Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Palin, Climate Change and Copenhagen: It’s Really About Jobs

Summary: "Palin might complain that global warming believers are killing the economy, but in fact it’s far from the truth."

In an op-ed piece in today’s Washington Post, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin criticized the climate change conference in Copenhagen as a political event.

From her op-ed:

In his inaugural address, President Obama President Obama declared his intention to "restore science to its rightful place." But instead of staying home from Copenhagen and sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices, the president has upped the ante. He plans to fly in at the climax of the conference in hopes of sealing a "deal." Whatever deal he gets, it will be no deal for the American people. What Obama really hopes to bring home from Copenhagen is more pressure to pass the Democrats' cap-and-tax proposal. This is a political move. The last thing America needs is misguided legislation that will raise taxes and cost jobs -- particularly when the push for such legislation rests on agenda-driven science.

Without trustworthy science and with so much at stake, Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicized conference. The president should boycott Copenhagen.

The “agenda-driven science” she refers to all has to do with a few leaked emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK - a scandal now known as “Climate-gate”.

According to Palin, Climate-gate “exposes a highly politicized scientific circle -- the same circle whose work underlies efforts at the Copenhagen climate change conference. The agenda-driven policies being pushed in Copenhagen won't change the weather, but they would change our economy for the worse.”

Of course, the Huffington Post did a great job documenting just how overblown Climate-gate really is - a small handful of thousands of emails that have been obscenely misinterpreted. Many pro-reformers on the climate change issue are now criticizing the Washington Post for publishing Palin’s op-ed in the first place.

However, Palin does play into current opinions on global warming. The majority of Americans do not believe that climate change is a man-made phenomenon, if it’s even happening at all.

So it should be no surprise that Americans will view the conference in Copenhagen with skepticism.

Even before Palin wrote her op-ed, conservative pundits including Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck were saying that any political deals reached in Copenhagen would lead to a loss of American sovereignty.

What most people - including the conservative pundits - don’t realize is the Copenhagen Conference is part business forum. In a post this morning, Nate Silver - who is blogging from Copenhagen right now - told readers “the conference, at this point, feels more like a trade show than a political event”.

This was confirmed to us this morning by Jacob Davis, a managing partner with the firm Algae Systems - a company that converts carbon dioxide into renewable energy - who is traveling as part of a delegation to Copenhagen this week.

Davis told us that the conference is “much more than just a political event” and business leaders like himself were going there for the purpose of “showcasing American enterprise” to financial groups and other companies as well as foreign political leaders.

Sure, world leaders will be meeting at this Copenhagen conference to discuss a replacement to the Kyoto Treaty, but it’s also a meeting place for entrepreneurial, free market, business leaders who work in the green technology sector. Their work at Copenhagen will be about making money and, more importantly perhaps, creating jobs.

Palin might complain that global warming believers are killing the economy, but in fact it’s far from the truth.

And that’s what needs to be pointed out more. Sure, a lot of Americans deny global warming, so they need to know that green technology can mean economic growth. This is why White House economist Christina Romer has pushed so hard for a home weatherization component to Obama’s new jobs plan.

It’s a winning argument politically too.

According to a Gallup poll released yesterday, 68% of Americans have taken steps to increase energy efficiency in their homes. Whether that means buying energy efficient appliances, weatherizing with energy saving windows, or even switching to fluorescent light bulbs - 2 out of 3 of your neighbors have probably made an effort to save the environment.

At least inadvertently. Of the respondents that have taken such steps, 71% of them said they were motivated by the prospects of saving money rather than by saving the global climate. Only 26% say it was for environmental reasons.

In tough economic times, global warming has taken a back seat to more immediate issues. With concerns about paying higher utility prices and losing jobs, Americans have become adverse to the climate change issue even to the point of denying its man-made nature.

In order for Democrats to win on the climate change issue these days, energy efficiency and renewable energy must be framed in terms of economic incentives, not a moral paradigm of environmentalism.

In other words, environmentalists need to make this their primary argument: “going green means saving green.” Or better yet - as lawmakers contemplate job creation (and we all know that we need to create jobs here at home) - “going green means making green.”

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