Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Green Sees Red

"Al Gore's favorite prognosticator [NASA scientist James Hansen], the direst voice in the climate-change movement, hasn't recanted. Rather, in his latest manifesto, released yesterday, Mr. Hansen excoriates House baron Henry Waxman's 648-page cap-and-trade bill: He calls it 'feckless,' 'this monstrous absurdity,' 'a disastrous approach' and 'the temple of doom' at which politicians 'worship.'

"Mr. Hansen may not have a gift for subtlety, but he does for candor. His favored approach to carbon reduction is a straight tax, with 100% of the revenue rebated to consumers. That would still be an extremely expensive and likely futile remedy for a speculative problem -- Mr. Hansen would only agree with the first part, of course -- but it would also be the cleanest, most transparent approach.

"'648 pages,' Mr. Hansen writes, 'are not needed to define a carbon fee.' He argues that cap-and-trade markets are so complex because politicians 'want the process mystified,' the easier to dispense green pork to politically popular constituencies. It 'probably has something to do with all the alligator shoes in Washington,' he adds, a reference to the Beltway's 2,400 energy lobbyists.

"Mr. Obama himself has begun personally to twist arms on Mr. Waxman's committee, trying to quell an uprising among rural and moderate Democrats against cap-and-trade. The rebellious ones wouldn't like Mr. Hansen's approach any better, of course. But at least he's not selling the snake oil that 'industry' can be made to bear all the costs. To have any impact at all on emissions, he says frankly, 'the carbon price must be sufficient to affect lifestyle choices.'"

-- Joseph Rago, Wall Street Journal

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