Then there's the really big challenge. Whatever Climate Reform looks like, how do we do it, given the lack of an overarching authority for planning and enforcement? Wonderful slogans abound: for instance, cut out dependence on fossil fuels. Well, OK. But does that mean get rid, totally, of coal and crude oil? Can we retain some? How much, in that event? What about all the investments and jobs for which coal and gas account? We'd replace those ... how, exactly? And having done all that (whatever it turned out to be), what would we then use for energy? Wind and solar power? From where? On what timetable? At what cost? And who goes first? The Chinese, on whose doorstep lies responsibility for half the globe's projected increases in emissions? What if they told us, and all our learned experts, to go jump in the lake? We would respond ... how?
To find the president of the United States on the myth-making side of the Climate Reform argument isn't encouraging. But it's not surprising either. The liberal way, these days, is to devise a problem so as to scratch the instincts -- anti-free market, anti-old time America, pro-big government, pro-regulation -- of constituencies likely to respond well at election time to those doing the scratching. Possibly the best thing to say about conservatives is that they tend to lack grand ambitions of this sort, neither trusting reformers very much nor neglecting attention to the consequences of abrupt and far-reaching change.
Continued enthusiasm for grand, politically mandated changes entrenches the already acute sense that the federal government, as conservatives commonly allege, is seriously out of control. Fortunately, for the particular grand change under consideration -- a War on Warming -- enthusiasm isn't running high, save for modest and likely useful efforts to improve energy technologies. The experts and their ally in the White House should round up -- fast -- the best apologists and wordsmiths they can afford. At that it may not be enough.