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Environment

The Narrative Vacuum

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The collapse of U.S. cap and trade legislation and the irrelevance of global climate talks means there's a narrative vacuum that needs to be filled. That would be the Where Do We Go From Here narrative. Make no mistake: there will be a bloggy blood bath over who gets to shape this narrative. And it will be largely internecine, between liberal and climate-concerned bloggers. This dynamic was foreshadowed last week, when some critics wasted little time in shooting down a proposed paradigm shift floated in a bipartisan white paper. This week brings the WaPo's Dana Milbank suggestion that geoengineering be pondered as a "plan B for climate change." Before anyone in the Climate Progress posse gets too riled up, they should continue reading what Milbank says:

None of this means giving up on carbon reduction, which remains the only sure way to prevent man-made climate change. But as the failure in Congress to reach consensus slows progress toward an international agreement, the wasted time could be used to create a fallback plan.

What's the rationale?

This would prevent other nations from gaining a lead in geoengineering technologies (while perhaps providing some focus to our aimless space program) and at the same time put some cap-and-trade foes on the spot. Those who profess to care about global warming but balk at putting a price on carbon would have no justification for opposing geoengineering.

According to Milbank,

Makings of a cross-ideological coalition have emerged. At the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Samuel Thernstrom wrote this year that "ignoring geoengineering is potentially dangerous and irresponsible." At the liberal Center for American Progress, Andrew Light tells me that because "research is already starting in some parts of the world, we would be foolhardy not to be looking into it."

I suspect that Andrew Light is going to take issue with his quote being conflated with what appears to be an argument for geoengineering. I also suspect that this guy is going to take issue with the whole Milbank column. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the coming weeks and months will turn out to be a fertile intellectual period, in which various ideas for a new direction in climate policy and politics will be allowed some sunlight. Time will tell.

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