Thursday, July 8, 2010

If only we did live in the fantasyland of Brian Kalk

Yet again Herald readers have been graced by a letter from PSC member Brian Kalk in which he pushes the mindset that the only care in the world is to maximize short-term profit, especially for the energy industry.

First and foremost in Kalk's version of the world apparently there is no such thing as global warming and there will forever be abundant fossil fuels to excavate and burn and no significant change in climate. Kalk parrots unsubstantiated claims of drastically increasing energy costs if efforts are made to decrease carbon emissions and does not even allude to the reasons that compel us, or at least some of us, to that action of producing less greenhouse gases. Today though I do not want to hammer on Kalk for his usual that nor his corporatist "balanced approach" talking point that happily condemns the future so some people make a buck in a variety of ways.

The main new point Kalk is making in his political hitjob today is that in the capitulation that is pulling legislative efforts from an economy-wide cap on carbon emissions to possibly a utility-only cap, this is even worse for North Dakota. It is difficult though to top the hyperbole when he said that the economy-wide system would destroy the fossil fuel industry, but he tries to sell utility-only as worse.

There is a lesson that can be taken - if you dig in your heels, bawling and fighting against lesser action sooner, then you risk forcing yourself into more extreme action later. Do not want to invest in flood protection? Fine - you can pay to rebuild the city when it does flood, assuming folks want to rebuild.

An economy-wide cap-and-trade system means there is price on dumping climate-altering greenhouse gases into the atmosphere rather than it being some sort of free dumping ground, and it allows market forces to determine efficient ways to scale back emissions. Personal responsibility and The Market - you might think that conservatives would love the idea. Instead we get the likes of Kalk pretending there is no problem and that the solution to this problem they ignore or even deny means the end of the world. That is helping write a prescription for even less appealing solutions, and not just command-and-control regulations. The longer we avoid action the more we will have to devote to accommodating the effects of climate change, like coastal cities gradually being inundated by rising sea levels, more extremes of weather, increased stress on freshwater and food supplies, acidifying oceans...

Hey, maybe the we of today will follow the Brian Kalks of the world but still luck out and not have to face the worst pains of climate change - maybe it will be only our children, grandchildren, and subsequent generations that face the consequences of our inaction. At least then they will never forget us! Or is that "forgive"?

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