A hypothetical campaign exchange:
“There goes my liberal opponent again—demanding yet another tax. He’s never seen a tax he didn’t like. Now he wants to raise your gasoline taxes… The American people have been taxed quite enough, thank you!”
“The American people certainly have been taxed quite enough. I totally agree. Right now they are being taxed by Saudi Arabia, taxed by Venezuela, taxed by Russia, taxed by Iran, and, if we stay on this track, they’ll soon be taxed by Mother Nature… So let’s get one thing straight: My opponent and I are both for a tax. I just have this quaint, old-fashioned view that my taxes should go to the U.S. Treasury, not the Saudi Treasury, not the Iranian Treasury and not the Russian Treasury. It’s just a little tic I have. I like my tax dollars to go to build my own country.”
That hypothetical campaign exchange comes (via some modifications of my own) from Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded. It’s an exchange that does a nice job of summarizing some basics.
There are a laundry list of examples that demonstrate that climate change is very real. The opening of the Northwest passage for the first time in recorded history is one such indicator. The extraordinary efforts the Chinese went through to have clear (if not clean) air for the Beijing Olypics is another indicator. Al Gore’s movie and (until the economic meltdown) the nightly news were filled with more. As California Governor Schwarzenegger (you have to love being able to quote the Terminator in a policy article) put it to Friedman “If ninety-eight doctors say my son is ill and needs medication and two say ‘No, he doesn’t, he is fine,’ I will go the nighty-eight. It’s common sense—the same with global warming. We go with the majority, the large majority.
And, of course, there are people who still disagree with that position. But, many of those people understand the other explicit argument in the exchange above. We’re in a situation where the oil we purchase from abroad is, to a significant degree, funding agendas most people don’t want to fund; for instance, the Iranian nuclear program and Russia’s recent invasion of a southern neighbor. Go ahead and think of more while I wait. Good. Go ahead, think of a few more. Want more? Google and your local bookstore can provide all the fodder you need. We are paying to prop up what George W. Bush in his dudding way would call Bad Guys. And we are paying them to be major threats to our national security.
The impatient are already sending me emails. “Gas prices have gone back down and the Bad Guys have gotten quieter.” Very true. When we cut the bottom out from under gas prices, Putin and company have to cut their budgets some where. But, we are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since (depending on how you count) either the ’70s or the Great Depression. Chinese factories are literally closing (liquidation is a growth industry in China at the moment). The U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of over 6% in the 4th Quarter of 2008. Other economies have shrunk much faster. And gas prices are still high by historical standards. How long will a barrel of oil stay cheap once the world economy starts to grow again?
Next… a short history of energy revolutions.