I just finished editing the last interview transcript for my current book project, “Renewable Energy – Following the Money,” which I conducted with Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute. Jerry is brilliant, and he’s perfected his ability to articulate his core, heartfelt beliefs, i.e., that Libertarianism is the only fair and practical way to address social conflicts — in this case, differing approaches to energy policy. As a former Libertarian myself, I can’t think of too many 90 minute segments of my life from which I’ve learned more.
But, while the process here was edifying, it was frustrating as well. Insofar as this was an interview and not a debate, I didn’t think it proper to challenge Jerry’s assertions to the effect that the threat of climate change is both modest and distant. I’m sure my guest was not deliberately misquoting the numbers, nor the people from whom those numbers came. Nonetheless, our time together was riddled with quotes like:
We are talking about significant damages from climate change that don’t begin for about 100 years. If you look at the IPCC median estimates, the damage seems relatively modest but after about 100 years you get some serious damage functions if you accept median IPCC estimates.
Significant damage from climate change won’t begin for 100 years? Another interview guest for the project, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Director of the IPCC, certainly wouldn’t agree.
And if it is the case that we have 100 years of freedom from the effects of climate change, someone needs to inform the U.S. military’s top people, including Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, who told the Boston Globe’s Bryan Bender on Friday that the fallout from the shifting global temperature “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen … that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.” Locklear continued, “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level.”
Not everyone can be right here. Personally, I’m swayed by those without an obvious agenda. The Cato Institute is funded largely by the fossil fuel industry. But the U.S. Navy? If you believe there is some sort of political agenda for the Navy’s suggesting that climate change represents a pressing, short-term threat, I’ll be interested to hear how you might substantiate that claim.
Btw, the photo above shows the retreat of the glacier on Mount Kilimanjaro between February 1993 and the same time in 2000. If the melting of the large masses of the Earth’s ice doesn’t give one pause, I’m not sure what will.