Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, has produced an op-ed for The Washington Post attacking the Waxman-Markey bill, and the idea of using cap and trade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She argues:
- It will prevent economic recovery.
- It will make energy too expensive.
- Job losses will result.
- Costs of agriculture, transport, and manufacturing will rise.
- Drilling in Alaska and building pipelines is a better option.
- The US has lots of coal, and could build a lot more nukes.
Notably, she doesn’t even pretend to offer a solution to climate change, the primary problem the Waxman-Markey bill aims to address. This is remarkably myopic. Even if we accept that all of her assertions are true, this op-ed brings us no closer to making an intelligent decision on climate change and energy policies, since it doesn’t really contemplate alternative mechanisms through which climate can be stabilized and dependence on non-renewable fuels can be overcome. To imply that the US can get by with a bit more drilling is deeply fallacious. Similarly, it is misleading and dangerous to suggest that the American economy would keep ticking happily along indefinitely, even if climate change was totally unrestrained and allowed to follow its most destructive course.
We can only hope that the US Senate will be a bit more far-seeing in its analysis and deliberations, more willing to consider the key motivations for energy policy, and ultimately seized of the importance of sending a strong and growing price signal, so as to progressively and deeply curb the release of harmful and threatening greenhouse gasses.