Friday, January 29, 2010

Those who cannot remember the past...

Three decades ago, the Carter Administration tried to pass legislation to establish an energy policy for the USA. Writing in Wednesday's FT Energy Source, Philip K. Verleger - then Carter's Director of the Office of Energy Policy at the U.S. Treasury - claims that the current Obama administration hasn't a hope of getting his global warming legislation through. The reasons: arrogance, ignorance of the substantive issues, and failure to recognise the power of pork.

For Verleger the implications are clear, and in the light of recent events in Congress (and Copenhagen, because, whatever the scorn within which Europeans treat US politics, this is by no means a uniquely American problem) I find it hard to disagree. Here are Verleger's closing words:

"Many of the veterans of the Carter battle have quietly exchanged emails and
phone calls as the Obama legislation awaits its fate. The consensus opinions are
  1. None of the people putting the Obama energy policy forward understood the
    problems they would face in Congress.
  2. The bill’s supporters (”greens”) are less aware of history than we were in
    the 1970s, if that is possible.
  3. The legislation’s passage is unlikely absent an outside precipitating

It will be difficult to take effective action on emissions even when every
American accepts global warming as fact. Concerns regarding economic security
are far greater than those over climate impacts 10 or 20 years in the future.
Tragically, individuals pushing such actions - the representatives of various
NGOs covered in this blog, for example - do not understand history, the concerns
of voters, or the workings of Congress.

The battle is lost."

For those of us for whom the problem of global warming is, as energy was for Carter, the Moral Equivalent of War (MEOW!), it's a depressing insight.

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