Anonymous GOP Staffer: Climate Change is Real and Needs to Be Addressed

July 17, 2013

anonephant

ClimateProgress:

The good news is that someone in the GOP did say it. The bad news is they had a bag over their head.

RealClearScience ran this must-read piece, “How the GOP Could Win the Climate Debate,” with the following byline: “Eric Bradenson, writing under a pen name to protect his boss and himself, is a conservative staffer on Capitol Hill working for a House Republican. His views are his own.”

One might call this a nom de plume of smoke. Or Profiles in Discourage.

The editors noted, “This article was awarded second place in the “Young Conservative Thought Leaders” contest from the Energy & Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University.” [The first place winner is here.]

The E&EI folks were a tad blunter, “Bradenson is working for a Republican House Member and opted to remain anonymous for job security reasons.” The Tea Party-driven national GOP have become like the Gong Show — and the only people willing to try a standup act are wearing a bag on their head.

Real Clear Science:

Someone in the GOP needs to say it: conservation is conservative; climate change is real; and conservatives need to lead on solutions because we have better answers than the other side.

Republicans don’t have to choose between conceding to the left and denying the science. There are genuine pro-growth solutions that align with conservative values. Republicans can admit that 97 percent of scientists just might be right without having to embrace Democratic ideas that would grow government.

In the past year, a movement of conservatives outside of Congress has pushed a market-based solution to climate change. This conservative alternative envisions a phase-out of subsidies for all sources of energy coupled with a revenue-neutral carbon tax swap. This is exactly the kind of proposal that gives Republicans the chance to win both in a messaging battle and on policy merits.

Energy subsidies come in many forms and most serve as a proxy for a price on carbon. Conservatives want to get rid of subsidies because they’re wasteful and inefficient and allow government to pick winners and losers in the market. Government subsidies also result in market uncertainty, rent-seeking problems, and inefficient allocation of capital. Importantly, getting rid of these wasteful expenditures can help reduce our deficit.

As the subsidies are being phased out, a revenue-neutral carbon tax swap should be phased in. A proposal like this wouldn’t force individuals to choose one energy source over another. It would simply “internalize the externalities” associated with the burning of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases, and the market would sort the rest out.

There is a crucial piece of the carbon tax swap puzzle that will separate many liberals from conservatives. The left will attempt to use the carbon tax as a cash cow for the federal government, using the revenues to pay for legislators’ pet projects or to keep subsidies flowing to the preferred energy source du jour.

The recent proposal by Senators Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders, for example, would spend 40 percent of carbon tax revenue on the Senators’ pet projects. It takes a concept that should have the intention of leveling out the market and then fundamentally distorts it by picking winners and losers with more government spending.

Republicans can win this debate by making it very clear: our carbon tax will not grow government. It will not take money out of hard-working American’s pockets to pay for more federal spending. It will instead be used to cut federal taxes, and it must be revenue neutral.

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26 Responses to “Anonymous GOP Staffer: Climate Change is Real and Needs to Be Addressed”

  1. omnologos Says:

    what’s discouraging is to see the 97% rubbish still paraded about. It just demonstrates some people do live out of smoke and mirrors.

    And before the usual exchanges start, in several versions of what the 97% means, I am myself inside the 97% consensus. If that won’t make it meaningless I don’t know what could.


  2. Any way you slice it, omnologos, it doesn’t come up in your favor. There have been multiple surveys of climate experts, and no matter how you ask the questions, it turns out that well over 90% of climate experts think the IPCC has it about right.

    • omnologos Says:

      I hope it’s just naivety Barry. Yes the ipcc is right and I’ll agree but only after you define exactly about what.

      It’s a well known fact that polls can be manipulated by asking the “right” question.

      Besides who would be so stupid as to make consensus a scientific argument? Before Galileo the consensus said the Moon’s surface was perfectly smooth and yet the Moon didn’t care.

      • stephengn1 Says:

        The consensus before Galileo is not analogous because It wasn’t science. It was religious dogma – something it seems like the current GOP would prefer.

  3. jpcowdrey Says:

    maurizio,

    Before Galileo, there wasn’t any scientific consensus. In Europe, there wasn’t much science at all. European intellectual life was dominated by Scholasticists who believed they could deduce the nature of the universe from Divinely Revealed First Principles. In fact, the science of Galileo and Kepler wasn’t modern science until Newton integrated their empirical findings into a comprehensive theory. That is how science works. It is a process of many genuinely skeptical actors consensually adding objectively agreed upon pieces to a puzzle until a coherent and consilient picture emerges.

    Science is not predicative on the opinion of one person, whether correct or not. Science is only valid when there is broad agreement; i.e., consensus, in the specialized scientific community. Since neither you nor I are members of the specialized scientific community, our opinions, insofar as they stray from the scientific consensus, are meaningless.

    The IPCC consensus is simply this: Human generated long-lived greenhouse gasses have contributed, at the very least, 50% of the temperature rise in the second half of the 20th century, most likely near 100% and very possibly more.

    Where do you disagree?

    • omnologos Says:

      I’m sure any Aristotelian / Scholastic at the time would’ve been convinced they were the scientists. Just like doctorshave been around for centuries but we would classify most as charlatans.

      I disagree on the importance you give to consensus. No need to quote Einstein, I hope. Gravity is there no matter what people think about it

      Finally I don’t disagree with the IPCC statement as formulated by you. The disagreement is on the catastrophe, I suspect, and there’s no consensus on that even within the ipcc.

      That’s another reason why “97%” is such a stupid mantra.

      • stephengn1 Says:

        “I’m sure any Aristotelian / Scholastic at the time would’ve been convinced they were the scientists.”

        That would have been a neat trick science the word “scientist” was not yet used. Point of fact, to be a scientist you must follow the scientific method. They were not doing so.

        “Just like doctors have been around for centuries but we would classify most as charlatans.”

        So would you say the “we” in this sentence represents a consensus?

        • omnologos Says:

          Stephen -your views are anti-historical. Suffice it to say that Galileo himself considered “science” what came before him.

          I have no intention to drag this discussion on the meaning of history though. Feel free to remain in your erroneous prejudices :)

          • stephengn1 Says:

            Sir, please quote me where Galileo ever used the word science. You will fail utterly.

            Galileo, like Copernicus, was one of the first to use the method and science is the use of the method.

        • andrewfez Says:

          This is actually a tangent to an area of interest of mine. I like to read what was known about science, engineering and agriculture around the early 1800’s in England. Google Books has books and pamphlets written by scientists around that period. It’s amazing how much was known in the Regency and Victorian Era. Lots of schools of thought were occurring before and during those eras including empiricism, rationalism, inductive reasoning, etc., and folks were getting more sophisticated on philosophizing what it was to know something scientifically.

          A lot of criticism too was happening from folks tied to more religious lines of thought, and from philosophical pissing contests. So for example I have a copy of the Edinburgh Review of 1845 who launches an 85 page attack on the author of ‘The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation’, which is sort of an amateur attempt at tying evolutionary ideas together across multiple lines of natural philosophy: biology, geology, star and planet formation, etc. Kind of a 19th century equivalent to the amateur blog-o-sphere. They spend a few pages near the front of the review insulting the author by ‘mistaking’ him for a woman, further going on to, in effect, say that not even a woman would come up with such nonsense (and thus apologizing to women). However Vestiges was quite popular and kind of prepped society for Darwin’s famous materials. (Incidentally, the idea of natural selection first popped up in history in a chapter of geologist James Hutton’s, An Investigation of the Principles of Knowledge, from the 1790’s, though the book was 2000+ pages so it perhaps didn’t get the attention it deserved.)

          Anyway the term ‘scientist’ was coined by William Whewell in 1833. Most of ‘em were thought of as ‘natural philosophers’.

          From Wikipedia:

          ‘For all these pursuits, it comes as no surprise that his best-known works are two voluminous books which attempt to map and systematize the development of the sciences, History of the Inductive Sciences (1837) and The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded Upon Their History (1840). While the History traced how each branch of the sciences had evolved since antiquity, Whewell viewed the Philosophy as the “Moral” of the previous work as it sought to extract a universal theory of knowledge through the history he had just traced. In the Philosophy, Whewell attempted to follow Francis Bacon’s plan for discovery of an effectual art of discovery. He examined ideas (“explication of conceptions”) and by the “colligation of facts” endeavoured to unite these ideas with the facts and so construct science. But no art of discovery, such as Bacon anticipated, follows, for “invention, sagacity, genius” are needed at each step.’

          Whewell also came up with the terms physicist, consilience, catastrophism, and uniformitarianism (very important concept in early geology running alongside and complimenting the concept of ‘deep time’ – the idea the earth is a lot older than what a significant number of folks ‘hypothesized’ at the time), and suggested the terms ion, dielectric, anode, and cathode to Michael Faraday.

      • jpcowdrey Says:

        maurizio,

        I think we are closer than you think about “the catastrophe”. It’s just that I believe ‘catastrophe’ is a straw man thrown up by those in denial, such as yourself, to paint those with whom they are in disagreement, such as myself, as promoting an argument that is not their actual position. You, on the other hand, are only too willing to bandy about this straw man.

        As for the actual IPCC consensus opinion on projected impacts, see WG3 of the Synthesis report :

        http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/mains3-3-1.html

        I don’t believe the word ‘catastrophe’ is ever used. Before you go off about caveats and uncertainties, allow me to say that, as a living human being, I am concerned about the level of risk implicit in medium to high confidence in these impacts under BAU scenarios. If you have some sound scientific arguments proving with near absolute certainty the risk is negligible to none, then I am all ears. But I suspect you haven’t, or otherwise, like Einstein’s one man to prove him wrong, you’d have long since convinced the specialized scientific community to alter the consensus opinion on the strength of your arguments.

        • omnologos Says:

          jp – I think you’re in denial of the established fact that a lot of people including most commenters here think as plausible the idea that life on Earth will be in dire straits if not all gone by the year 2100.

          You’re also in denial of the other established fact, that calling other people “deniers” will help not a jot move forward anything you might consider important.

          • jpcowdrey Says:

            So, maurizio,

            Do you accept the risks presented by global warming are potentially substantial and significant, or do you not? A simple question the answer to which would put to rest my suspicion that you are in denial.

            There is a particularly virulent form of denial called DARVO where the person in denial projects responsibility for his own denial onto those who would help him overcome his denial. This clearly appears to be what you are doing here.

            My experience with people suffering from denial is that they are incredibly agile at rationalizing their denial right up to the point eminent personal harm from their denial becomes existentially unavoidable. I see no mechanism in blog comments on the internet that could force such a dramatic turn, so I have slim to none expectations that you will ever cease engaging in such slippery irrational subterfuges.

            Though you might not be willing to ‘not a jot move forward’ because of what you preemptorily dismiss as an insult, other readers will be better served to percieve clearly the lack of candor that you would like to present as some considered and reasonable position

          • omnologos Says:

            “Do you accept the risks presented by global warming are potentially substantial and significant?”

            Yes

  4. stephengn1 Says:

    Sir, please quote me where Galileo ever used the word science. You will fail utterly.

    Galileo, like Copernicus, was one of the first to use the method and science is the use of the method.


  5. Ask yourself this: why is this GOP person staying anonymous?

    THAT is the problem. The Grand Old Party doesn’t want to acknowledge reality and the science through which we all understand reality – and they are willing to act really stupidly in doing so.

    The GOP would rather that the entire world and all living things in it continue to get warmer and warmer and more disastrous all the time – and the GOP wants to ignore reality – so that their donors can continue to profit at the expense of ruining the climate. The Democratic Party is only a bit better.

    Neil


  6. Omnologos didn’t even address the subject of this blog, which is that this Republican party member had to hide his or her identity because s/he agrees with the majority of scientists. Interesting. I’d like to see what kind of justification Om comes up with for that.

    • omnologos Says:

      Hey, it’s Climate Progress, they would be ready to make up quotes and invent a character (it’s because they’re fighting a war to save the environment).

      I have no idea if the person “Bradenson” is an actual person, what he or she does for a living, if the thoughts are his/hers. Neither do you, or pretty much anybody else here.

      So the only thing we could talk about is what Real Clear Science wrote. Including the 97% claim and stupidity.

      ps for stephengn1: if you can’t use Google I won’t explain it either. Enough!


  7. If I could reply directly below your comment I would, but apparently my account doesn’t allow me to.

    I originally saw this story on CNN or somewhere completely unrelated, so saying it’s Climate Progress (you mean Climate Denial Crock of the Week, right?) is no answer.

    You didn’t answer the question.

    Why do Republicans feel like they have to hide their identities if they want to come out in support of doing something about the climate? (Making up some story about it not being a real person is LAME.)

    Why do people like Bob Inglis get CRUCIFIED for having a dissenting view from the GOP Standard, on that one single subject, when every other measure of conservatism screams conservative?

    • omnologos Says:

      Assuming the story is genuine, “climate change” has been pushed extremely by all sides so no wonder it has become a potentially lethal pill for anybody with a career in mind in the wrong organization.


  8. How can the GOP have better answers on a subject they’ve pretended doesn’t exist for the past few decades? I find that notion almost as delusionary as the act of denial itself. That said, cessation of hostilities toward climate scientists and targeting renewables for delay and market denial while propping up fossil fuels would be a nice change of pace.

    All the GOP really has to do to help on climate change is get out of the effing way.

    • andrewfez Says:

      All they need to know is that when cheap energy production gets less and less every year, the market reacts by innovating new technology to accommodate this market pressure. Toyota Prius isn’t a popular car because there’s a bunch of liberal, greenie, communists that want to help the mother earth. It’s popular because people are sick of paying so much for gas. It’s just a normal reaction in the ‘free market’. Same with efficiency – just a normal market reaction to more expensive energy.

      A brilliant investor anticipates a market pressure before it happens and positions themselves in a way to profit from it. Heads up conservatives: the coming market pressures are expensive fossil energy, strains on other resources and the trillion dollar price tag paid for by public dollars (i.e. socialism) attached to these in the form of wars for oil, water, copper, etc. The investment is efficiency and non-fossil energy.

      By funding wars for oil, we are artificially suppressing the free market reaction – innovation in the fields of efficiency and non-fossil energy – to the true price of oil. If there are any conservatives in the GOP, run with that.


      • A pure free market fails because it lacks regulation and innovation. It stagnates under the pressure of monopolies and creates dangerous externalities. The current situation of fossil fuel dominance is a perfect example of how the conservative ideology has failed.

        Government led incentive programs identified problems and provided funding for new tech that, through both direct market pressure and through a number of adaptive public actions, are addressing the problems caused by fossil fuel addiction. This is not a pure free market response, but a response by broader markets and governments to an obvious, growing and identified problem. Such mixed responses are far more effective at dealing with crises of this kind than a pure free market — which leans far too greatly toward conservative, slow to respond, and entrenched corporate interests who have only direct profit, not problem solving on their radar.

        That is not to say that a mixed market/government response, as has happened, won’t result in profitable companies emerging. Tesla, GE, Toyota and many others have created opportunity out of crisis. But these opportunities and responses would have been greatly muted without government research funding, subsidies, and laws favorable to renewable sources that helped the new technologies off the ground.

        Even now, such funding is in direct threat of conservative erosion. One key program — ARPA-E — is under threat of being cut by conservatives as much as 80%. Conservatives still push to fund, through subsidies, oil companies, gas companies, coal companies, even as they use ideology as an excuse to cut or delay the Production Tax Credit. To this point, the conservatives are blindly hypocritical, not even adhering to their inflexible, magical thinking, ideology. In this case, fossil fuel monopoly bucks have warped them, turning them into little more than lackeys for a single industry.

        So pure free market thinking fails and fails again. It can’t stand on its own principle and turns to use government funding to support monopoly interests and bury the solutions.

        So, again, how the heck can creatures like these, with thinking like this, better support renewables than those who have for so long? What magical blue pill would they have us swallow to believe such fark?

        And as to the misnomer that the only people who support renewable energy are ‘commies,’ it’s just that — more ideological fog. Is Elon Musk a commie? Doesn’t act like one. The Center for American Progress is more like Teddy Roosevelt than any current republican will ever be. Was he a commie because he wanted to establish state parks and preserve America’s wilderness? GE that produces some of the best wind turbines in the world — are they commies? James Hansen, a climate scientist and a moderate libertarian is definitely not a commie.

        Oh there is definitely a radical left wing element, possibly inflated by oil company agitation because it improves their image, that doesn’t believe any technology can help the current situation and seems to think we should all go back to living like savages. But they do not support the solutions I’ve described above. Those who do are more like radical moderates that understand a market needs rational rules and that both government and business can be either beneficial or destructive and must be well managed to result in the greatest benefit. That what is most critical to success, when confronted with crisis, like the one we see, is not blind adherence to ideology, but a willingness to creatively work toward solutions — ideology be damned.

        The conservatives are going to have to do better than ‘we’re smarter than commie greenies and you know that climate change thing we’ve been denying these entire past two decades? It’s real. But you should follow us with the solutions we’ve just made up now, because we’re better.’

        Sorry, but that’s not going to hack it.

        How about:

        ‘We were wrong. Dreadfully wrong. We screwed up big time. But now that we’ve realized this, we’re going to do our best to come up with some creative market vehicles that help the situation and we agree with our colleagues, the democrats, that some government response will be needed and we will work with them to make such public responses as efficient and prosperity enhancing as possible.’

        That would be a good start. But that pride crap needs to go. It’s what got them in trouble in the first place, the second place, and the third place.

        On a side note: Voter suppression — very, very bad idea.


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