Romney crushes McCain in Michigan, a blow to climate

Not the best state for the climate/fuel economy message, obviously. Still, a bad sign for those who want this issue discussed intelligently in the campaign.

I was watching Fox news coverage of the GOP primary — why not? — and I think it was Bill Kristol who Fred Barnes said, “John McCain is going to have to stop antagonizing conservatives” if he wants to win, since the GOP is a conservative party.

And what precisely was McCain doing to antagonize conservatives? He was “talking about climate change” and pushing the idea of “promoting green technology in Michigan.”

We have a long, long way to go, I’m afraid, before this country can take united action to save the livability of the planet for future generations.

13 Responses to Romney crushes McCain in Michigan, a blow to climate

  1. Paul K says:

    You would label Romney a delayer for his belief in technological breakthrough. That ignores what he is saying about current technologies and what he would do to maximize their application. He is almost as zealous about it as you are. What he is not for is the basis for progressives touting of McCain. He is not for taxation of CO2.

  2. Paul K says:

    Speaking of technology, check out the latest in smart home tech at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry

  3. Ronald says:

    Paul K.,
    I agree with the articles on this website, that you are just not going to reduce greenhouse gas release with technology alone. It’s just not going to happen. The technology mantra, whether it is believed by those saying it or not, is about delaying doing anything about the problem.

    In the 1970’s there was recognized around the world a problem with smog, some or much of it caused by cars and motor vehicles. All the discussion of technology would not have gotten rid of the problems. It required a ban on the sale of cars without pollution controls to have something being done about it. We would still be talking about the latest smog reduction technology and have smog in our cities, if the federal government didn’t pass the appropriate laws for motor vehicle manufactures to put in the 1970’s smog reduction technology in the 1970’s. I’m sure the technology to reduce smog is better now, but it would have been a mistake to wait until now to do something about it.

    The same with what Romney is saying, he’s saying what many people want to hear. How brave is that? It is complete braveness for McCain to tell the truth. Romney gets knocks for his election conversions, he’s for abortion rights when running for governor of a state where the people are for abortion rights and then he is against abortion rights when running for office when the constituency is against them. Give me a break.

    Some things are to important for not doing the right thing. This is one of them.

  4. Lou Grinzo says:

    I’m astonished that even the knuckle-draggers on the right (candidates, pundits, and, apparently, many voters) aren’t smart enough to see green technology’s huge potential to create domestic jobs.

    It drives me nuts when people yammer on about the cost of a renewable energy build out, but never recognize that much of that money will be spent domestically and will create many jobs–who do these people think will build, install, and maintain wind farms, solar arrays, wave and tidal installations, etc.?

  5. John Mashey says:

    “We would still be talking about the latest smog reduction technology and have smog in our cities, if the federal government didn’t pass the appropriate laws for motor vehicle manufactures to put in the 1970’s smog reduction technology in the 1970’s.”

    Hmm, I think I’d write that a different way:
    “…if some states, with California in the lead, hadn’t imposed emission limits, and eventually dragged the Federal government with them, past kicking and screaming about the horrible costs and imminent collapse of the auto industry.” [to use a non-CA source :-)]
    “1966 Auto tailpipe emission standards for hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide are adopted by the California Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board. They are the first of their kind in the nation. California Highway Patrol begins random roadside inspections of vehicle smog control devices.”

    Deja vu…

  6. Ben says:

    Not the best state for the climate/fuel economy message, obviously.

    Climate change will not affect Michigan? Just because they have employment there that actively destroys the environment doesn’t mean they should not be concerned about the consequences.

  7. Paul K says:

    Since all of the harmful CO2 emissions are caused by technology, technology is the only way to reduce them. A tax doesn’t reduce them. It only makes them more expensive. In the end, by whatever means, technology, current and breakthrough provides the answer. After all, the aim of all the complex cap and trade, tax/penalty and regulatory schemes is to drive up the price enough to make alternatives competitive. This is bassackward to the market and punitively onerous to those below the medium income line. Joe is correct. The technology for the solution exists now. It just has to be applied. Romney’s approach will bring that application more quickly than McCain’s.

    You are so right.There should be big money in replacing fossil fuel. It is one of the best points Joe makes. I understand your frustration. Why isn’t the marketplace already abuzz? I think the problem is, unlike in most markets, the consumer is unable to lead. The primary impediment to widespread application is the high initial cost versus savings over time. A homeowner, for example, may not wish to put a solar cell with a 15 – 20 year payback on a house he might be moving from in 8 – 10 years. This disincentive inhibits the usual way new technologies grow in a market where consumers drive an increase in supply and reduction in price. It is not a lack of demand. Everyone would like to draw power from their roof. It just doesn’t make sense from the consumer’s point of view to do so. What is needed is not to artificially raise the price of fossil. The market is doing a pretty good job of that on its own. We need a way to bring the price of alternative down. Joe is focused on government action as that is his area of expertise. I think an American solution looks to the people to find a way to improve the position of the consumer. Not sure what that might be, but it’s out there waiting to be found.

  8. Shannon says:

    I don’t think you can say this is a blow to climate because it’s probable that people voting for McCain are not voting on climate anyway. And since all of the Democratic frontrunners are vocal about climate, mentioning it when not even asked (see Nevada debate), I don’t think any blows have been dealt. The only issue here would be if Romney becomes the Republican frontrunner and then goes on to win the election, because of his loose connection to a global warming denialist organization. Otherwise I am not even sure that climate is playing a significant role in the elections yet.

  9. Ronald says:

    Paul K.,
    You wrote that a carbon tax would only drive up the cost of carbon energy and not help reduce carbon energy use. I think you couldn’t be more wrong.

    Where I do agree with Joe on a carbon tax is that politically it is not doable. There is not the will for it and there is grave political dangers to it, advocates would get voted out of office. People haven’t accepted carbon taxes as a solution. This is one of those subjects where the correctness of the philosophy just doesn’t overcome the psychology.

    I don’t agree that it wouldn’t work. It would be the thing above all other things that would work. We’ve made motor vehicles more efficient and that improvement went into more powerful vehicles, not in less total fuel burned. There is quite a lot written about efficiency improvements in some product not reducing total carbon energy use, but increasing it, because of the increased efficiency brings the cost down and increases the usage overcoming the efficiency improvements. Global warming is such that we need to decrease the total fossil fuel use as the goal.

    I don’t buy your argument about lower income people being hurt by the carbon tax as the reason not to do it. Lower income people are hurt by sales taxes, property taxes, social security taxes, income taxes, etc. If we tax any of that for lower income people, we can also have carbon taxes.

    What I would propose is a tax trade. The first tax that anybody pays is a carbon tax. Reduce or eliminate the sales, property and income taxes that a lower income person would pay and that would be replaced with the fossil fuel energy tax.

    But the psychology of taxes is such that we are willing to pay only those taxes that we have paid before. It’s evolutionary. When bad things happen to us and we survive, we are able accept them more than having the worry of a bad thing happen to us that didn’t happen before. We have lived in a world where we have sales, property, social security and income taxes, but a fossil fuel tax, oh my, we don’t live in that world, that world is scary. But if we never had a sales tax world and we had a fossil fuel world and somebody proposed to tax sales, we would tell them we don’t want it. It’s all about what we survived and what we got used to.

    Why do we accept a sales tax? Because we have paid a sales tax before. Why don’t we accept a fossil fuel tax? Because we haven’t paid a fossil fuel tax before.

    There wasn’t a time in our history that we sat down and figured out what is we want to accomplish with our tax system. We mostly just fall into what is possible because of some war emergency like World War II, or some economic need. Politics are such that it is easier to go along to get along than to make proposals that may do the job, but are unpopular. So the only thing possible to do things that are under the radar of what most people would be uncomfortable with.

    There’s more I could add, but I’ll leave that for some other time maybe. I do think though that with the political situation we have now, anything that we could pass that would decrease greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would be so ineffectual as to have almost no effect on how much greenhouse gases we release into our atmosphere. The world is just going to burn.

  10. D-pop says:

    taxes hurt. but rationing doesn’t. Simply make people use less. their usage declines, emissions decline, their costs also go down ….

    Just takes political cahones….

  11. Paul K says:

    Since you agree that a carbon tax is not doable, I’m suggesting we look for a different, perhaps more effective approach. The rest of your comment is very interesting and I’ll try to find time later today to respond. Right now, I’m busy defending myself on another thread.

    I noticed your screen name links to The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. How revealing. I think rationing energy is a great idea. Here’s how it will work. I’m in charge. You get none.

  12. Paul K says:

    You wrote: “With the political situation we have now, anything that we could pass that would decrease greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would be so ineffectual as to have almost no effect on how much greenhouse gases we release into our atmosphere. The world is just going to burn.” Cheer up. Yes, politics being what it is, the government probably won’t deliver us from your concerns. Luckily, here in America responsibility for solving problems lies with the people. Many times the best solutions come with minimal government involvement. Be optimistic. Over the next 40 years, the people will insure the decrease the total fossil fuel use.

    Since government is ineffective, it could logically follow that a government carbon tax scheme would also be ineffective. It would certainly be inefficient, wasteful and inviting to corruption. The goal is to decrease – I would say replace – fossil fuel. If that goal is reached, greenhouse gas emissions will plummet perforce.

    You say you don’t buy lower income people being hurt as the reason not to do the carbon tax. My main reason for opposition to carbon taxes is they are counterproductive to the forces necessary to reach the goal. Actually, we already have lots of taxes on carbon. What is behind proposed here at climate progress is taxation of CO2. This would take the form of direct taxation and cap and trade, a complex system based on what are in effect tax avoidance certificates. Cap and trade is thought to induce the marketplace to achieve reductions. It is appealing because it worked with sulfur emissions to avert acid rain. Unfortunately, the two situations are not at all similar. With acid rain, there was a limited and known number of power plants causing the problem. The scale needed for CO2 cap and trade is immense.

    I’ve gotta tell ya’, your view of automotive history is very different from mine. “We’ve made motor vehicles more efficient and that improvement went into more powerful vehicles, not in less total fuel burned.” is flat out wrong. First of all, the increase in total fuel consumption comes from the great increase in the number of cars not the efficiency of them. More important, modern efficient cars are in no way more powerful than those of the past. It makes me think you’ve never bombed around in a honkin’ 1977 Olds Delta 88 with the bulletproof 350 motor or hauled it in any of those ground shaking 400 cu. in. plus monsters from a bygone era. For a long time people used the family sedan to tow boats and travel trailers and hay wagons when the tractor broke down.

  13. Ronald says:

    Paul K.,
    You wrote “Since government is ineffective. “ I don’t get that. Governments have sometimes been ineffective at times, but others they are very effective. Just do something that would bring a SWAT team to your house. Others would say that government is effective at being bad. Whatever. I could just give you many examples that government is effective. There is bad government, ineffective government and good government. Kind of like good fats, carbos and proteins and bad fats, carbos and proteins, it’s all about choice and effort. I think there is such a thing as good government and it can be used in the greenhouse gas problem.

    There are many examples of our present tax system working against us on carbon fuel consumption. In our state, we pay a sales tax on new and used cars which increases the cost of cars. If the money that goes into paying the sales tax went into hybrid electrics, plug-ins or increased energy efficiency and taxed the fuel instead, we would go a long way into paying for more efficient cars.

    Or taxes on property. Most property is going to be with us 50, 100 or more and land a million years from now. But the fossil fuel energy is going to be here just a few decades. I think we are enormously stupid for using that up and having taxes on land which doesn’t affect anything other than making our cost of living higher. Property in high competition areas like cities would still need to be there, although maybe lower, but we could eliminate property taxes on farmland and only tax the fossil fuels that’s used so that would be used more efficiently.

    We should tax those things that we can run out of and lower the taxes on those things that are more permanent. What’s somebody in 2050 or 2080 going to say? Oh, great that you used up all the fossil fuel that you could, that was a great idea now that we don’t have any. Tax property and you have property and run out fossil fuels fast. Tax fossil fuels, and you have property and run out of fossil fuels slower.

    I don’t think carbon is taxed at all except for maybe counting the gasoline fuel taxes which are so low they don’t even pay for much of our road system, much less the general fund for government.

    Cap and trade is a program that can be filled with corruption.

    I’m for separating the carbon taxes between production import/export sensitive industries and consumption. People may be worried about their jobs being lost to China or India who wouldn’t tax carbon and that’s understandable. That’s why we should have a production import/export carbon tax that the whole world could agree to and each country would tax their own industries. The consumption tax would be separate with a goal of taxing to a percentage of Gross National Product. If we tax consumption in our country at 1, 2 or 10 percent of GNP instead of sales or property taxes, that would only affect the kind of consumption we have in our country, not in industries in competition with other countries. That way when some people say talk about losing business to other countries, any country can do more or less than other countries and not have it tied to their employment/ import/export industries.