Climate speech, part 3: John McCain loves big government

Sen. McCain believes in much bigger government than I do. Who knew?

I don’t mean his endorsement of France’s nuclear strategy — although it is going to take a lot of government subsidies and mandates to get this country to build trillions of dollars worth of new nuclear plants by 2050, and McCain would have to force several states to build Yucca mountains-type storage sites (see “here”). Nor do I mean his embrace of a cap & trade that will subject most sectors of the economy to carbon regulations.

To a minor extent, I mean his embrace of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic offsets that will be “certified, measured, and verifiable” — since that will get the government in the business of measuring and monitoring everything else in the economy that isn’t in the cap, since offsets are, by McCain’s own definition, “credits for reductions made from sectors of the economy outside the trading system.”

But primarily he is a big government conservative because he loves adaptation, maybe more than he loves prevention, since his climate plan certainly won’t avert catastrophe. Adaptatation requires very big government — much bigger government than prevention does.


In his speech (here), McCain spells out just the very beginnings of big government adaptation:

In the years ahead, we are likely to see reduced water supplies … more forest fires than in previous decades … changes in crop production … more heat waves afflicting our cities and a greater intensity in storms. Each one of these consequences of climate change will require policies to protect our citizens, especially those most vulnerable to violent weather. Each one will require new precautions in the repair and construction our roads, bridges, railways, seawalls and other infrastructure. Some state and local governments have already begun their planning and preparation for extreme events and other impacts of climate change. The federal government can help them in many ways, above all by coordinating their efforts, and I am committed to providing that support.

Sometimes I forget how old funny McCain is. Where are state and local governments going to get the tens of billions of dollars needed to set up levies to protect all of their major coastal cities and roads and other infrastructure from sea level rise? Where are state and local governments going to get the tens of billions of dollars needed to deal with a permanent drought in the Southwest, an increase in wildfires by a factor of two to five, a dramatic increase in intense deluges and flooding, salt-water infiltration, and on and on?


Small, unintrusive democratic government works best when there is abundance and prosperity, so people and cities and states and countries aren’t fighting over critical necessities and other matters of life and death.

If we allow CO2 concentrations to significantly exceed 450 ppm, as McCain’s plan almost certainly would, then we will be moving to centuries of scarcity, where we have much less potable water, food, energy, and arable land. “Big” government doesn’t adequately describe that future. Only “Huge” government can relocate millions of citizens, build massive levees, ration crucial resources like water and arable land, mandate harsh and rapid reductions in certain kinds of energy — all of which will be inevitable if we don’t quickly get on the sustainable path to below 450 ppm but instead stay on the long painful journey to 800 to 1000 ppm.

Conservatives typically endorse adaptation as a strategy because they don’t really believe global warming is a serious problem, or one that humans can prevent, or because they hate government regulations and are happy to let future generations sort out the mess we leave them. As the blog Redstate put it,

“… adaptation presents a clear path towards dealing with global warming and climate change. The effects of global warming are evident, however climate change is not man made, in addition, the changes in global temperatures are irreversible. The more humans adapt, the better off society will be when it comes to global warming.”

At least McCain didn’t drink that truly suicidal Kool-Aid. The fact sheet he released Monday says:

John McCain Will Develop a Climate Change Adaptation Plan

John McCain Believes A Comprehensive Approach To Addressing Climate Change Includes Adaptation As Well As Mitigation. He believes:

An Adaptation Plan Should Be Based Upon National And Regional Scientific Assessments Of The Impacts Of Climate Change.

An Adaptation Plan Should Focus On Implementation At The Local Level Which Is Where Impacts Will Manifest Themselves.

A Comprehensive Plan Will Address The Full Range Of Issues: Infrastructure, Ecosystems, Resource Planning, And Emergency Preparation.

Again, what a comedian. Yes, adaptation plans must focus on local implementation. But McCain knows very well localities have neither the resources or the authority to deal with what is to come. Where is Arizona, for instance, going to get fresh water in the coming decades? Desalinization plants piping water in from the Pacific? I’d love to see Phoenix make that happen on its own.


Anyway, if it is done honestly, McCain’s comprehensive adaptation plan will end up being the a blueprint for the hugest, most intrusive government that this country — and perhaps the world — has ever seen. I always knew McCain was a far-left progressive, much as those of us who want the kind of emissions reduction and aggressive clean energy technology deployment strategy needed to stabilize below 450 ppm are the true conservatives, desperately trying to conserve our livable climate and thwart those Huge-Government adapters.