Excitable Matthew Yglesias does recognize an interesting dichotomy in Warmist beliefs
Ours is a populist age, dominated not only by the anti-elitist posturing of Donald Trump and the Republican Party but also by a resurgent left that views “billionaire” as a dirty word. Many of our most profound problems, however, originate not in the pathologies of a narrow ruling class but among the broad mass of humanity.
A powerful reminder came in the form of last week’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The study contains the now-customary warnings of grievous future harms from climate change, plus a new section detailing the stark reality that it is now too late to avert significant warming.
For decades, pointy-headed elites have called on the nations of the world to address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions by putting a meaningful price on carbon. For the most part, it hasn’t happened — not because of the perfidy of the fossil-fuel industry, but because the idea of a carbon tax is toxically unpopular.
Yes, some polls show public support for a carbon tax. But in the real world, carbon taxation lost badly in two separate ballot initiatives in Washington State in 2016 and 2018. If a carbon tax can’t win in a state President Joe Biden carried by almost 20 points last year, and which has no local fossil-fuel industry, where can it win? And as this study of the Washington experience shows, it was only over the course of the actual campaign that public support for carbon taxation collapsed.
Oops? Remember, Jay Inslee was the governor of Washington, who’s primary focus was on ‘climate change’. That’s what he ran on. Yet, Doing Something about climate doom in practice failed. Much like his presidential aspirations when he ran as the Climate Guy. Doing Something is popular right up till people are asked to pay for it themselves.
This, in turn, is why climate activists have basically moved on from pricing. Instead they have put their faith in the kind of subsidy efforts that exist in small ways in the bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate approved last week and in the larger, more partisan budget proposal Congress will debate this month and next.
That’s sound politics. But public hostility to carbon pricing is a reminder that there will be sharp limits to any kind of real climate action. Concern about climate change, while real and widespread, is also alarmingly shallow. Voters want action on climate, but not action of the sort that would cause anything they buy to become more expensive. Thus the progressive dream of mandating 100% carbon-free electricity in a reconciliation package is inevitably going to run into some of the same problems as a carbon tax.
When people start realizing how expensive all the climate garbage in the “infrastructure” bill and the Dems $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill are they’ll say “hold your
horses electric vehicles there, Sparky.” When they realize how expensive EVs are, and how limiting they are, and how much less you get for the money, they’ll be utterly disinterested.
All of this leads to a difficult truth: The problem here lies not with the politicians, or even with the billionaires or oil companies. It lies with voters themselves, who recognize that climate change is a real problem but are not necessarily willing to sacrifice much of anything to tackle it.
They aren’t. Remember this from 2019?
(The Hill) Another emerging theme from the survey is that people do not want to spend their own money to combat climate change. Thirty-seven percent do not want to pay any additional taxes, and only 14 percent are willing to pay even $1 more a month. (poll here)
With the Washington Post’s new paywall rules, I can’t see this one from around the same time, but, it showed that most didn’t want to pay $10 more a month, if memory serves. Warmists find Doing Something popular in theory, not practice, not when it will cost them money and negatively affect their own lives.
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