Q. So you don’t believe the scientific consensus on global warming is established at this point?
A. This country, this world, the [human] race of which you and I are a part, is great at having consensuses that are in great error. And so I want to get the scientific facts, and find out what the situation is, and find out what is the cure, and find out what is the cure that is acceptable to the country that I represent and serve.
That’s the incoming chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees fuel economy regulations. In the 1970s, he was instrumental in pushing through the original CAFE standards; since then, he has been opposed to any improvements in standards.
In the last 10 years, the Democratic Party has been trying to change its image to appeal to moderate voters more. Its strategy has mostly fallen flat on its face – it made gains in 1998 and again this year mostly because the Republicans lost their heads – but professional politicians can be as irrational as anyone when it comes to strategy.
Part of that strategy has involved compromising on old defining issues, especially welfare, gun control, and the environment. Some liberals have found other issues to concentrate on, like universal health care and civil liberties. Others have atrophied, while the Democrats have been rushing to moderate their image on abortion and gay rights. More and more they’re overtly snubbing liberalism in favor of populism, and unfortunately even then they display too much nationalism, an irritating populist trait that prevents them from importing the successful health care system of France or Sweden or even Canada.
Ironically, while the Democrats are doing nothing, Mitt Romney’s economic advisor is Greg Mankiw, who supports Pigovian taxes, including gas taxes. It’s not especially popular in a country where people think they have an inalienable right to get a gallon of gas for the same price they can get a gallon of mineral water, but it’s an essential part of any sound environmental policy. The left-wing solution of regulations only isn’t enough; California’s cars have lower emissions than the rest of the USA’s, but France’s are even lower (in France gas cost €1.40/liter last time I checked).
Oh well. At least I’ll get many more winters like this one, when the temperature is in the low 10s/high 50s in December. I’ve always had a lot of luck when it comes to weather; presumably, this extends to global warming’s making New York’s winters mild the same year I moved here.