The one way to fight climate change

I think Drum is right that when it comes to climate change it pretty much all boils down to this:

That leaves only one solution: make it cheap to fight. If we can make the sacrifice fairly small, everything changes. But how? A ban on plastic straws, for example, is certainly a small sacrifice, but it’s performative, not real. In fact, pretty much all sacrifices on a personal level—straws, Priuses, recycling, etc.—are fine, but add up to approximately zero. As long as we’re collectively committed to extracting and burning every last hydrocarbon molecule in the earth’s crust, everything we do is just for show.

And make no mistake: we are committed to burning every last hydrocarbon molecule in the earth’s crust. Norway is a lovely, green, socially conscious, Nordic-model democracy. But they are as rapacious as Saudi Arabia in making sure to extract every bit of oil they can from the North Sea. Or how about nice, socialist Canada? Ditto, and they even demand that we build pipelines across the Midwest to transport their oil. Poor, oppressed, earth-loving Africa? Ditto again. The only places on earth that aren’t busily extracting every bit of gas, coal, and oil they can are the places that don’t haveany gas, coal, or oil.

In other words, we’re doomed—unless we can figure out a way to make fighting climate change free or cheap. That means renewable energy at scale that’s cheaper than fossil fuels. This is it. There is no other answer. [emphasis mine]

And that in turn means one thing: lots and lots of R&D and lots and lots of subsidized infrastructure buildout. Put it on the national credit card and it won’t cost much. Convince climate scientists to stop waffling constantly about the cause of increased wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and so forth, and people will be willing to pay for it. It will take a while, but so would any other solution, and this at least has a chance of working. The coming approach of high-level AI and robotic technology makes it even more feasible.

Yep.  We are getting every last big of fossil fuel out of the ground and using it unless we actually get energy more cheaply from ways that don’t require burning fossil fuel.  So, let’s make that happen.


Photo of the day

This Wired gallery of award-winning drone photography is awesome.

A polar bear leaps over water on sea ice in Canada, north of the Arctic Circle. Florian Ledoux captured this image from a drone last August while sailing around Lancaster Sounds and several fjords near Baffin Island. It nabbed him the title of Drone Photographer of the Year.  Florian Ledoux

Trump the unpopular

First a little comparative context from Peter Baker (and Gallup).

So, Trump is faring the worst, at this point compared to all predecessors, but if you are wondering how such a phenomenally unfit president isn’t even worse, it’s because we’ve got a pretty decent economy.  As I’ve noted before, when you compare Trump’s performance relative to the economy, it really is historically bad.  That said, it should be even worse, but “partisanship is a helluva drug” as they say.  Patrick Egan with a nice tweet putting Trump’s approval numbers in context of the economy:

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