Progressive Views: Tired Old Reruns

by Cindy Offutt
for the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star, May 31, 2019

Cars on freeway in foreground, wind turbines in distance
“Wind farm and greenhouse gas farm, together” by Kevin Dooley is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

A recent Letter to the Editor sought to refute a “Progressive Views” column about energy and the climate crisis (Kevin Henning, “Think about conservation”).  The letter-writer claimed that because Mr. Henning is “not an earth scientist,” because some of his sourcing lay with “very liberal groups’ so-called research,” and because he hadn’t read the same things the letter-writer had read, that Mr. Henning’s views were dishonest or uninformed or “make-believe.”

For the record, Mr. Henning has a degree in Petroleum Engineering with a minor in geology.  However, I am not a scientist (though I do have a couple of degrees and can comprehend English reasonably well).  I consider myself liberal on many issues (but not all), and I have never read a word of what Dr. Rusty Reise has written about climate change (though I have read a number of other authors who dispute the larger consensus about the climate crisis).

That said, none of the letter-writer’s so-called “Setting the record straight” points renders me (or Mr. Henning) incapable of understanding what scientists and all the other types of people who study the earth have concluded – which is that the climate crisis is real, that its effects are cascading towards us, and that we humans need to do something about it – and soon – if we are to mitigate those effects for coming generations.

Psychologists tell us that use of words such as “climate change” and “global warming” completely alienates a certain segment of the population. Substance and science cease to matter once certain folks read those words.  It’s as if their brains just click closed.

So be it.  At this point in time, the number of people who still insist that the climate crisis is a hoax is in precipitous decline, even amongst Republicans.

The people who remain relevant on the subject are those Republicans and Independents who retain a capacity for critical thought.  They are people who can still discern the difference between credible and non-credible assertions, between fact and invention, and between yesterday’s party line and today’s reality-based responsibilities.

Repeating tired old arguments or slighting the messenger or even calling out “liberal” sourcing no longer cuts it with a majority of Americans – or, for that matter, a majority of Texans.  In much of the world beyond Kendall County – to include within larger-than-you-might-expect Republican circles – the reality of the climate crisis and the absolute necessity of doing something about it have finally moved front and center.  

At this point, the only relevant question is this:  What’s to be done about it?

Despite some folks’ obsessing over the Green New Deal (and how its implementation would supposedly do away with cars, airplanes, hamburgers and flatulent cows!), it turns out there are loads of genuinely terrific ideas out there on how to start dealing with the climate crisis.

As Mr. Henning noted in his op/ed piece, using energy wisely and conservatively is one strategy that can make a significant difference as we transition to cleaner energy sources.

Another strategy that makes a great deal of sense for a capitalist economy like ours is called Carbon Fee & Dividend.  If you happened to catch the May 12th episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” you learned about it.  Here’s John Oliver’s description of how Canada has done it:

How do you put a price on carbon and make things more expensive without harming the people who can least afford it?

It’s actually pretty simple. Very basically, [the Canadians] are taking the money they collect and giving it back to their citizens.  They are doing this by pooling the money they collect, then sending it back to taxpayers as a rebate… In fact, they designed it so that the rebates are anticipated to exceed the increased costs for about 70% of Canadian households.  Lower income households will benefit the most.

You can learn more about Carbon Fee & Dividend at two excellent websites, one more politically conservative than the other, but both generally bi-partisan. 

The Climate Leadership Council was founded in 2017 by a number of well-regarded Republicans.  Its carbon-pricing proposal is supported by numerous businesses, corporations and economists.

The other group, called Citizens’ Climate Lobby, was founded in 2007.  It is a grassroots group that is advocating for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763, which is not the same as the Green New Deal).  Among other things, it harnesses the power of the free-market to reduce carbon emissions.

If you are tired of the same old worn-out reruns disavowing the reality of the climate crisis, take a look at both websites to learn more about how Carbon Fee & Dividend and H.R. 763 would work within our capitalist system to reduce our carbon emissions.  It may surprise you!

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