Thinking Tech

How Al Gore got it wrong

How Al Gore got it wrong

Posting in Design

The so-called Climate Bill is a jobs bill. By fighting it, global warming denialists, and carbon industry lobbyists, are keeping us out of markets that can grow like the Internet did in the 1990s, and real estate did in the last decade.

Al Gore was right on the science but, as usual, he was wrong on the politics.

Global warming denialists, backed by industry lobbyists, are now on the march against any action on climate change. They succeeded in stopping a climate bill in Australia, and they have delayed action on a U.S. bill.

They have also used a dirty trick worthy of Richard Nixon to throw climate scientists into disarray. Imagine if your safe were robbed, and the contents then twisted by the thieves so you were made into the defendant in the dock. That's happening right now, and it's disgusting.

The right argument for action is in the bill's new title -- The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

Right now we're subsidizing carbon and ignoring its costs. Even if climate change were not real, even if the glaciers weren't disappearing, the ice caps melting, the polar bears dieing, the storms growing, and plant climate ranges creeping northward, carbon would still have pollutants.

Parents who complain about mercury in vaccines need to know there is tons being deposited into the air they breathe, and the water they drink, every day by coal-fired power plants. Gasoline contains dozens of pollutants, and anyone who has lived near Houston for more than a day knows the damage from petrochemical plants.

This whole "cap and trade" regime is designed to charge for these costs. Yes, it raises the price of carbon energy. It's supposed to. But how else do you intend to deal with all this pollution -- not just the climate impacts but all of them? Or are you going to pretend no pollution is dangerous?

This provides a quiet subsidy to other forms of energy -- solar, wind, tides, geothermal -- and the technologies needed to get them to market. It does this without paying off anyone. It just raises the price of alternatives to account for their external costs. If these other forms of energy have such costs, we can charge for them, too. But they don't.

What we are talking about, in the end, are market incentives. America has always used market incentives to get the development it wanted. Canals, railroads, highways, the whole carbon energy complex, all depended (and depend) on various tax dodges and incentives in order to move forward.

This bill doesn't even ask to do away with them. Just pay the full costs of what you're doing and these newer technologies will bury you.

Not only that, but in burying you they will create jobs. Lots of jobs. Good jobs, with good pay. Renewables are already creating new jobs at a faster rate than carbon (from a smaller base) and that is going to continue.

Right now Germany and China are burying us here. Absolutely burying us. They have provided their suppliers with market incentives, and they're eating our lunch. Tried to buy a Euro lately?

We can catch up. We can pass them, if we have the incentives in our laws with which to do it. We have more scientists, more engineers, more entrepreneurs, bigger capital markets, and smart workers hungry for work.

The so-called Climate Bill is, in fact, a jobs bill. By fighting it, global warming denialists, and the carbon energy industries, are keeping us out of markets that can grow like the Internet did in the 1990s, and real estate did in the last decade.

Want to know why you can't find work? Exxon. That's why.

Oh, and did I mention that when you "burn" hydrogen (or ammonia), the pollution is water? Save it, store it, use it, and you're creating water in proportion to energy use. You can't do that with carbon. Which is one reason why even the Arabs are looking to create incentives for renewable energy.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure