Holman Jenkins writes in The Wall Street Journal, The Climate Speech Obama Didn’t Give, 6/28/2013
If we are serious about climate change, we must seriously factor in the accelerating rate of technological change already in our society. I’m personally impressed with what I read about the progress of nanobatteries, which may soon turn solar into a real contributor rather than a sinkhole for taxpayer charity. I’m impressed with the prospects for cheaper, inherently safe nuclear power, like in the new documentary, “Pandora’s Promise” (go see it!).
So here’s what we can really do to help future generations and ourselves. We can maintain the dynamism of our economy, from which new technology emerges. We can broadly favor low-carbon energy without prejudging (probably wrongly) which technologies will succeed. Carbon capture, for instance, may well be the sort of white elephant boondoggle we’ll be glad we avoided.
Now I believe these new technologies will emerge or not emerge largely irrespective of what government does, though a little help can’t hurt. I also believe, no matter what we do, the rest of the world will choose economic growth over reducing atmospheric carbon. So technology is our only hope.
The tax reform I envision other countries could adopt out of self-interest, not self-punishment. But it also doesn’t matter what they do. If the technologies that emerge are truly superior and competitive, other countries will adopt them anyway.
Either way, we will not have impoverished ourselves with futile gestures. We will have done absolutely the best thing government can do to address the risk that human greenhouse emissions will lead to dangerous climate change. We will have resisted the temptation—all too typical of Washington—to do foolish or cynical things in the guise of acting against global warming.