The core problem with President Barack Obama’s speech on climate change is that it rejects environmental science in favor of the utopian idea that we can, acting collectively, control the weather. His beliefs on climate resemble his beliefs about the economy, in which he has repeatedly suggested that careful stewardship by the government will prevent the booms and busts of the past. He is committed, a priori, to statist management.
If George W. Bush could be accused of excluding scientific evidence that would imply the need for regulation, Obama must stand accused of trying to bend scientific evidence to his paradigm of the state. He referred, for example, to carbon dioxide as a “pollutant”–at best a legal fiction based on a flawed Supreme Court decision, not a fact about any direct harm the gas does to life on Earth, aside from warming it (an essential function).
“Ninety-seven percent of scientists,” he said, “including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data, have now put that to rest. They’ve acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it. So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.” That is not, actually “the question.” The better questions are: can we do anything; what should we do; and what will the costs be?