Jonathan Chait

Against Climate Fatalism


When Bill Clinton's health care reform effort failed, I was highly skeptical of liberal efforts to push reform through incremental measures. The problems of the system were just too vast and intertwined to handle piecemeal -- any problem you solve in one place just opens up a new problem elsewhere. It was a big-bang bill or anything, and this year we finally got the big bang bill.

When the big bang climate change bill failed this year, a lot of liberals have sunk into fatalism. I think that's wrong. Climate change is a problem that can be solved through a series of incremental measures. It's not the best solution, but it is a solution. Glenn Hurowitz has a good run-down of some of the politically feasible measures that can reduce carbon emissions. Summary:

I’d like to highlight four low-hanging fruit solutions for the United States that would achieve dramatic reductions in climate pollution without climate legislation: tax credits for carbon sequestration, black carbon, F-gases, and international finance. Combined, these simple actions could allow the United States to produce climate benefits exceeding even that achieved by comprehensive climate legislation.

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