A new piece of conventional wisdom is rapidly congealing among mainstream pundits: global warming is happening, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Might as well just batten down the hatches and hope for the best.
You’ll hear the same basic message from Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson, Newsweek columnist George Will, and a number of other mandarins of center-right establishment opinion.
Let’s be clear: This proto-conventional wisdom is wrong. There’s plenty we can do about global warming.
What would it mean to do something serious about climate change? Scientists tell us that to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gases at between 450 and 550 parts per million CO2 equivalent—a level sufficient to avoid unstoppable, irreversible changes—we’ll need to reduce global GHG emissions by around 80% by 2050. (Obviously all these figures are approximations, and could move up or down with future study.)
That sounds like a huge task, and if you’re trapped in a bubble of conventional thinking, you’ll likely throw your hands up in despair. But there are several plans and programs on the table that claim to be able to meet that goal—without sparking a global economic recession, and without relying on coal or nuclear power.