Dumbing Down Energy - Ron Johnson (Would Be Senator Elect)

Oct 01, 2010
Author: SCP Editor

Heads in the SandThis week U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson affirmed either a strong political agenda, an entrenched dogmatic world view or total ignorance – not mutually exclusive – opining that global warming is an ‘unproven’ science that has no place as a basis for U.S. policymaking. Johnson appealed to the well-traveled line of GOP reasoning that policies to address climate change are costly, more costly than the conventional energy policies in place today, and therefore would hurt U.S. business and result in jobs overseas to jurisdictions with less restrictions.

This is a bad argument. What is worse is the fact that the Obama administration, the majority of Democrats (some of them actually buy into it) and the alternative energy lobbies have let the GOP/Chamber of Commerce make and win it.


·         “Climate Change” is unproven – if Johnson et. al. want to make a strong epistemological claim steeped in robust skepticism, ‘how do you know’ in the strongest sense, then sure, climate change is unproven. On those grounds, anything which is not tautological, or defined, can be doubted. If Johnson et. al. accepts a more practical version of empiricism and science, then the overwhelming majority of scientists accept and endorse that the theory of climate change is based in fact.

The beauty of scientific theory and the way most scientists (who are not subsidized) do their work, is that if counterexamples and anomalies to the theory overwhelm, or refute the theory, then it is back to the drawing board. Lack of evidence, or refutation of evidence, undermines, or negates the theory.

So far, the overwhelming evidence accepted in the scientific community is that climate change is supported by the facts on the ground. It isn’t the scope of this newsletter to cite the evidence, but if you are so inclined, and have sufficient intellectual honesty, a pretty quick Google should provide some support here.

·         “Climate Change science has no place in policy making” – really? And physics has no place in airplane manufacturing models right?

·         “Putting a price on emissions will result in higher energy costs and jobs overseas” – there is no reason to believe that this is anything more than a threat, as opposed to an economic inevitability. In addition, it totally discounts the costs of climate change (but then arguing away the reality of climate change removes this problem altogether). The fact is that U.S. businesses will probably not ship the jobs overseas in the kinds of numbers that Johnson et. al. would like us to believe if policies restricting emissions are enacted. Moreover, if policies restricting emissions are more broadly enacted, new industries and jobs in alt energy and clean tech sectors would likely greatly offset jobs lost in sectors like mountain top mining. Finally, these same folks that try to scare us out of embracing climate change policies out of fear of shipping jobs overseas seem to have adopted quite well to the fact that the U.S. manufacturing industry is largely offshore because countries like Indonesia have  less restrictions for companies like Nike and production costs, as well as wages, are significantly lower. The U.S. economy did not collapse when these other sectors started moving offshore.

Johnson will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold in November. A recent poll showed Johnson with a slight lead in the race.


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