Inconvenient Truths and Political Reality

An op-ed in the Washington Post by Robert Samuelson today points out that there is not much that we can do in the near future to stop rising carbon levels in the atmosphere.  The International Energy Agency reports that even with very optimistic estimates of technology innovation and huge increases in market share for wind, solar, and other non-emitting energy sources, greenhouse gases will still be higher in 2050 than they are today.  Samuelson takes this as a lesson from the report.

No government will adopt the draconian restrictions on economic growth and personal freedom (limits on electricity usage, driving and travel) that might curb global warming. Still, politicians want to show they’re “doing something.” The result is grandstanding. Consider the Kyoto Protocol. It allowed countries that joined to castigate those that didn’t. But it hasn’t reduced carbon dioxide emissions (up about 25 percent since 1990), and many signatories didn’t adopt tough enough policies to hit their 2008-2012 targets. By some estimates, Europe may overshoot by 15 percent and Japan by 25 percent.