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Ed Driscoll

“China’s Not Debating This At All”

December 14th, 2009 - 3:00 am

At Newsbusters, Matthew Balan spotted Thomas Friedman of the New York Times doing some major dissembling when asked by Wolf Blitzer about ClimateGate during a segment of CNN’s Situation Room program, which aired this past Thursday (emphasis in Balan’s original post):

ramirez_global_warming_112709FRIEDMAN: Well, clearly, the skeptics and deniers are saying to use these e-mails to say all the research is wrong. Let’s see, all the research, from all the research centers in the world, built up over 50 years, is wrong? Because a couple of climate scientists talking to each other in private- you know, based on statements that they probably wished they had rephrased- sorry, Wolf, I don’t buy it….I’m disappointed with the language they [the scientists who wrote the leaked ClimateGate e-mails] used…But I’m not focused on them. Wolf. I’m focused on the fact that we know for the last 1,000 years- okay, that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has stayed steady. We also know since the Industrial Revolution, it suddenly spiked, and with that spike, [there] has been a spike in global average temperatures. We know that, okay. We know that for multiple sources.

And, by the way, Wolf, you know who’s not debating this nonsense at all? China. China’s not debating this at all. They know their glaciers are melting. They know something’s happening. And you know what they’re trying to do? They’re trying to clean our clock in solar, wind, [unintelligible], because they know it’s happening. They’re not caught up in this idiot debate, and that’s where we should be.

While China may or may not be cleaning our clock with solar power, they’re not necessarily cleaning their own landscape in the process, the Washington Post reported in 2008:

The first time Li Gengxuan saw the dump trucks from the nearby factory pull into his village, he couldn’t believe what happened. Stopping between the cornfields and the primary school playground, the workers dumped buckets of bubbling white liquid onto the ground. Then they turned around and drove right back through the gates of their compound without a word.

This ritual has been going on almost every day for nine months, Li and other villagers said.

In China, a country buckling with the breakneck pace of its industrial growth, such stories of environmental pollution are not uncommon. But the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co., here in the central plains of Henan Province near the Yellow River, stands out for one reason: It’s a green energy company, producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world. But the byproduct of polysilicon production — silicon tetrachloride — is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards.

“The land where you dump or bury it will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place. . . . It is like dynamite — it is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it,” said Ren Bingyan, a professor at the School of Material Sciences at Hebei Industrial University.

Similarly, as these photos highlight, China is definitely the very model of a postmodern pristine green economy.

And they may or may not “know their glaciers are melting” as Friedman insists, they’re pretty cool with coal, the Christian Science Monitor noted in 2004:

So much for Kyoto.

The official treaty to curb greenhouse-gas emissions hasn’t gone into effect yet and already three countries are planning to build nearly 850 new coal-fired plants, which would pump up to five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce.

The magnitude of that imbalance is staggering. Environmentalists have long called the treaty a symbolic rather than practical victory in the fight against global warming. But even many of them do not appear aware of the coming tidal wave of greenhouse-gas emissions by nations not under Kyoto restrictions.

By 2012, the plants in three key countries – China, India, and the United States – are expected to emit as much as an extra 2.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to a Monitor analysis of power-plant construction data. In contrast, Kyoto countries by that year are supposed to have cut their CO2 emissions by some 483 million tons.

In his post at Newsbusters, Balen also described this bit of circular logic from Friedman in response to a question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer:

Later in the interview, the CNN anchor asked about President Obama’s involvement with the climate change interview: “Obama, from your perspective, talks a good game, but is he doing enough?” Friedman replied, “ I think he is off to a very good start. I still think we need to have a price on carbon that would trigger mass innovation in green technology.” Blitzer interrupted with a reasonable follow-up question: “Can the U.S. economy afford that right now?” His guest answered, “Well, can we afford $5, $6 [a] gallon gasoline? Because that’s where we’re headed if we don’t do anything else.”

OK, so if we don’t tax the bejesus out of energy in general, we’ll have $5 a gallon gasoline. But this would be a problem for Friedman…why? It was a year ago this month that his fellow Timesmen recommended the recently-elected President Obama stick the American people with similarly high gas prices:

The recent infatuation with the Toyota Prius and other fuel-efficient cars could well come to a similar end. It took a gallon of gas at $4.10 to push the share of light trucks down to 45 percent in July. But as gasoline plummeted back to $1.60 a gallon, their share inched back up to 49 percent of auto sales in November.

There are several ways to tax gas. One would be to devise a variable consumption tax in such a way that a gallon of unleaded gasoline at the pump would never go below a floor of $4 or $5 (in 2008 dollars), fluctuating to accommodate changing oil prices and other costs. Robert Lawrence, an economist at Harvard, proposes a variable tariff on imported oil to achieve the same effect and also to stimulate the development of domestic energy sources.

In both cases, the fuel taxes could be offset with tax credits to protect vulnerable segments of the population.

While oil prices are all but sure to rise again as the world emerges from recession, further tempering consumption with a gas tax would both slow the rise in the price of crude and steer more revenue from energy consumption to the United States budget, rather than that of oil-exporting countries.

And in a troika of Northeast Corridor leftwing groupthink, the Washington Post and NBC’s Tom Brokaw agreed, in near-simultaneous unison.

In September of this year, Friedman previously gushed over the very undemocratic nature of China itself:

Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

Our one-party democracy is worse….

As Jonah Goldberg wrote at the time, Friedman’s worldview fits the thesis of his Liberal Fascism book perfectly:

So there you have it. If only America could drop its inefficient and antiquated system, designed in the age before globalization and modernity and, most damning of all, before the lantern of Thomas Friedman’s intellect illuminated the land. If only enlightened experts could do the hard and necessary things that the new age requires, if only we could rely on these planners to set the ship of state right. Now, of course, there are “drawbacks” to such a system: crushing of dissidents with tanks, state control of reproduction, government control of the press and the internet. Omelets and broken eggs, as they say. More to the point, Friedman insists, these “drawbacks” pale in comparison to the system we have today here in America.

I cannot begin to tell you how this is exactly the argument that was made by American fans of Mussolini in the 1920s. It is exactly the argument that was made in defense of Stalin and Lenin before him (it’s the argument that idiotic, dictator-envying leftists make in defense of Castro and Chavez today). It was the argument made by George Bernard Shaw who yearned for a strong progressive autocracy under a Mussolini, a Hitler or a Stalin (he wasn’t picky in this regard). This is the argument for an “economic dictatorship” pushed by Stuart Chase and the New Dealers. It’s the dream of Herbert Croly and a great many of the Progressives.

In his recent article on ClimateGate in the New York Post, Steven Hayward wrote:

Maybe the most egregious e-mail of the whole packet is not CRU Director Phil Jones’s “hide the decline” post, but one where he declares: “As you know, I’m not political. If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences. This isn’t being political; it is being selfish.”

This may not be political, but it’s certainly unscientific. And it casts an undeserved shadow over unbiased scientists who are trying honestly to get at the truth.

Somewhat analogously, Mark Steyn also recently noted:

Yet perhaps the most important revelation is not the collusion, the bullying, the politicization and the evidence-planting, but the fact that, even if you wanted to do honest “climate research” at the Climatic Research Unit, the data and the models are now so diseased by the above that they’re all but useless. Let Ian “Harry” Harris, who works in “climate scenario development and data manipulation” at the CRU, sum it up. Mr. Harris was attempting to duplicate previous results—i.e., to duplicate all that science that’s supposedly settled, and the questioning of which consigns you to the Climate Branch of the Flat Earth Society. How hard should it be to confirm settled science? After much cyber-gnashing of teeth, Harry throws in the towel:

“ARGH. Just went back to check on synthetic production. Apparently—I have no memory of this at all—we’re not doing observed rain days! It’s all synthetic from 1990 onwards. So I’m going to need conditionals in the update program to handle that. And separate gridding before 1989. And what TF happens to station counts?

“OH F–K THIS. It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I’m hitting yet another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity, it’s just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they’re found.”

Thus spake the Settled Scientist: “OH F–K THIS.” And on the basis of “OH F–K THIS” the world’s enlightened progressives will assemble at Copenhagen for the single greatest advance in punitive liberalism ever perpetrated on the developed world.

And with journalists such as Friedman and fellow Timesman and active participant on the East Anglia email list Andy Revkin cheering them on. If America isn’t quite yet the one-party autocratic state of Friedman’s dreams (shared by those who publish, and many who’ve toiled over the decades for the Gray Lady), an imaginary climate change crisis is the easiest way to make it happen.

And hopefully the last way, if enough American people come to their senses and say “F–K THIS” themselves in response to the attempt to simultaneously dupe and control them.

Related: “The Tom Friedman Paradox.”

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