Inconvenient Truth: Shultz and Baker's Disastrously Mistimed Carbon Tax

Two former secretaries of state -- George P. Shultz and James Baker -- published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday proposing a conservative response to climate change.  After a nod to President Reagan's role in restoring the ozone layer, they wrote:

Just as in the 1980s, there is mounting evidence of problems with the atmosphere that are growing too compelling to ignore. And, once again, there is uncertainty about what lies ahead. The extent to which climate change is due to man-made causes can be questioned. But the risks associated with future warming are so severe that they should be hedged.

The responsible and conservative response should be to take out an insurance policy. Doing so need not rely on heavy-handed, growth-inhibiting government regulations. Instead, a climate solution should be based on a sound economic analysis that embodies the conservative principles of free markets and limited government.

Actually the first person I saw arguing this approach -- that although the extent of man-made causes of climate change (neĆ© global warming) can be questioned, we have to do something about it for reasons of "insurance" -- was none other than that distinctly non-conservative former secretary of state, John Kerry.  Perhaps this was at a moment Kerry realized his own scientific limitations, that everything he knew was based on  the advice of "experts" he didn't really completely understand. But no matter. Almost every politician in Washington was the same way.

Schulz and Baker have this in mind:

We suggest a solution that rests on four pillars. First, creating a gradually increasing carbon tax. Second, returning the tax proceeds to the American people in the form of dividends. Third, establishing border carbon adjustments that protect American competitiveness and encourage other countries to follow suit. And fourth, rolling back government regulations once such a system is in place.

Ah, a tax! Who would have thought of that? Actually Al Gore, who did something similar with the help of some particularly greedy hedge-fund types. They called it a "carbon exchange" and it is now extinct, although several of its founders, including Gore, made fortunes. (NOTE: What Gore did was fraudulent. I don't think Shultz and Baker are suggesting anything remotely like that, though their proposal has elements of income redistribution that don't seem especially conservative.)

But speaking of Al Gore, there is a much bigger "Inconvenient Truth" that appeared almost at the same time as the Shultz/Baker proposal -- it seems there may be no significant climate change at all. The whole ball of wax came crashing down only days before the former secretaries published their thoughts that were obviously many weeks or months in preparation.

From last Sunday's Daily Mail, under the headline "Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data":