View all Articles
Commentary By Ross Douthat

Neither Hot Nor Cold on Climate

Energy, Energy Climate, Geopolitics

Like a lot of conservatives who write about public policy, my views on climate change place me in the ranks of what the British writer Matt Ridley once dubbed the “lukewarmers.”

Lukewarmers accept that the earth is warming and that our civilization’s ample CO2 emissions are a major cause. They doubt, however, that climate change represents a crisis unique among the varied challenges we face, or that the global regulatory schemes advanced to deal with it will work as advertised. And they raise an eyebrow at the contrast between the apocalyptic, absolutist rhetoric with which these schemes are regularly defended and their actual details, which seem mostly designed to enable the globe’s statesmen to greenwash the pursuit of economic and political self-interest.

More specifically, lukewarmers look at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s official projections and see a strong likelihood that rising temperatures will drag on G.D.P. without leading to catastrophe. They look at the record of climatological predictions and see a pattern in which observed warming hugs the lower, non-disastrous end of the spectrum of projections. And they look at the substance of the Paris accord, which papered over a failed attempt to set binding emission rules with a set of fine-sounding promises, and see little to justify all the anguish and despair over Donald Trump’s decision to abandon it.

The despairing are unlikely to be convinced by this quick description, so for a better sense of the lukewarmist case, I recommend two recent essays by Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute: First, “The Problem With Climate Catastrophizing,” from Foreign Affairs, and second, “How to Worry About Climate Change,” from National Affairs.

But while inviting readers to ease their pain over Paris with the balm of lukewarmism, I also want to concede....

Read the entire piece here at The New York Times


Ross Douthat is a columnist for The New York Times. A version of this op-ed appears in print on June 4, 2017, on Page SR9 of the New York edition with the headline: Neither Hot Nor Cold on Climate.

This piece originally appeared in The New York Times