Matt, as you've pointed out that it is good politics to fight racial inequity with anti-poverty measures that are not race specific, i suggest that it is good politics to address climate change by measures that seek to make the air that we breath now healthier. We should be talking about particulate matter more than sea levels in 2050.

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1. I’m assuming the usual boring comments thing is you being ironic. Following you on Twitter, I feel like these days you are totally channeling your inner cranky old guy. Which to tell the truth, I dig.

2. I wonder how much the heat wave out west, especially the northwest, is going to affect the publics support for climate change actions. I was sort of agnostic about it. However, after two weeks of 100-ish or plus weather, I am a believer. I just had my daughters with me for two weeks in Boise. It sucked. Even my cabin in the mountains it was pretty damn hot.

3. Still, I’m sort of cynical about all the US base climate activists. A carbon tax in the United States, won’t even make a dent in the global issue. Noah Smith is spot on when he says that it is research and technology that is going to save us. The developing world, especially Africa, is going to need energy. Now solar and wind can fill a big part of it, but we western countries need to help subsidize this. (Apparently he has a rant about China this morning, I will read after this)

4. The anti-nuclear thing sort of drives me crazy. I work in the energy field. I hate working in nuclear power plants, luckily they’re not my specialty, but they beat the hell out of coal plants.

5. My job is actually inspecting gas turbine power plants. I work for Siemens energy which is one of the three big producers of gas turbine’s. While sales have dropped off from maybe 10 years ago, we are still building new plants. One of the things that I’m proud of, is we have been more instrumental in replacing call plants than renewable energy.

6. This is a point where I could go on a long rant about how people are overestimating, or is it underestimating, some of the engineering and technical challenges of solar and wind power. People always say “the cost of wind and solar energy is the lowest”… but it never tells the full story, especially when it comes to peak power.

7. Continuing my gas turbine sales pitch, you would be amazed at how efficient the new ones are when built in a combined cycle plant. The other big thing is you guessed her brains are built to run on Hydrogen/Natgas mixes. In fact, many could be adapted to run on pure hydrogen. I am bullish on hydrogen technology.

Anyway. I wish I was more interesting this morning. I’m on my way to Pittsburgh for one day of training, and then off to Brazil for 2 1/2 weeks. I get to spend a week of it in Urugiana. I love obscure places.

Parent Brag follows: just dropped my daughter off at the South Carolina Governors of Science and Math. A two year public boarding school. It’s for 11th and 12th graders. Daughter applied as a 9th grader and got in. 300 of the brightest kids in South Carolina. Her goal is to be an engineer. I’m trying to steer her to energy. Maybe she will be the one to have the breakthrough that saves us.

Have a great day folks.

As always. Typed on my phone while on a plane. Forgive the grammar and spelling.

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The general dynamic seems to be that there was a flash in the pan with certain far left environmental groups being founded and/or becoming more vocal right around the time of the 2018 midterm and the rise in Democratic expectations during the 2020 presidential primary.

But there's not a lot of adequate gate keeping among all environmental organizations, the big Greens like League of Conservation Voters, NRDC, Sierra Club, etc. They are competing with Sunrise, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and others for attention as "environmentalists" without a reasonably easy measurement of success outside of media coverage--which as Matt notes is very easy to manipulate top down with funding and staged public events.

At the same time, established environmental organizations have been questioning their own privilege, their historical legacies of having been linked in the past to some right-wing causes of nativism and xenophobia and eugenics. I think they themselves feel very vulnerable to charges of inadequacy of environmental justice.

Anecdotally, I find the entire environmental movement very weird for a shared approach to politics as prioritizing a certain holier than thou attitude and emphasis on working in the movement. Specifically, as a senior Congressional staffer I've several times in my career poked my toes into the water to see if I wanted to make the jump to working for environmental organizations, and found that they all tended to share the world view that it was better to hire someone from within environmentalism, with a background in hard science or commitment to progressive activism, and teach that person how the Hill works and how to lobby, than it is to follow the example of every other sector or industry trying to influence politics and hire people from the Hill and then teach them the specific issues to advocate on.

In general I think environmentalists, broadly, perform poorly in providing legislative subsidy to Congress. Which means major climate progress is occurring despite, not because of, environmental groups and their behaviors.

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Welding climate change to all those other left-wing causes makes it really hard to see how you're going to convince anyone who isn't already in your corner to work with you.

For instance, we've seen several surveys showing that younger Repulicans aren't as anti-environment as older ones, but this approach seems almost custom made to avoid bringing cross-pressured voters into your corner.

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The main problem I see with groups like the Sunrise Movement is that they are anti-science. They always say that we could go carbon free if only corrupt politicians didn't interfere. Well, no, there are still hard technical problems to solve before this is possible.

I once worked on a related project and while walking towards my office one day, I saw some protesters close to my building. One of the signs said something like "We must abolish capitalism to save the planet". How could we get people who believe this to trust the science? Maybe have them read engineering papers?

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I've long thought that climate activists should take a page from Wayne Wheeler, who ran the Anti-Saloon League and got Prohibition through a hard-drinking country *by Constitutional Amendment.* Imagine that, he got a majority of boozer state legislators in 3/5 of the states to ban alcoholic beverages. What was the lesson? Wheeler backed any politician who voted dry, regardless of their position on other topics. He delivered them votes and money, and did not care about their other position. American climate activists could make a lot of progress if they single-mindedly backed *all* politicians who support carbon-reducing policies. If a pro-life or pro-gun politician supported a game-changing carbon tax, would the climate activists today support her? Probably not, but Wayne Wheeler (in that position) would have done, and that is how Prohibition got passed. (Never mind that Prohibition turned out to be mostly a failed policy, the value of the lesson was in the passing of it.)

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This post was so good, it got me to pay for a subscription. Free previews work!

I’ll never forget my local chapter of Sunrise working hard to try and unseat our State Senator, who has been excellent on climate, with their preferred candidate who was objectively worse on climate issues, but was to the incumbent’s left on some other issues. They’re just fundamentally unserious as an environmental group and I wish the media would stop paying attention to them and start paying attention to groups actually trying to make a difference about climate change.

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Wow…love this. The anti-nuclear greens are insane. I can vaguely understand how the greens can be against geoengineering, but against carbon capture? Are you kidding me? Just insane.

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I think "environmental organizations themselves don’t consistently prioritize [climate change]" is putting it too kindly. The principle behind the environmental justice movement is fairly incompatible with treating climate change as a crisis: the idea in EJ is "we can't solve this unless we solve every other hard problem first". We can't do reforestation unless it doesn't displace current tenants of reforested land; we can't do electric vehicles unless the lithium ion battery industry is morally pure as the driven snow; we can't nominate the single best policymaker on climate to head the EPA because she maximized for emissions reductions instead of social equity; we can't do urban density unless everyone gets to live next to a tree – all leading up to the thrilling thesis statement, "we can't solve the climate crisis unless we first abolish capitalism", in which case we're all fucked.

There is a steelman case for EJ, though (and I'm not just saying that because many/maybe a majority of the policy jobs I'm currently applying for ask for experience with EJ or at least mention it in the listing, though that is in fact the case). For one thing, they have a point about the reforestation thing, where the benefits are more tenuous than on nuclear or lithium ion batteries. For another thing, an EJ framework – using the already-in-place concept of "environmental issues" as a whole – theoretically stands a chance of getting working class voters of color engaged in prioritizing the environment, if voters can see that activists care about addressing issues like air and water pollution that are primarily local and have obvious racially inequitable effects. This is kind of a racial-justice-left phrasing of the "blue-green alliance", and the rationale behind the Green New Deal.

But I don't think those coalition-building predictions have really been borne out at the federal level, as this post basically shows. As concerns priorities, of course we should be addressing air and water pollution with an eye towards reducing racial inequities AND addressing the climate crisis; I think any state with a Democratic majority can basically do both, and anywhere without one basically can't do either except for some investment in wind and solar. And we don't have time to do deep canvassing on everyone in the country and have a heart-to-heart about why they should care about climate change even more than healthcare; we certainly don't have time to end capitalism before we act. And the infuriating part is because the climate crisis ITSELF has racially and economically inequitable effects, maximizing for emissions reductions in the wealthy west IS the most equitable policy! Gaaaaaah.

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Regarding legislative dynamics, doesn't the fact that the climate change left is angrily attacking Biden improve the chances of a bipartisan bill? Getting ten Republican votes in the Senate was always going to be a struggle; but it seems to me it would be even a bigger struggle if the hard left was uncorking Champagne bottles in their glee at the awesome progressiveness of the proposal.

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Groups like Sunrise are not climate advocacy groups, they are Leftist agitprop organizations that sometimes talk about climate issues. Climate just happens to be an issue the left cares about in this country do they have to make noise.

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Real question for you: beyond the Very Online, how much play do these groups get in coverage?

I didn't know about the protest until you wrote about it. My primary front pages are NYTimes and NPR, and I didn't see any coverage of the protest either. You're a DC guy, and much more active on twitter, so did this get play locally/in the tweets? I just wonder if this is getting less play beyond the Very Online bubble than within it. In my (much Less Online) life, these climate left groups don't get much attention, other than some brief mentions in the Times and concern trolling on the right. Could just be me though.

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Noah Smith in his Substack today posits that China is the real enemy, not just geopolitically but also on climate control issues. China is extremely hesitant to sign on to any deal that could impact their economic growth. Smith says that the US is not the bad guy here as China is the aggressive party in any trade negotiations.

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Can’t decide if “get a grip” breaks your rule about not needing a recap/conclusion on an article and instead just ending it.

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One hard thing about climate change is that for most it has characteristics of a religious faith - you're told to trust the authorities on a matter about which you do not have, and cannot have, any direct personal knowledge. The authorities say if you do or don't do certain things now, bad or good things will happen later, probably after you're dead, but maybe even in this lifetime.

As a lot of American preachers and TV evangelists know, trying to convert people by threatening hellfire and brimstone is less successful than by promising prosperity.

That would counsel selling climate change policies as the smart strategy to position the United States as a market leader in what will be the most in-demand technologies of coming decades - the prosperity gospel version, not hellfire and brimstone. And lean into the competition-with-China angle, not away from it, as a way for us to come out ahead of them.

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“Democrat elites are convinced (rightly) that the mass public is too short-sighted and too parochial about climate change, and they are trying to drive the pace of change ahead of what pure popularism would suggest”

Democratic elites aren’t making many personal sacrifices. They continue to fly on airplanes and go on carbon intensive vacations. Al Gore had a 20,000 square foot house with a huge carbon foot print. How many Democratic elites live in a one bedroom apartment to keep their footprint small? Only poor ones. Bernie has three residences and has flown millions of miles.

Democratic elites support carbon pricing for very selfish reasons— they have enough disposable income to maintain their lifestyles even if flights and utility bills cost more. Conversely, these measures would force poorer people to actually cut back on travel, bump up the thermostat and car pool.

If Democratic elites were serious about climate change, they would support carbon rationing— a cap on individual/family carbon emissions that the rich can’t buy out of. Needless to say, there isn’t much elite support for rationing because there isn’t much elite willingness to make personal sacrifices for climate goals. They want the invisible hand of the market to force others to sacrifice while they feel good about buying green energy stocks.

Elite opinion is only more “progressive” on climate because it is more able to buy out of its proposed solutions.

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