In a democracy it would matter what the voters want. Not here.

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I increasingly believe that the point of electrification isn't the environment. It's rationing. There simply isn't enough renewable electricity right now to supply the economy. It's also not likely we'll get there any time soon. But there is probably enough to support the lifestyle that environmental activists think Americans should have. And government officials, who are largely Democrats, will get to decide what's essential and what's not.

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And get to decide who gets that electricity and who doesn’t.

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It's also grift. Market competition is hard work. Soaking up billions of dollars of government subsidies is comparatively easy. The people in that milieu know the right people, and they have access to the right events; they know how to write the grant proposals, and how to spin the those subsidies into huge market gains.

Particularly odious are the large nonprofits and think tanks whipping up subsidies for intermittent energy in the developing world. They stick these places with inadequate energy to industrialize and lots of debt, and skim off the top through insider trading and grift. It's 21st century colonialism.

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It just seems like solutions should be obvious. Offer up anything and everything. Let people choose. If a product is subpar, make it better so more people want it. If the product is great, word will spread. Asking people to pay more for less is never going to be acceptable. For instance, I bought a tankless water heater for my family of four. For one year, we took tepid, weak showers. After that year trial, we never felt fully clean no matter what. We bought a regular hot water heater. Now, we are warm, clean, and happy. It's not that we won't try again, but some of these products are trash.

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Extremely persuasive and helpful to have such a wealth of data to ground the argument!

This article led me to think also about the prospects for reaching a critical slice of liberal, Democratic thought leaders from the 29% in the Liberal Patriot/Blueprint poll who prioritize climate and environment. I wonder what it would take for some portion of them to let go of radical energy transition policies and instead support “all of the above.”

I write that as someone once part of the 29%. Eventually I came around to "all of the above." But in my earlier climate emergency incarnation, I couldn't do that because I was in the grip of genuine terror over prospects for the future -- not just for the world but for myself and people I care about. I read deeply in apocalyptic sources like the book The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells. I was in a state of mind where any vision short of abolishing fossil fuels as rapidly as possible caused me to freak out in a very personal way.

My sense is that a lot of opinion makers in the Democratic Party are in a personal space similar to where I was. Some of them who might be persuadable work in places like universities, financial firms, nonprofits (usually not environmental ones), local and state government agencies. I think enough of these professionals to make a difference in Democratic Party circles could be persuaded to back an “all of the above” energy strategy. But they would need a social space where it’s acceptable to talk about climate change outside the socially and professionally enforced boundaries of the apocalyptic, planetary emergency narrative.

That means potential new converts would need a counter-narrative not just about energy resources, and not just about winning elections, but also specifically about climate and the future. The Breakthrough Institute and writers like Roger Pielke, Jr. are persuasively making the intellectual case against alarmism. I wonder if more is needed – something to be emotionally for and not just against, without resorting to emotivism or to reassuring fantasies. I keep thinking there has to be an emotionally appealing but also responsible alternative to the radicalized, distorted form of the precautionary principle that prevails on climate change (and other things) in so much of the Democratic Party establishment. Jonathan Haidt has spoken of this distorted precaution as “safetyism.” Greg Lukianoff has called it “reverse cognitive behavioral therapy.” It offers the illusion of control and reassurance, the face of what seems a great darkness.

A persuasive alternative on climate would have to satisfy not just intellectual concerns but existential ones. Here is where I suspect “the vital center” is a useful principle for thinking about politics and policy but less so about their spiritual dimension. Even though climate alarmism is misleading, it’s still true that existential angst, or dread, is real for all human beings. And politically potent. In the face of it, advice to reject the extremes and just muddle through with tolerant, Isaiah Berlinian pluralism isn’t especially reassuring. And I'm not sure ecomodernism will have broad enough appeal.

But I have already taken up too much space and so I will shut up! Thanks very much for the writing you all do, it is much appreciated.

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