Just collosally ignorant. That was all I could think to say on viewing the latest eco-video web sensation, The Story of Cap and Trade by Annie Leonard and Co. No one does a circular firing squad like the Left and this contribution is a potential Hall of Famer.
Leonard has a disarming Every Gal schtick, but it masks a shockingly ill-informed—or maybe outright deceptive—“critique” of cap and trade. I was working myself up to rant about about it, but over at Grist Dave Roberts got there before I did. To give you a flavor of Dave’s take-down:
I hesitate to call this an “argument” in the video, since it mainly consists of using the words “Enron,” “bubble,””Wall Street,” and “scam” suggestively, without saying anything at all specific about why this commodity market—which would be one of any number of commodity markets, most of which work perfectly well, including the carbon market in Europe—would be uniquely evil.
I do have one major complaint about Dave’s post, however: he’s way too nice about it. The video’s 10 minutes is so loaded with factual inaccuracies and deceptions that it would literally take me hours to unravel them all. It’s really quite a feat.
It’s not just the trading part that she butchers. She comes close to flat out lying about offset programs (and I say this as a card-carrying offsets skeptic), fumbles on allocations, blinks on consumer fairness, and mangles a description of Europe’s experience. In fact, so childish is the video that most of the criticisms are actually directed at “these guys,” a pair of stick figures in pin-striped suits. No kidding, the critique is literally directed at a caricature.
Toward the end, she suggests a handful of policy alternatives. Of course, she doesn’t mention this, but many of these would actually be enhanced by an operational cap-and-trade system (funding renewable energy, for example). But others are almost laughably hackneyed (“concerned citizens around the world need to speak out”). It’s just bizarre.
I’m not going to waste any more time writing about it. Go read Dave’s post. But I’ll close with just one important point: carbon trading is absolutely unrelated to the program’s environmental integrity. Get that? “Cap” and “trade” are two different words. Leonard and others don’t seem to understand this elemental fact. Even if some Wall Street bad guys made money on the program, it would still reduce emissions. The trading doesn’t affect the cap. It just doesn’t.
So if you’re worried about carbon, then cap it. If you’re worried about carbon trading, then regulate it. And if you’re worried that your knee jerk misunderstandings about climate policy are being ignored on the eve of a game-changing global agreement, go viral with an Internet video.
In the spirit of true democracy, many Grist readers are rising to Annie’s defense. Be sure and check out their well-reasoned comments at the end of Dave’s post.
Cap and trade is a hustle because of what we know about climate change drivers (fossil fuels):1) Humanity will burn or use every drop of conventional oil it can pull out of the ground2) Same with natural gas3) According to Real Climate’s Pierrehumbert and others, there’s not enough carbon generated from 1 & 2 to send us into climate chaos—it won’t necessarily be pretty, but (luckily) those fuels are much cleaner than coal.4) According to James Hansen and many others, the only thing that matters is to get off coal and non-traditional oil (shale, tar sands) ASAP. 5) Because cap and trade attempts to be agnostic about carbon sources—treating them all the same, based on emissions—it allows continued coal burning while “conserving” natural gas and oil . . . which is actually as ephemeral as “saving time.” (At the end of each day, where did the time savings go?). Same with offsets—it allows irrelevant savings (“forest preservation” scams etc.) to be used to buy credits to allow more coal emissions.As I see it, cap and trade could be useful if restricted to the coal sector, which is essentially where it came from (SOx controls)—a small set of players with easily monitored consumption, trading only within the relevant players who are engaged in the activity that must be capped and ratcheted down quickly.But that’s not what’s being proposed. Instead, we’re seeing proposals to permit all kinds of exotic ways to fudge what should be a very simple proposition: we have essentially three flavors of fossil fuels, one fairly clean (methane), one dirty but already declining and so intensely useful that we will not leave any untouched (oil), and one that must be stopped at all costs (coal). Any program that distracts from this simple reality is a problem, especially when it invites people to think that reducing use of the cleaner fossil fuels means it’s ok to burn some more of the dirtier ones.With a half-life measured in centuries, it doesn’t matter when in the next forty years the carbon from oil and natural gas is emitted; all that matters is that the total not include carbon from coal—we have more than enough coal to send climate careening off onto the roller-coaster of positive feedback loops that will spell the end of us.
Cap and Trade schemes are ineffective, counterproductive, and environmentally damaging, while carbon offsets are an out and out fraud. If we absolutely have to use cap and trade, however, there are some changes we can make to ensure we can still get some benefit from it.http://www.selfdestructivebastards.com/2009/12/cap-trade-and-offset.html
Annie is clearly a kind and decent person. But for the reasons you say, her video is a disaster.How did this happen? Watch here to see the comedy of errors….http://www.funnyordie.com/ancientviking/videos