COOL TO GLOBAL...

COOL TO GLOBAL WARMING. I'm fairly puzzled by the emerging conservative line on global warming. Realizing they've lost the debate on whether it will happen, they've begun turning to the difficulties of stopping it. Pushing that line today is Ross Douthat, who's frustrated by Al Gore's insistence on energizing the issue and adamant that "the kind of economic reforms necessary to do anything significant about the accumulation of carbon dioxide would be immediately and decisively disastrous."

Well, maybe so. They certainly wouldn't do much good for our economy or developing economies. But if there's a sick patient on your table and you decide surgery might kill 'em, that doesn't erase the fact that there's a sick patient on your table. If Douthat and others think that massive reductions in CO2 emissions -- reductions I judge fairly impossible -- are a bridge too far, where's the counterplan? After all, he's very concerned about the economic prospects of the poor under Gore's plan, but how does he think things will go when Calcutta floods over? When hurricanes get worse? When sea levels rise and all manner of coastal, urban megacenters become either uninhabitable or profoundly vulnerable to natural disaster, the problems of the poor will become existential, not economic. Gore, for his part, is fighting to raise awareness, demanding that the world begins preparing. Douthat may disagree with his solutions, but it's long past time to stop ignoring his issue.

--Ezra Klein

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