JONAH GOLDBERG RESPONDS. But not very convincingly. Here's the nut of it:

I think Ezra is desperate to misconstrue my point so that he can wag his finger and whine about mean and dishonest conservatives. My point was simple. The American economy depends on fossil fuels and the world depends on the Amerrican [sic] economy.

Jonah appears to cede the point that precisely none of his examples are related to the consumption of fossil fuels, and thus his markers of American economic leadership would survive a drastic increase in CAFE standards. Even so, this doesn't much help him. He'd now have to prove that the health of the American economy relies on our refusal to, say, deploy a serious carbon tax, or vastly raise CAFE standards, or embark on a serious conservation effort. He doesn't prove any of those things because he can't. As economists believe a serious anti-emissions effort would cost us about two tenths of a percentile of GDP growth over the next couple of decades, his point remains a dishonest attempt to conflate our economic success with our use of fossil fuels. In fact, it's not even clear how that's supposed to work -- is China, with their massive coal reserves, an underdeveloped nation because they lacked sufficient fossil fuels? Venezuela with their oil?

Indeed, Jonah undercuts his own argument when he wonders if I'd be willing to switch our high-tech sector from coal-generated electricity to nuclear. I sure would, and by admitting that there are non fossil-fuel related ways to power our economy, he demolishes the point of his original post -- that our economic leadership relies on fossil fuels. Many thanks, Jonah.

--Ezra Klein