RPJr.’s latest achievement in getting huge news coverage for saying very little
I don’t want to get too far into the kerfuffle over the Nature commentary from Pielke Jr. et al. Just a few quick and I guess fairly cynical thoughts:
• The trend toward "spontaneous" technology development and efficiency has been going on for centuries, only to pause during the last few years thanks to a burst of new dirty coal plants in the developing world. The whole commentary is premised on the idea that this is the new norm — that "spontaneous" movement toward carbon efficiency is now a thing of the past. That strikes me as wildly speculative at best, at worst … silly. Nonetheless, that highly contentious premise has been lost in the press coverage, which has spun it as, "global warming way harder to solve than you thought!"
• I argued here that RPJr. gets press attention for seeming to say something more controversial than he’s actually saying. For instance, L.A. Times featured him as someone who says we should adapt to global warming instead of attempting to mitigate it. Of course, he’s not actually saying that — he’s saying we should do both, like everyone else.
This strikes me as another example of the same thing: if RPJr. et. al are saying we should fund long-term technology development instead of aggressively deploying existing tech in the short-term, well, that’s controversial (and dumb). But if he’s saying we should do both, well, again, that’s what everyone says. Who disagrees with that? How is that press-worthy?
• RPJr. really does seem a perfect fit for the Breakthrough Institute. Those guys are masters of getting boatloads of attention from the press by seeming to say something interesting and controversial that, upon closer inspection, isn’t actually that controversial or interesting at all. It’s like an institutional specialty. To wit: On their website they are characterizing this commentary as a "bombshell," since it "shattered the notion that we already have all the technology we need to deal with climate change," a notion that, um, nobody actually believed. Such a bombshell!