The Washington Post‘s Juliet Eilperin writes a piece on Sarah Palin’s climate skepticism that seems, like so many articles in this genre, to dance around something obvious.
In the piece, upon finding out that Palin doesn’t believe in anthropogenic climate change, one Alaska enviro is quoted saying "now I know why" Palin fought emission reductions.
That activist is pretending, and us readers are supposed to pretend, that ah ha, the reason Palin has blocked all efforts to list polar bears as endangered, restrain fossil fuel development, or lower emissions is that she has a good-faith disagreement about the causes of climate change. That explains it!
Here’s an alternative explanation: Palin did that stuff because she’s a Republican governor of Alaska.
Seriously. Does any sentient human being on the planet believe that Palin’s decisions in Alaska were driven by her idiosyncratic understanding of climate change? She analyzed the science, came to a different conclusion, and governed accordingly? Really?
As an Alaskan leader, she’s under immense pressure to bring Alaskans their petro-pork. And as a Republican, she’s under immense pressure from her party to oppose government constraints on corporate activity. Perhaps these facts explain the climate skepticism rather than the other way around?
One a related note: McCain intends to appoint Palin to oversee energy in his administration. You hear people say, uh oh, he’s appointing a climate skeptic! Given her skepticism, maybe she won’t do all the great stuff he wants to do!
Again, though, let’s not be naïve. Palin’s thoughts on climate change have exactly nothing to do with why McCain will appoint her or how she’ll operate in a McCain administration. She’ll do what McCain wants — McCain will appoint Palin, if he does, because she’ll govern along conventional Republican lines, not despite it.
Honestly, what politicians say they believe about the science of climate means very little in the grand scheme of things. Collectively, the political class feels obliged to address the energy/environment area. So the discussion is about policy, and in that discussion what matters is political power, and to a lesser degree principles and ideology — not science.