The key will be private and public innovation of non-carbon energy, and possibly carbon capture technology. Frankly, however painful it is for many, the high price of gas is perhaps the best anti-global warming non-policy there is.
Now, why is it that the high price of gas is the best anti-global warming non-policy there is? The reason, of course, is that the higher prices are producing a demand response away from petroleum. Just as, you might note, a carbon price would. One might even go on to add that this demand shift is providing an incentive for private and public innovations and investments in non-petroleum (or reduced-petroleum) technologies. Zounds!
But of course, this price response is limited to the one fossil fuel, the price for which has doubled in a year’s time. Unfortunately, there are others out there. But what if we could somehow make those expensive, too, with (say) a carbon price? And if we did price all of those different things, we wouldn’t have to worry about whether one demand shift might have unforeseen consequences leading to an increase in emissions, or whether our carefully picked government research investments had covered all the most promising technology bases. Best of all, if we did the system well, we’d have additional revenue, which instead of going to the sovereign wealth funds of Gulf nations could be used in part to defray consumer costs or fund private and public innovation in non-carbon energy.
But of course, it will be politically difficult to pass such a bill. It would be a hell of a lot easier, however, if the better conservative journalists out there didn’t sign on to some harebrained idea that the best response to warming, politically, economically, and morally speaking, is for us to sit back, wait for (surely inevitable!) economic growth to work its magic, and play at industrial policy while ice melts, storms intensify, floods worsen, cropland dries out, etc., etc., etc …