His latest column, fanning the flames of climate change denialists, nonetheless marks out a position different from them:
I'm a global warming agnostic who believes instinctively that it can't be very good to pump lots of CO2into the atmosphere but is equally convinced that those who presume to know exactly where that leads are talking through their hats.
Given the extreme difficulties of projecting climate into the distant future, Krauthammer's skepticism is indeed worth something. (I share Jim Manzi's view of the recent email kerfuffle.) And in the recent past, Krauthammer has advocated something the Dish strongly supports: a clear and simple gas tax offset by a payroll tax cut for economic, climate and national security reasons. His excellent piece on the subject can be read here. It concludes in advocating for a gas tax of around $1.25 or more to keep gas prices around $3. At the time of his essay, gas was at a rare low of around $1.65. Now it's back up to around $2.65. But surely a gas tax remains a good idea, even if it is less than might have been achievable last December. We could start with a 50 cent hike and add 50 cents a year. That and that alone wil prompt Americans to adjust their habits. Less than a year ago, Krauthammer argued that a big gas tax hike was
a once in a generation opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.
And yet, for some reason, the gas tax idea is missing from his current column. Why?
Here are his current proposals:
First, more research -- untainted and reliable -- to determine (a) whether the carbon footprint of man is or is not lost among the massive natural forces (from sunspot activity to ocean currents) that affect climate, and (b) if the human effect is indeed significant, whether the planetary climate system has the homeostatic mechanisms (like the feedback loops in the human body, for example) with which to compensate.
Second, reduce our carbon footprint in the interim by doing the doable, rather than the economically ruinous and socially destructive. The most obvious step is a major move to nuclear power, which to the atmosphere is the cleanest of the clean.
I know of no one opposing more research on either side of the debate, although the overwhelming conclusion of almost all the research is that man-made CO2 is indeed heating the planet dramatically and in a manner in which feedback loops, far from "compensating", actually intensify the effects of warming beyond even the direst projections. Nuclear power is indeed one part of the solution. But leaving no mechanism, even a low and slowly rising carbon tax, to combat CO2 strikes me as a shift from last December. Again one asks: why?
In the end, the conservative intelligentsia is much more invested in obstructing and thereby neutering Obama and the Democrats than in solving any actual problems in front of us. It's a game for them, and they play it with impunity.