Ozone Shultz rides again

No matter whom you like for president, I think most would agree it’s a good thing so many “outsiders” are getting a real chance to compete for the Republican nomination.  Sadly, the same can’t be said for the top tier of the conservative intellectual establishment, with its lofty sinecures of think-tanks and consultancies, forever clogged with the same tired and unimaginative scholars.  As Mrs. Thatcher said, “first win the argument, then win the vote,” but conservative politicians and activists often have little to animate their cause thanks to the lack of ideas coming from the people who supposedly exist to produce them.  No wonder Glenn Beck embraced Cleon Skousen; his wing-nut books are still better than some of the mush coming from our big-shot thinkers.

Condi Rice, whom I wrote about for AT, would be the most famous and least productive of all these “intellectuals” if not for the ubiquitous Henry Kissinger.  (Kissinger’s ineptitude more than anything else inspired Reagan to challenge Ford in 1976, yet ever since then, the man has tried to weasel his way back into the conservative halls of power.  This reached its most disastrous level in the Iraq occupation, with Kissinger protégé Paul Bremer's misbegotten tenure in Baghdad.  Anthony Codevilla has a nice takedown from the right side of Dr. K that deserves more attention.)  But maybe the worst of the bunch is George Shultz, Rice’s old mentor, place-holder extraordinaire in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations, and undistinguished researcher for decades at Hoover.

As you may have learned in the recent CNN Republican debate, Shultz is riding high once again, claiming that the outcome of the Montreal Protocols in 1987 dealing with ozone somehow provides the template for conservatives to cave in on climate change.  But other than the fact that both issues involve a lot of junk science hocus-pocus, ozone depletion and climate change are worlds apart as policy matters.  That’s because the ozone scare was small potatoes, centered on just one man-made chemical, Freon (aka CFCs), used in HVAC systems.  Three researchers, Rowland, Molina, and Crutzen, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry back then for asserting that man-made CFCs were to blame for the annual depletion in ozone measured at the South Pole, the so-called hole – and, by God, not because of the massive amount of natural chlorine and CFC produced by the Earth, nor by the extreme cold and dark of the Antarctic winter.

Taking the “better safe than sorry” approach, Freon was banned, and an expensive but adequate substitute chemical found.  Anyway, the world production of CFCs all but ended 20 years ago, while the actual South Pole ozone hole stayed pretty much the same all these years later, although some tree-huggers expect to see a decline in another 20 years, once all the old "fridges and fire extinguishers" from the 1980s disappear.  And if not, I expect Rowland & Co. to still keep their Nobel Prizes, just like Rigoberta Menchu.

In any case, old George never actually explains what the painless equivalent of replacing Freon would be for climate change.  I doubt he even has the foggiest idea of what he may be proposing.  Getting rid of Freon was relatively cheap in the bigger scheme of things; getting rid of carbon would mean the end of industrial civilization as we know it.  Our world runs almost entirely on carbon-based fuel, save for the 20% of electricity or so advanced countries like the United States get in nuclear power.  If we started today, it would take trillions of dollars we don’t have and decades of crash construction to completely replace the world’s power plant infrastructure with nuclear electricity and populate the highways with electric vehicles.

Possibly George is advising us to just go along with the Obama carbon plan, the expensive and illogical assault on our electric utility companies that will achieve an amazing 0.0001-degree-Celsius reduction per year in temperatures.  

None of this is, of course, about real scientific efforts to better care for our planet.  Climate change is just another rhetorical tool to mock what’s left of our free-enterprise system, burden ordinary taxpayers, and make some dough for the ruling class.  Even the lefties at Slate admit that Obama’s plan is really just cap and trade, the perennial scam to make filthy rich liberals like Al Gore filthier and richer.     

But as George advises us, “better safe than sorry.”  That’s the same old slogan of the lazy and ineffectual, whether bureaucrat or intellectual.  It’s the real reason why everything our government does now is so expensive, why new drug development takes years and costs billions, why promising technology sits for decades even after being proven.  In a better world, we would have an army of real experts to stand up against all the scientific fear-mongering.  That’s already hard to achieve with so many universities and their endowed chairs the captives of the left.  Reagan thought the rise of the conservative think-tanks in the 1980s might be a workaround, and to a certain extent they were.  But as time goes on, these too seem to be more about the comforts and prestige of their inhabitants than about making any contribution to public discourse.

You can really see this “idea-free” style at work in the campaign websites of the Republican candidates for president now.  A few like Rubio actually offer a few baby-step policy proposals, but most of them are just places to hawk their caps and other souvenirs.  Maybe one of these campaigns can print up a tee-shirt with pictures of George Shultz, Condi, and a bunch their colleagues saying, “I worked for decades at the highest levels of Republican government, and all I have to show for it is this lousy shirt.”

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, KY.

No matter whom you like for president, I think most would agree it’s a good thing so many “outsiders” are getting a real chance to compete for the Republican nomination.  Sadly, the same can’t be said for the top tier of the conservative intellectual establishment, with its lofty sinecures of think-tanks and consultancies, forever clogged with the same tired and unimaginative scholars.  As Mrs. Thatcher said, “first win the argument, then win the vote,” but conservative politicians and activists often have little to animate their cause thanks to the lack of ideas coming from the people who supposedly exist to produce them.  No wonder Glenn Beck embraced Cleon Skousen; his wing-nut books are still better than some of the mush coming from our big-shot thinkers.

Condi Rice, whom I wrote about for AT, would be the most famous and least productive of all these “intellectuals” if not for the ubiquitous Henry Kissinger.  (Kissinger’s ineptitude more than anything else inspired Reagan to challenge Ford in 1976, yet ever since then, the man has tried to weasel his way back into the conservative halls of power.  This reached its most disastrous level in the Iraq occupation, with Kissinger protégé Paul Bremer's misbegotten tenure in Baghdad.  Anthony Codevilla has a nice takedown from the right side of Dr. K that deserves more attention.)  But maybe the worst of the bunch is George Shultz, Rice’s old mentor, place-holder extraordinaire in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations, and undistinguished researcher for decades at Hoover.

As you may have learned in the recent CNN Republican debate, Shultz is riding high once again, claiming that the outcome of the Montreal Protocols in 1987 dealing with ozone somehow provides the template for conservatives to cave in on climate change.  But other than the fact that both issues involve a lot of junk science hocus-pocus, ozone depletion and climate change are worlds apart as policy matters.  That’s because the ozone scare was small potatoes, centered on just one man-made chemical, Freon (aka CFCs), used in HVAC systems.  Three researchers, Rowland, Molina, and Crutzen, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry back then for asserting that man-made CFCs were to blame for the annual depletion in ozone measured at the South Pole, the so-called hole – and, by God, not because of the massive amount of natural chlorine and CFC produced by the Earth, nor by the extreme cold and dark of the Antarctic winter.

Taking the “better safe than sorry” approach, Freon was banned, and an expensive but adequate substitute chemical found.  Anyway, the world production of CFCs all but ended 20 years ago, while the actual South Pole ozone hole stayed pretty much the same all these years later, although some tree-huggers expect to see a decline in another 20 years, once all the old "fridges and fire extinguishers" from the 1980s disappear.  And if not, I expect Rowland & Co. to still keep their Nobel Prizes, just like Rigoberta Menchu.

In any case, old George never actually explains what the painless equivalent of replacing Freon would be for climate change.  I doubt he even has the foggiest idea of what he may be proposing.  Getting rid of Freon was relatively cheap in the bigger scheme of things; getting rid of carbon would mean the end of industrial civilization as we know it.  Our world runs almost entirely on carbon-based fuel, save for the 20% of electricity or so advanced countries like the United States get in nuclear power.  If we started today, it would take trillions of dollars we don’t have and decades of crash construction to completely replace the world’s power plant infrastructure with nuclear electricity and populate the highways with electric vehicles.

Possibly George is advising us to just go along with the Obama carbon plan, the expensive and illogical assault on our electric utility companies that will achieve an amazing 0.0001-degree-Celsius reduction per year in temperatures.  

None of this is, of course, about real scientific efforts to better care for our planet.  Climate change is just another rhetorical tool to mock what’s left of our free-enterprise system, burden ordinary taxpayers, and make some dough for the ruling class.  Even the lefties at Slate admit that Obama’s plan is really just cap and trade, the perennial scam to make filthy rich liberals like Al Gore filthier and richer.     

But as George advises us, “better safe than sorry.”  That’s the same old slogan of the lazy and ineffectual, whether bureaucrat or intellectual.  It’s the real reason why everything our government does now is so expensive, why new drug development takes years and costs billions, why promising technology sits for decades even after being proven.  In a better world, we would have an army of real experts to stand up against all the scientific fear-mongering.  That’s already hard to achieve with so many universities and their endowed chairs the captives of the left.  Reagan thought the rise of the conservative think-tanks in the 1980s might be a workaround, and to a certain extent they were.  But as time goes on, these too seem to be more about the comforts and prestige of their inhabitants than about making any contribution to public discourse.

You can really see this “idea-free” style at work in the campaign websites of the Republican candidates for president now.  A few like Rubio actually offer a few baby-step policy proposals, but most of them are just places to hawk their caps and other souvenirs.  Maybe one of these campaigns can print up a tee-shirt with pictures of George Shultz, Condi, and a bunch their colleagues saying, “I worked for decades at the highest levels of Republican government, and all I have to show for it is this lousy shirt.”

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, KY.