When George Bush went into Iraq to ferret out weapons of mass destruction, the New York Times had his back.
Almost 10 years later to the day, its Editorial Board has decided that, “in good conscience,” Barack Obama should launch his campaign—this one against global climate change—on the icy black marshlands of that fledgling democracy to the north.
The Times pegs its advice on Obama’s recognition—in his last two long speeches—that climate change is a “pressing danger.” He said he’d do something as President, and unilaterally stopping the Keystone XL oil pipeline would certainly be something. It's nice for the forests and streams in one region of northern Alberta and, as a bonus, it gives a few more years for Canadian democracy to re-decide how and whether Western Canada should exploit its oil sands reserves.
(Canadians usually say “oil” sands. Critics prefer “tar” sands. Apparently, “tar” is more provocative.)
It will all be for the good, Mr. President: if we slow down those money-crazed Canadians, they might just decide to opt out of the fossil fuel boom that’s got everyone so excited down here. Hey, Canada might go back to demonstrating to us—especially fellow Democrats in Congress—how to be international moral leaders again.
The world would be dimmer without the New York Times. However, the permission of its editorial board to do something stupid won’t protect a President in the history books. Imperial swagger won’t look presidential because Manhattan decides its fashionable. Ask George Bush, please.
We should reach for our wallets when opinion makers preface their recommendations with the expression “mainstream scientists are virtually unanimous.” Climate science doesn’t single out one source of CO2 emissions—on the horizon or over the last hundred years—as the culprit or salvation.
Mainstream economics—a profession that also deals in numerical probabilities, as well as human behavior—wouldn’t sign off on a plan to fight a global production and a consumption problem by singling out one producer.
Economics and American diplomatic interests scream out for a rationale for stopping Keystone XL. Other than using up half his second honeymoon teasing American environmental lobbyists, why single out Canada’s fossil fuels? Americans buy oil and electricity from dirtier suppliers, domestic and foreign. Furthermore, oil tax and royalty revenues in Canada are not spent to subsidize excessive fuel consumption, as they are by shaky autocrats in Venezuela, Africa, and throughout the Middle East.
The Times would better serve its conscience—and the climate—by actually analyzing Obama’s recent assertions on climate change.
In effect, by saying he’d act if Congress won’t, Obama graciously freed Congress to not do what must be done—legislate a tax on carbon.
Apparently, The Time’s editorial board would only have puffed up his State of the Union Address by declaring to America: “A burden must be shouldered and, for now, that burden should be shouldered by Canadians.”