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Magic Frank through rose-colored glasses

by: Eric B.

Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 11:23:47 AM EST

James David Dickson has been a welcome addition to the Detroit News' stable of opinion writers. Here, for instance, he takes to task Peter Lund's idea to rig the electoral college in favor of Republicans, even if he throws in some stuff about Glenn Anderson's idea of preventing another Lame Duck massacre (he says the ideas are worthy, but doesn't anticipate that they're non-starters since the same people who were guilty in December still run everything, which makes it a false equivalence, but whatever). Today, however, he gives Magic Frank far too much credit on climate change.

Beckmann is more worried, in my opinion, about preventing the man-made and government-proffered solutions to climate change than in whether climate change is a man-made phenomenon. Beckmann is a skeptic on most attempts to give the government a bigger role in our lives.

And I think that’s the real debate we’re having here: Even if climate change is real, and even if man caused it, do you want higher energy bills to pay for the solution? Do you want energy companies writing energy policy (to the extent they don’t already)? Do we have any reason to believe that government-proposed and mandated solutions will actually fix the problem? Or will they just enrich a few companies and cost the rest of us money better spent buying homes, paying back student loans and paying already-too-high utility bills?

First off, Beckmann isn't arguing whether the cost of taking action is worth what we get out of it. For years, he's argued that climate change is phony baloney. In fact, he earned the nickname Magic Frank because he once wrote that there was no way something comprised of one atom of carbon and two atoms of oxygen could be harmful (again, as has been pointed out, if he thinks this is the case, he's welcome to try huffing a gas made of one atom of each). He's denounced climatologists as frauds and recently wrote that because it's cold during the winter that it's not real. This is his track record.

Later on, he asks who is more believable in the debate on whether climate change is real, Magic Frank or two scientists. It shouldn't be an issue, especially since it appears that Magic Frank doesn't know any of the relevant science. The question is why the Detroit News thinks it's a good idea to give someone who is so clearly a quack a forum to underinform their readers.

As to the underlying question of whether fighting climate change is affordable, the answer here lies in the question of whether it is real. What does climate change mean? What are the outcomes most likely in a world where climate patterns have been artificially skewed. What does this mean in the short term and the long? How might this interrelate with how we turn natural resources into things like nourishment, where we can build, or whether we can trust the water cycle to not force us into ever more complicated schemes to stay properly hydrated? And, of course, if it's a global problem, how it might affect our relations with other nations?

So far, this debate has occurred only in a myopic framework. Are we willing to pay higher utility bills (our current utility bills, by the way, are heavily externalized) because of what climate change might mean for us as individuals. In a state like Michigan, with lots of water, a seeming abundance of food, and relative safety from extreme weather events, the question pretty well answers itself. That's not the way it works, however. Ultimately, there is a bill for doing nothing. The question is not whether you want to pay for a solution, but whether inaction, which is what we're currently mostly doing, is more costly than taking action.

Eric B. :: Magic Frank through rose-colored glasses
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The verdict is in
and it ain't pretty.

Excerpt: "By 2100, if climate change continues on its present course, the country can expect to see 25 days a year with temperatures above 100F."

Droughts will increase, snow packs will decrease, and extreme weather events will be common. Doing nothing would be disasterous!

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