On the right, both climate change and questions about global limits on oil production have exited the realm of empirical debate and become full-blown fronts in the culture wars. You're required to mock them regardless of whether it makes any sense. And it's weird as hell. I mean, why would you disparage development of renewable energy? If humans are the ultimate creators, why not create innovative new sources of renewable energy instead of digging up every last fluid ounce of oil on the planet?
I am sure it is perfectly true that there are Conservatives who knee-jerk oppose every government renewable energy and recycling and green jobs idea that comes along without reference to the science. But you know what, there are plenty of Liberals who knee-jerk support all these same things, again without any understanding of the underlying science. Mr. Drum, for example, only recently came around to opposing corn ethanol, despite the fact that the weight of the science was against ethanol being any kind of environmental positive years and years ago. In fact, not until it was no longer cool and caring to support ethanol (a moment I would set at when Rolling Stone wrote a fabulous ethanol expose) did Drum finally turn against it. Is this science, or social signalling? How many folks still run around touting electric cars without understanding what the marginal fuels are in the electricity grid, or without understanding the true well-to-wheels efficiency? How many folks still run around touting wind power without understanding the huge percentage of this power that must be backed up with hot backup power fueled by fossil fuels?
Why is his almost blind support of renewable energy without any reference to science or the specifics of the technologies involved any saner than blind opposition? If anything, blind opposition at least has the numbers on their side, given past performance of investments in all sorts of wonder-solutions to future energy production.
The reason there is a disconnect is because statists like Drum equate supporting government subsidies and interventions with supporting renewables. Few people, even Conservatives, oppose renewables per se. This is a straw man. What they oppose are subsidies and government mandates for renewables. Drum says he has almost limitless confidence in man's ability to innovate. I agree -- but I, unlike he apparently, have limitless confidence in man's ability to innovate absent government coercion. It was not a government program that replaced whale oil as an illuminant right when we were approaching peak whale, it was the genius of John D. Rockefeller. As fossil fuels get short, prices rise, and people naturally innovate on substitutes. If Drum believes that private individuals are missing an opportunity, rather than root for government coercion, he should go take up the challenge. He can be the Rockefeller of renewable energy.
Postscript: By the way, it is absurd and disingenuous to equate opposition to what have been a series of boneheaded government investments in questionable ventures and technologies with some sort of a-scientific hatred of fossil fuel alternatives. I have written for a decade that I long for the day, and expect it to be here within 20 years, that sheets of solar cells are cranked from factories like carpet out of Dalton, Georgia.