“Iron Law” of Climate Politics Proves Surprisingly Plastic and Devoid of Content
I wasn’t impressed with my first contact with Roger Pielke, Jr’s concept of climate politics running up against some kind of “iron law,” but on the second go ’round things get even worse:
Professor ROGER PIELKE Jr. (Environmental Studies, the University of Colorado): Yeah, I think the iron law of climate policy simply says that while people are willing to bear some cost for environmental objectives, that willingness has its limits. And cap and trade ran up against those limits time and again, and it’s not surprising that it failed.
At this point, the “iron law” seems to have been defined down into triviality. It’s obviously the case that for all potential issues there’s a limit to the cost people are willing to pay to deal with them. The question, obviously, is what that cost is.
Meanwhile, do note that a majority of members of the United States House of Representatives were willing to vote for a cap and trade bill. And the President of the United States was prepared to sign one. So it’s not like the whole idea was some kind of wild non-starter. What it couldn’t get was 60 votes in the United States Senate. But lots of things can’t get 60 votes in the Senate. 70 percent of voters want to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and that can’t get 60 votes in the Senate.
My “iron law” of American politics goes like this: If there’s something 41 Senators genuinely don’t want to do, then it won’t happen!