George Shultz is a Republican with a PhD in economics form MIT and a long record of public service. Jeffrey Simpson writes:
Mr. Shultz will turn 94 next month, but his interest in public issues persists. His latest interest is climate change. He’s bought an electric car, placed solar panels on his house and has been telling those in his party and beyond: “The climate is changing. If you don’t like the science, use your eyes.”
What to do? Mr. Shultz favours two approaches. First, increased government funding on clean technology research. Second, a revenue-neutral carbon tax, of the kind British Columbia implemented in 2008.
Imagine that from a pillar of Republicanism – a plea for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Most Republican politicians run from the issue of climate change, their latest dodge being that they are not scientists and therefore cannot have an opinion on the science.
Shultz is a conseservative. But he was never a neo-conservative -- which is a round about way of saying that he accepts the validity of science. And the science is getting more and more ominous:
Last week’s fifth report of the International Panel on Climate Change . . . reported with more urgency and certainty than ever that the Earth is warming due to man-made emissions, principally from the burning of fossil fuels. The consequences for humanity will be grave, said the IPCC.
In that assessment, the panel agrees with Mr. Shultz, who has said that his two preferred policy choices – research and a carbon tax – will be far less costly than the long-term expense of dealing with climate change.
There are some conservatives who can actually think their way through a problem. But they are an endangered species.