Sarah Palin on AGW, Alaska, and domestic energy

Conservatives for Science: Sarah Palin on AGW, Alaska, and domestic energy

Several media outlets and blogs have taken note of Gov. Sarah Palin’s recent remarks on oil and natural gas development in Alaska. Palin made those remarks at a hearing held in the state by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

It is her discussion about global warming and the effects being felt in Alaska that have drawn the most attention. While Palin could not seem to definitively decide if global warming was man-made (or at least man-influenced) during the presidential campaign, she now appears to unambiguously embrace anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

This clarification did not go unnoticed by even her more vociferous critics.

Island of Doubt: Sarah Palin: global warming convert?

You may recall Sarah Palin’s curious approach to the science of climate change. Although while running for vice-president of the United States she insisted humans were not responsible, she nevertheless advocated doing something about it. This week Alaska’s governor offered some details of just what we should do.

Hrynyshyn excerpts from Palin’s remarks focusing primarily on these two paragraphs:

Some would have you delay exploration and development in the federal offshore of Alaska over concerns related to global warming and its effects in the Arctic. First of all let me make it clear that the State of Alaska understands the effects of climate change in the cryosphere. We Alaskans are living with the changes that you are observing in Washington. The dramatic decreases in the extent of summer sea ice, increased coastal erosion, melting of permafrost, decrease in alpine glaciers and overall ecosystem changes are very real to us.

Many believe that in order to mitigate these long term and systematic changes it will require a national and global effort to decrease the release of human produced greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. However, simply waiting for low carbon emitting renewable capacity to be large enough will mean that it will be too late to meet the mitigation goals for reducing CO2 that will be required under most credible climate change models, including the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) modeled scenarios. Meeting these goals will require a dramatic increase, in the very near term, to preferred available fuels – including natural gas – that have a very low carbon footprint and that can be used within the existing energy infrastructure. These available fuels are required to supply the nation’s energy needs during the transition to green energy alternatives.

Hrynyshyn questions other parts of Palin’s remarks as well as her general premise. However he still concludes:

…this speech represents progress toward that elusive goal of coherence, and I think it safe to assume she’s not likely to get raked over the coals (so to speak) in the manner we grew accustomed to seeing during last year’s campaign.

Leaving aside Hrynyshyn’s somewhat patronizing tone, Palin’s entire remarks are really worth the read.

The Governor’s proposition is straight-forward. Renewable, low carbon emitting energy on an industrial scale will not be ready soon enough to make the immediate dent in CO2 emissions that climate experts say we need. She suggests alternative options like using more natural gas, that emits about half the CO2 of coal, as a bridge to that green energy future.

Experts can debate the particulars of her recommendations or similar propositions like the Pickens Plan. For conservatives though, Gov. Palin’s remarks demonstrate that we can acknowledge AGW while simultaneously making serious proposals that increase our country’s domestic energy production.

This approach will also help conservatives contrast themselves with President Obama, who while claiming that CO2 reduction is a national priority, has already managed to undermine nuclear energy production — the energy source providing 20% of our country’s power and 70% of our CO2 free energy.