Winslow Watch: Global Warming Edition

(Winslow holds forth in the comments. He calls cap-and-trade a federal issue. It's not -- we have the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in New England, which is a cap-and-trade program, and a good one. - promoted by Charley on the MTA)

Dan Winslow, former Legal Counsel to Gov. Romney and newly-elected Republican State Representative, was sworn into office earlier this month.  He continued demonstrating, this time to his Facebook fans, that he is the smartest sixth-grader ever, especially in his new class, the House of Representatives.    

During last week’s snowstorm he poked fun at his legislative colleagues by tweeting the threadbare joke that any winter storm disproves the theory of global warming:

I’m not making this up: just received word from the House Committee on Global Warming that Wednesday’s meeting postponed due to snow storm.

What a riot he is. When the former occupant of his House seat, now-Senator and fellow Republican Richard Ross tweeted back, hinting that Winslow might want to make it clear that he was only joking, he grudgingly complied — “A joke gents.”  But then he quickly rejoined the global warming sceptics by reciting their faux-modest epistemological confession:  

Although I do not have enough information to know whether the reported warming is a result of natural causes, manmade causes, or both.

Somebody who hadn’t served as Mitt Romney’s acolyte might not have been so keen on scoring points against his colleagues so early and in such a hackneyed way.  

And somebody who didn’t have enough information about the causes of global warming probably wouldn’t have sought and received the endorsement of the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters, either. Unless of course he had served as Mitt Romney’s acolyte.  

PS – If you’re interested in an explantion of why extreme winter weather is consistent with the theory of global warming, the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters has posted one.  

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27 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. At least today was Chemtrail Free!

    How about the Tampa Airport! Are red-winged blackbirds an engangered species?

  2. Crossing paths with Doug Rubin

    While I was busy criticizing Dan Winslow, I didn't know that Doug Rubin was promoting him in today's Herald as the kind of Republican that Massachusetts needs more of.  This promotion was based in part on Rubin's opinion that "Winslow has engaged progressive constituencies including Blue Mass Group."

    OK, a confession: I once wondered, based on Winslow's courting in BMG of advocates for gay marriage and environmentalists, whether he might portend the second coming of the Rockefeller Republican.

    However, on balance, the BMG reviews, including mine, have panned him.  And I was so wrong about the environmental issues.  

  3. No Room in Politics for Humor Hester?

    Please judge me by my votes and proposals. Or at least wait until the first formal session of the House to write me off. I sought and received the MLEV endorsement because I support pro-environment positions.  As I told MLEV at the time, I prefer market-based solutions to encourage environmentally responsible behavior. I also want to assure that any dollar of added cost is offset by like reductions in costs to consumers elsewhere to avoid burdening the economy. I consider myself socially tolerant and fiscally prudent, which squarely lands me in no man's land in MA politics and smack in the middle of the majority of voters. I will continue to post ideas for discussion on BMG--we may not often agree, but I certainly benefit from the thoughtful commentary posted on this site.  

    dan-winslow   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • Thanks Dan. I'm wondering...

      about this:

      I prefer market-based solutions to encourage environmentally responsible behavior.

      That brings up the subject of cap-and-trade with respect to carbon emissions, which as I'm sure you know is a market-based idea originally championed by conservatives as a way of avoiding top-down regulation while also achieving environmental goals.  It has already achieved remarkable success in areas like sulfur dioxide emissions.  I know that this is largely a federal issue, but if Republican officeholders at any level express support for it, that will eventually affect the overall position of the party.  What is your view?

      • Market Forces Shape Behaviors Better Than Regulation


        You are correct that cap and trade is a tad above my pay grade as a State Representative, since it's really a federal issue and it's viewed by my side of the aisle in DC as a tax increase and job killer.  But as a general proposition, I prefer relying on market forces over regulation as a means of encouraging responsible behaviors.  I believe the judicial system (if it runs well with prompt and affordable justice) can play a major role as a market force btw.  And true, while it certainly stunk up the blog commentary, we really, truly do need seriously to consider entitlement reform in Massachusetts (at least aimed at reducing fraud which cheats the truly needy out of services and drives up costs to taxpayers), so I'm taking another run at that topic soon.  

        dan-winslow   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • Mmmmm, yeah....

          I know what "your side of the aisle in DC" thinks about it.  I think they're wrong (particularly because, as I already mentioned, cap and trade was developed by conservatives).  I'm interested in what you think.  Also, as JohnT points out below, cap and trade is also to some extent a MA issue in light of RGGI.

          So, I'm afraid we can't let you off that easily.  :-)

          • If I Try to Punt, Will You Move the Ball?

            I realize that Charlie Brown metaphor doesn't quite work, but I never expect to be let off easily.  My immediate focus has been jobs, economy, cutting wasteful spending and tax burden, and preserving core local services.  Let me learn more about the particulars on cap and trade and I'll gladly (publicly) share my views.  At the moment, notwithstanding my DC side of the aisle, I'm agnostic on the subject.  My philosophical parameters are noted above.

            dan-winslow   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
            • If your focus is on jobs and the economy...

     should be supporting cap and trade regimes like the RGGI.  It's creating jobs, including my own - here's a great place for you to start your research:


              I'll follow up next week with an email to your office to see how your research is coming along - and I hope you'll tweet about it when you finally (publicly) share your views.

            • OK, sounds good to me.

              Looking forward to hearing more!

        • Markets and $quot;rational$quot; players

          Three factors complicate the question of "market forces" as they relate to climate change:

          1. The existence of "local optima" that reward participants and that lead to disaster when applied in the large. Climate change mitigation is expensive and is only effective when (almost) everybody does it. A rational company looks at the returns, and quite rationally argues "If everybody else does it, our investment only helps a little. If nobody else does it, our investment won't help at all. We should avoid this investment." While this appears to work for each player, it leads the overall market to the worst possible outcome.

          2. Externalized forces. Many of the forces that drive the market are viewed as external. For example, food wars, water wars, and enormous refugee movements (about three billion people, almost all of them destitute, will be displaced by failure of water supplies fed by Himalayan glaciers). A substantial portion of our existing federal spending already goes towards "stabilizing" various regions of the world — that spending is not currently reflected in the world energy market.

          3. Long lead times. The market is TERRIBLE at committing resources towards efforts whose return is measured in decades or centuries. The science is already clear. We need to act now to avoid literal calamity that will occur in decades or centuries. The "market", as we describe it today, is arguably not more than a century or two old. We have no basis on which to believe that it can effectively invest today to avoid astronomical costs a century from now — and yet, that is precisely what we must do.

          I am disappointed that you attempt to bring up "entitlement reform" in a thread about global climate change. Our grandchildren are likely to face sea-level increases that will flood virtually ALL of the Back Bay and significant portions of Cambridge and downtown. The Big Dig will be underwater. All of our transit systems will be underwater. Storrow Drive and Memorial Drive will be underwater. In that grim world, how do you think our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will view their ancestors who worried about "entitlement reform", "taxes", and "jobs" while simultaneously explicitly denying published and rock-solid science predicting the catastrophe and outlining mitigation strategies?

          In my view, this is an issue where all sides should be coming together to demand that all of us — including the feds — forcefully confront this clear threat to humanity itself.

      • Cap and Trade is not reality based...

        Because we don't currently have the technology to actually stop global warming.  Listen to this (long):

        • We could significantly slow down the trend.

          I don't think anybody is suggesting cap and trade would reverse or stop global warming dead in it's tracks, though ultimately that has to be the goal.

          • Cap and Trade certainly could reverse global warming

            but we're not ready to be there -- nor should we.  For cap and trade to be that effective, the changes in our lifestyle would be far too abrupt.

            It doesn't require technology to stop global warming.  Simply stopping the burning of fossil fuels would stop climate change in it's tracks*.  But, we as citizens aren't willing to do that.  We like electricity and transportation and heating our homes and whatnot.

            Technology may be required to maintain our current lifestyle and bend the climate change curve.  Even that isn't clear though -- public policy might be able to bend that curve substantially even without new tech.  The combination of cap and trade with changes in zoning, transportation, subsidy/fee in taxes and otherwise, regulations in efficiency, and so forth might well be sufficient to bend the curve.

            * loosely speaking, and impossible to know for sure

            • Aren't you forgetting one factor.

              Yes, I like my transportation, electricity, etc. as much as the next person, and don't apologize for that.  However, I also have faith that we can move away from fossil fuels and power those very things with renewables such as wind and solar without the average person who only cares about the results noticing much difference.  In other words, as long as I can still walk into a room and flip a switch to turn on a light, I really don't care what's powering the light.

              • If you have an hour to kill, listen to the lecture I linked to...

                the speaker breaks down the technical difficulties really well.    

    • Dear Dan -

      There's plenty of room for humor at BMG, and I for one want to thank you for helping to "grow it" (as you folks in entrepreneurial circles like to say).

      Actually, as I said earlier, my first reaction to your joke was - well, that's kind of worn out, but you certainly wouldn't be the first politician making a stale attempt at humor.  What caught my eye was Senator Ross, who was making repeated efforts to convey the "throat slash" sign to you.  Maybe it's his sense of humor you should be asking about.  

      Of course he has a little more political experience than you do, so he may have concluded that you were getting in pretty deep when your global warming joke got a thumbs up from Christen Varley.  Now there's somebody whose sense of humor you really have to wonder about. Scott Brown votes for financial reform and all of a sudden the Tea Party is all over for him and she's talking about multiple challengers in the primary.  It ain't easy.

      It takes a lot more than one politically dubious tweet to get written off.  Best wishes, and I look forward to your proposals (with the exception of the LAF test one, which kind of stunk up the joint here).


      • Christen Varley is reality based

        She acknowledges that there will BE primary challangers (unless Earl Sholley has gone back to sleep?) but that they will lose and she still supports Brown.

        Rep. Winslow - no, there isn't much humor on BMG unless it involves Cheney shooting a dear friend while hunting, or Bristol Palin's thighs, or John Boehner crying.  As we all know, that's not mean-spirited or hateful, THAT'S entertainment.

        • PP, you forgot one huge source of humor on this board...

          ...and that's your own commenting history!

          I never laughed so hard at a feeble attempt to make excuses for a politician a I did on that thread - most notably, you never successfully defended any of the rebuttals I and others laid out that day.  You may think you did because you did at least reply, but your replies were even more lame than your original comment.  You (and the other hypocrites on the right) are a constant source of amusement around here!

          As to the original intent of this post, global climate change is no laughing matter and snowstorms don't disprove it, so Winslow's "joke" tweet was DOA at best.  Free advice to Mr. Winslow - leave humor to the professionals, and try to do some good with the office you've been entrusted with by the voters.  You owe all of us that much.

          • Duly Noted John T.

            Thanks for your advice (less the gratuitous whack at my compatriot Peter).  Although I'm not sure the audience at the Golden Globes would agree that humor is best left to the professionals....

            dan-winslow   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
            • Thanks for the reply, Rep. Winslow!

              In your reply to David above, you noted that cap and trade is viewed in DC by those on your side of the aisle as a tax increase and a job killer.  Since we live under a cap and trade regime right here in Massachusetts with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, I'd be interested to hear your take on whether or not you think your compatriots in DC are correct in their views.

              A federal cap and trade system will likely never be created with the gridlock in DC, but that's actually a moot point with the success shown by the RGGI.  It's my understanding that several western states are planning to follow suit with their own voluntary cap and trade association, and once they make their move, the midwestern states will do the same. Many states are looking at what we've done here as a model - once again, Massachusetts leads the nation forward!

        • Then, if not for the humor, you must come here

          for the insightful analysis and the insistence on the highest standards of political discourse.

        • $quot;no, there isn't much humor on BMG$quot;

          Classic.  BMG, the only political blog that brings a weekly dose of political laughs, in the form of the Weekly Joke Revue.  Oh, but some of those jokes are at Republicans' expense.  So they don't count as "humor."

          Try again, PP.

          Oh, also, John Boehner crying is, indeed, hilarious.  :D

        • Don't forget

          the Hindenburg, or poor old Shamus.

    • A question:

      An entirely serious, if at first apparently tangential, question:

      I prefer market-based solutions to encourage environmentally responsible behavior.

      Do you support nuclear power?  If not, why not? If so, what do propose to do with the nuclear waste?  

  4. In all seriousness

    My basic understanding of the consequences of global warming is that, among other effects, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water. It also evaporates standing water faster. This means a lot of areas will have droughts, as the water evaporates faster.

    But more water vapor in the air means more will fall when it does precipitate. And usually this precipitation will be rain, but in colder climes in the winter it will be snow.

    Thus, to me, a winter storm does not disprove global warming... and indeed, a steady string of them that result in eight-foot snowbanks at the foot of my driveway (taller than they've ever been) actually, to me, suggests that indeed something's happening here, though what it is ain't exactly clear... yet.

    It's not about single events; it's about statistics. Time will tell. And I hope, once it's told, that it's not too late.

  5. Thanks Rep. Winslow

    Thank you for your comments and responses.

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