'Treason against the planet'

"I know light bulbs might not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise," President Obama said of his latest energy-saving initiative. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Just had a chance to catch some of Rush Limbaugh on the car radio -- El Rushbo was kind of all over the map but among the things that he was attacking President Obama for, the one that really stood out was that the president had the nerve to endorse low-energy lightbulbs today. He played a soundbite from this:

President Obama on Monday announced new federal efforts to promote energy efficiency in the United States, through stricter standards on fluorescent and incandescent light and other measures.

"I know light bulbs might not seem sexy," Mr. Obama said, "but this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses."

Paraphrasing, Rush was like: "Folk, this is Jimmy Carter all over again -- with the cardigan sweaters and lowering the thermostat to 68 degrees in the White House....There is no shortage of energy."

This is what talk radio has to fall back on -- the glory days of Reagan beating Carter and thus proving to the world that any kind of sacrifice is for wimps and the only energy problem is that we're not drilling hard enough. The only thing Limbaugh's stirring rhetoric lacked was any facts.

For one thing, the world's long-term oil picture has not improved:

"The biggest oil fields are past peak production. Truth is these fields are declining in reserves by some 6% to 7% a year. We have to find 3 million to 4 million more barrels a year just to offset this decline in the oil that exists," he says. Exxon Mobil, for example, has proven reserves 21% less than what was reported in 2007.

That's not even addressing the greenhouse gas benefits of reduced energy consumption. Truth be told, Jimmy Carter was dead right:

To contrast the two speeches is like comparing the screeching of a cat to the miracles of Mozart. Yet today, Carter's speech reads as prescient. Most of his dire predictions -- "It is a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it is likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century" -- have generally come true, although not quite as soon or as calamitously as he had warned. The pity of it all is that in American politics, being right is beside the point.

Yup. Paul Krugman has an outstanding column today on the global warming deniers:

Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole — but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.

Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.

Rush Limbaugh is the ideal spokesman for this movement. His rants are making him a lot of money today, and he has no offspring, which makes it a lot easier to not give a damn about tomorrow.