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The heart of the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA) is a massive increase in subsidies for “green energy,” which normally summons a gag reflex from most conservatives. But the iconoclasts at the Breakthrough Institute, who are not automatic or uncritical fans of wind and solar power, think the climate parts of the IRA represent a break from historic climate orthodoxy that most people haven’t recognized.
“Breakthroughvians,” as they are known, are progressives who dissent from or critique much of today’s progressive orthodoxy, making them more enemies on the left than on the right. Among other things, they are the impresarios of the “Ecomodernist Manifesto,” which, to put it simply, isn’t your grandfather’s Oldsmobile environmentalism.
I decided to catch up with Alex Trembath, the deputy director of Breakthrough who is a long-time friend, to walk through some of the fine points of the bill, and his most peculiar recent article, “Joe Manchin, Climate Hawk.”
I’m not fully convinced, and Alex freely admits some defects and potential pitfalls of the new climate policy. He also agrees that some of the encomiums offered in praise of the bill (like Paul Krugman saying the bill may have “saved civilization”) are ridiculous, and that the conventional climate action crowd will probably turn on the bill in the fullness of time. Give it a listen with an open mind, and especially take in Alex’s optimism, which also departs from typical environmentalism. That’s one reason I like these guys.
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