Tea Partiers Aren’t as Scientifically Stupid as Believed – Concludes One Smart Liberal

Those that read this blog know that I’m a fan of Dan Kahan, although I don’t know him personally and he and I don’t hang together in the same political spheres.  Kahan has conducted some interesting research on cultural cognition as it relates to climate change and other controversial topics, like vaccines, that require an intellectual capacity (and willingness) to understand scientifically complex issues.  But before delving into Kahan’s interesting results, a brief refresher on linear regression analysis.  The higher the r-value, ranging from 1.0 to -1.0, the stronger the correlation between two variables.  When doing linear regression, you can have both negative and positive correlations.  It should come, therefore, as no surprise to learn that those who are more highly educated tend to have higher scientific literacy and comprehension than those less educated, r-value of 0.36, as shown by the histogram below.  Full post over on Kahan’s blog here

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Obduracy of Climate Politics Creates Real Risks

Michael Gerson, a conservative and former speech writer for Bush 43, has a very thoughtful article this week on the climate change debate.  I have grown increasingly frustrated by those voices within the Republican party who, for whatever reason, refuse to  consider the possibility that human activities are contributing to climate change.  Yes, I know, environmentalists have overplayed their hand, made predictions that haven’t materialized, and have exploited fear to leverage action.  The consequences have been greater cynism and, what I refer to as, a crisis of credibility.  However, this crisis of credibility doesn’t diminish the very real possibility that climate change, caused in part by human activity, is occurring.  However, as Gerson argues over in WashPo, politics is poorly suited to address global warming. Continue reading

Contemplating a Conservative Response to Climate Change

Wanted to bring attention to a new blog, The Climate Conservative, the brainchild of my friend, Rob Sisson, over at ConservAmerica.  I’ve long believed the topic of anthropogenic climate change (AGW) is an emerging issue that warrants thoughtful debate and discussion, but have witnessed the serious erosion of credibility by both the political left and right who have used the controversy to obfuscate and advance their own political agendas.  Trying to “scare” the public into action hasn’t worked and won’t work by those who continue to play fast and loose with scientific facts and uncertainty.  And the strategy of denial, relegating AGW to nothing more than a mere hoax, does nothing to advance the interests of wise stewardship if, in fact, humans are influencing the climate.   Continue reading

Climate Skeptics May, In Fact, Be Good For The Earth

I bring your attention to a great article by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus as the IPCC releases this week its latest report on climate change.  Pointing to the work of Robert Bryce, Steve Hayward, and even the Koch Brothers, the article begins,

Over the last decade, progressives have successfully painted conservative climate skepticism as the major stumbling block to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Exxon and the Koch brothers, the story goes, fund conservative think tanks to sow doubt about climate change and block legislative action. As evidence mounts that anthropogenic global warming is underway, conservatives’ flight from reason is putting us all at risk.

This week’s release of a new United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report opens another front in the climate wars. But beneath the bellowing, name-calling, and cherry-picking of data that have become the hallmark of contemporary climate politics lies a paradox: the energy technologies favored by the climate-skeptical Right are doing far more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than the ones favored by the climate-apocalyptic Left.  [continue reading]

Lest you dismiss this criticism of the climate-apocalyptic Left, Nordhaus and Shellenberger are dyed-in-the-wool liberal, environmentalists.  The article is well worth the read.

The Decline of GOP Environmentalism or Decline of Environmentalism Itself

Paul Sabin has an article in this weekend’s Boston Globe titled “The Decline of Republican Environmentalism.” Sabin, a professor of history at Yale and author of “The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future,” makes a compelling case for the country’s current deadlock on forging solutions to important environmental matters, including climate change.  However, I think the article could aptly have been titled the “Decline of Environmentalism” or “The Failed Gamble of Environmentalism,” rather than painting the GOP into a corner.  According to Sabin,

Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, from the sunny decks of an excursion boat touring Boston Harbor, George H.W. Bush, then the Republican candidate for president, launched a fierce attack on Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee. Bush said that Boston’s polluted waters — “the dirtiest harbor” in America — symbolized Dukakis’s failed leadership. He “will say that he will do for America what he’s done for Massachusetts,” Bush declared. “That’s why I fear for the country.” By delaying a major cleanup of the harbor, Bush said, Dukakis had cost taxpayers billions of dollars and allowed the pollution to continue, making “the most expensive public policy mistake in the history of New England.”

Bush’s attack on Dukakis stands out as perhaps the last time a prominent national Republican turned an environmental cause into a weapon against a Democratic opponent. And in that 25-year gap lies a lost path and a giant missed opportunity. Republicans no longer seriously contest the environmental vote; instead, they have run from it. Largely as a result, national environmental policy-making has become one-sided, polarized, and stuck. Republican politicians mostly deny the threat of climate disruption and block legislative solutions, while President Obama tries to go it alone with a shaky patchwork of executive actions. A middle ground on environmental policy remains a mirage. Continue reading

Conservative Skepticism Not Caused by Climate Change

A little tongue-in-cheek there in case you missed it.  But everything these days seems to get blamed on climate change, rain, storms, snow, droughts, flooding, migration, violence, insecurity, depression, and bad hair.  At some point it all becomes unbelievable and facile, and it’s regrettable when an otherwise serious scientific discussion morphs into a political charade.  Chris Mooney, a politically left and perspicacious political journalist, has penned a thoughtful piece over at Mother Jones regarding the skeptical mind of conservatives and the modern role of science.  Polls consistently reveal that conservatives and the political right are a skeptical bunch and far less inclined to believe in manmade climate change than are their liberal neighbors.  Some have sought to blame this phenomena on conservative media, such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, who indeed are prone to sowing seeds of doubt.  But is that the root cause of conservative skepticism?  Mooney isn’t buying it, Continue reading

Crunchy Con Manifesto Redux

Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate Rod Dreher’s contributions to environmental discourse and advancing the better elements of conservativism.  Some may recall his work at National Review, where he was the king of Crunchy Con.  It’s difficult to improve upon his Manifesto, which I’m reposting here:

  1. We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
  2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
  3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
  4. Culture is more important than politics and economics.
  5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.
  6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
  7. Beauty is more important than efficiency.
  8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
  9. We share Russell Kirk’s conviction that “the institution most essential to conserve is the family.”
  10. Politics and economics won’t save us; if our culture is to be saved at all, it will be by faithfully living by the Permanent Things, conserving these ancient moral truths in the choices we make in our everyday lives.

I would love to hear from anyone, liberal or conservative, with ideas on how this set of guiding principles could be improved.