I’ve heard from some who have grown weary of my covering climate change here – and I must confess that I too grow weary of the topic. This blog was never intended to focus on a singular topic, but because of how central climate change has become to so much of the policy and political debate on energy and natural resource management, it simply cannot be ignored. So I ask for your indulgence for this, and possibly a few more posts in the weeks to come.
Because of all the climate change “noise” from competing views, it is extremely difficult for anyone to decipher fact from fiction. And what one believes on the issue can probably be distilled into one word “trust.” Who you gonna believe, Rush Limbaugh or Al Gore? Who you trust on this matter, what scientific or political figures you believe will steer you right, probably aligns well with your current position and views on the topic. Continue reading →
During my commute into DC yesterday for a lunch meeting, I had my radio tuned to Rush Limbaugh when he swerved into the topic of climate change. He was talking about recent comments made by Secretary Kerry wherein Kerry made reference to climate change as “a challenge to our responsibilities as the guardians–safe guarders of God’s creation.” Well Rush took issue with Kerry’s comment, but particularly Kerry’s inconsistent treatment and views of the unborn as part of God’s creation. Here is a snippet of the monologue:
You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe that man controls something that he can’t create. The vanity! These people — on the one hand, we’re no different than a mouse or a rat. If you listen to the animal rights activists, we are the pollutants of this planet. If it weren’t for humanity — the military environmentalist wackos — the Earth would be pristine and wonderful and beautiful, and nobody would see it. According to them we are not as entitled to life on this planet as other creatures because we destroy it. But how can we destroy it when we’re no different from the lowest life forms?”
And then on the other end, we are so powerful. And we are so impotent — omnipotent that we can destroy — we can’t even stop a rain shower, but we can destroy the climate. And how? With barbecue pits and automobiles, particularly SUVs. It’s absurd. Continue reading →
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 →
There’s been a fair amount of controversy – some might even call it an old fashion dust up – involving a recent study by John Cook et al. that claims 97.1% of scientists endorse the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. The study has been used by some in the media as a rallying cry to force a public consensus as well as policy action. Step number one in any change management strategy is to create a sense of urgency, the burning platform that drives change. Yet the “consensus” study has been resoundingly criticized by some, including Professor Mike Hulme, as poorly conceived, designed and executed, and contriving a debate that is irrelevant and unhelpful in advancing policy solutions. This latter point is supported in part by a recent Pew Research study that reveals 7 in 10 Americans believe global warming is occurring, but only 4 in 10 believe that such warming is caused by human activity. So a super-majority believes climate change is happening, but less than half are convinced that warming is caused by humans and/or don’t support drastic policy measures being advanced by those who would seek to kill the Keystone Pipeline project. So the purported “disconnect” is not about whether there is a problem; rather, it’s how we address the problem. Continue reading →
Roger Pielke Jr. has a thoughtful piece over at The Breakthrough Institute titled The Irrelevance of Climate Skeptics. Himself, having long been labeled by some as a climate skeptic, Pielke’s seemingly self-effacing perspective is that public opinion on climate change is over and the battle for the plebeian mind has been won by those professing man-made climate change. But before delving into Pielke’s intriguing idea, I first offer a comment about the Institute, lead by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus – not household names to those outside the wacky world of environmentalism – whose 2004 essay The Death of Environmentalism featured prominently on the front page of the NYT.
The Institute represents an encouraging paradigm shift, free of the reflexive “us v. them” environmentalism and stodgy party politics and usual partisan divide, with a bevy of new generation, smart research academics and free-thinking policy wonks who care about the human condition and finding practical solutions to some of civilization’s most pressing environmental challenges – or “wicked” problems as David Ropeik likes to call them – on water, energy, climate, and sustainability. In 2011, Nordhaus and Shellenberger started the Breakthrough Journal, which The New Republic called “among the most complete answers” to the question of how to modernize liberal thought, and the National Review called “The most promising effort at self-criticism by our liberal cousins in a long time.” Pretty remarkable collision of liberal and conservative praise. Check out their website – it’s worth your time, as the Institute’s big think approach is changing the way the next generation will analyze, debate, and govern in a world filled with wicked problems. Continue reading →
This week Rush Limbaugh had a young listener – a 13-year old boy named, Alex – call in to discuss his doubts of manmade climate change. Rush, impressed by the young lad’s articulation of his interest and research, gave him an iPad to continue his endeavors – story here. This prompted another media sensation and howls by the left decrying the evils of Limbaugh. One of the more interesting articles stemming from Limbaugh’s commentary this week comes from Kurt Eichenwald over at Vanity Fair. Eichenwald’s piece is entitled The Creeping Danger of Conspiracy Theorists and his point is that some things are very complicated and increasingly we humans are prone to believing in conspiracies. Continue reading →