Peter, what did you do?!!!!
Some people disliked yesterday's post.
"How could you possibly give those climate-change skeptics a voice by describing their positions? They are simply wrong. The science is settled."
It isn't settled. Not in the minds of about half of American voters.
According to Pew polling this month, a majority of Republicans and a strong majority of White Christian evangelicals, not only don't think climate science is settled, they don't believe it. And other voters half-believe it, but they don't think it is important enough to do anything about.
A more credible poll in my opinion is the 2022 election. Republican candidates who treated rising carbon levels in the atmosphere as a negligible problem, or not a problem at all, got re-elected in all the places where Republicans do well, about half of America.
Democratic officeholders affirm that climate change is real and important. A majority of voters agree. Polls confirm it, as do my anecdotal observations. But that majority becomes less robust if a consumer is asked to pay a price in money or convenience. Only about 150,000 of Oregon's 790,000 customers--19%--pay extra for "Blue Sky" electricity, which is the electricity generated from renewable sources. Oregon Democrats in the legislature offered a step toward reducing CO2: A gasoline tax. The money raised would have been rebated per capita to consumers. The law would have given a market-based nudge toward driving less and driving fuel-efficient vehicles. It failed. The proposal generated a revolt by every Republican legislator.
My Democratic friends use phrases like "existential threat" to describe the rise in CO2. It is commonplace, even among rural Trump supporters, to presume that local farms' longer frost-free periods, the lower rainfall, and the new era of prolonged forest fires are caused by "climate change." A majority of people seem to think that "something is happening." That battle is won. However, there is no clear consensus that there is anything we can or should do about it. There is widespread denialism.
I think Democrats need to understand and confront denialism, not dismiss it. Some of the ideas claim CO2 is a positive good; warmer is better. More of the ideas are expressions of doubt. Maybe we aren't really warming and maybe a little CO2 is harmless. Who really knows? Most common are ideas reflecting powerlessness: It is all Mother Nature and there is no fixing her. Besides, why bother, since China and India are adding coal plants.
My critics dismiss these arguments as thoroughly debunked. Maybe they are, to them, but not to everyone. The ideas are still out there and they provide the fact-basis to justify what is easiest to do. Most people like the freedom to do the easiest, cheapest, most convenient thing, which is to maintain the status quo. Maybe someone will invent something. Maybe this climate thing will all go away.
I will cite an analogy with health. A physician friend tells me that the science is clear from multiple studies like this one among many that a vegan diet will reduce my risk of death from heart disease. The data are clear. It is settled. But there is a price to pay to adopt a vegan diet. I have habits and inertia. Still, I am tempted to go vegan. I would answer a poll question "Yes" if it asked if I thought a vegan diet would lengthen my life.
Doctor: But, Peter, clogged arteries are an existential threat to you. You die from this!
Me: Yeah, well, let me think about it.
And I do think about it. I think maybe the data are wrong. There are other researchers with different data. Maybe my life expectancy is controlled by Mother Nature and my DNA, not my diet. I temporize. Maybe if I ate fish, but never red meat. But there is a ham in the freezer and it would be a shame to waste it.
The purpose of my post yesterday was to alert Democrats. I think they over-estimate the consensus on climate change. They think the battle of the science of carbon and CO2 is won. It isn't. If it were, voters would act like CO2 is an existential threat. They don't.
I have invited some of my critics to offer Guest Posts.
Peter, I, for one, appreciate greatly your willingness to address both sides of this issue.
I used to be a rabid global warmist, up until I watched Gore's movie “inconvenient truth”. As a person who studied climatology, physics, geology, math thru calculus, chemistry, among other subjects, I saw so many misleading statements in that movie that I started investigating all the claims made by both sides.
I want to add that I’ve been a raging environmentalist/tree hugger since 1968. I was introduced to the environmental movement by a petroleum geologist at ARCO, where I had a summer job as a “junior geologist”, while majoring in that subject at Texas Tech.
Over the last 40 years, I’ve built several houses under PP&L's “super good cents” program. I’ve designed and built passive solar water heating systems. At my current, earth sheltered, home I also have two, 3000 watt solar electric systems, Tesla power walls, a 400% efficient ductless heat pump, and a 400% efficient geothermal HVAC system, and a state certified wood heater. I’m politically strongly progressive; I don’t believe I’ve ever voted for a Republican.
Ok, now that you know I’m not a right wing idiot, here are just a couple of things that make me somewhat skeptical. Gore, in his movie, showed a wall sized graph, showing co2 levels vs. temperature over the last few million years.
The two graph lines were obviously correlative to each other. What Gore conveniently failed to mention, tho, was that the rise in temperature always PRECEDED the rise in co2, by an average of about 800 years.
Even most (?) warmists generally admit this is true, and perform mental gymnastics trying to explain why the law of cause and effect doesn’t apply, in this situation.
Me? I believe that, when the earth warms, concurrently the ocean warms. It’s well known that warmer water can dissolve less co2 than colder water. Thus, as the ocean warms, it tends to lose co2, which of course results in increasing levels of that gas in the atmosphere.
I’m tempted to give other examples, eg the manipulation of data from the dust bowl days by NASA, (NOAH?), but this comment is ridiculously long already.
Bottom line, I am on the fence re co2 caused global warming. It certainly appears that we have a changing climate, but maybe it’s cause is something other than co2. Maybe it’s simply natural climate variability. I’ve seen no formulae comparing X° temperature to ppm co2, for one thing.
I’ve done my part; I am aware of innumerable warmists who have no solar power, no electricity-or even hybrid-vehicles, no passive home heating or cooling, no carpooling, etc. Admittedly, most warmists I know have taken advantage of energy trust of Oregon’s free L.E.D. light bulbs and free low flow shower heads. Woop woop.
Sad to say, I can also honestly state that most warmists I know base their beliefs on what they hear from others, as they have no education in climate or related studies.
From 2005 to 2018 when I was teaching Intro to Biology III (ecology and evolution) I would have more students walk out of my lecture on global warming causations and evidence than would walk out from my lectures on human evolution.