guelphs and ghibellines


Okay, I have a question. It can be asked about pretty much any heated topic, but let’s take global warming, because it’s near and dear to our hearts. Namely thus: Why are you conservatives so hellbent on keeping the rest of us from trying to save the Earth? I just don’t get it. Every time I bring up global warming, climate change, or tangential topics like corporate responsibility, you immediately try to discredit the data, ridicule the messenger, obfuscate the topic, throw your hands up in despair, or chuckle like we’re poor saps who just don’t get it.

I mean, exactly what dog do you have in this fight? Why is the concept of climate change so threatening to you, as if it’s some kind of deadly misinformation that must be sublimated at all costs? If you don’t believe it’s happening, well, I think you’re being ignorant and making my kids pay for your laziness, but I can grudgingly respect your decision. What I don’t get is why you don’t just ignore the calls for environmentalism; instead, you fight them with everything you’ve got. There has to be something else afoot.

Are you afraid of losing money, personally? Will certain stocks you own go down in value if the world starts trying to act responsibly? Or does the thought of a hundred good years of capitalism taking this planet to the brink fill you with so much guilt that you have to deny global warming in order to sleep at night?

Is it cognitive dissonance? Is the news so overwhelmingly bad that you are willing to retreat into the first pair of open arms who tells you that everything is going to be okay?

This may raise guffaws, but I think the best thing about being a liberal is a constant self-questioning search for truth. Yes, American culture since Reagan has vilified liberalism/progressivism, but the truest among us always sets aside chunks of time to doubt our beliefs. It’s why we lose a lot, why we dabble in nuance, and why we let conservatives scream louder. But I think 99% of liberals would be more than happy to learn global warming was bullshit, if shown evidence.

Conservatives fascinate me; when proof of their mistakes are shown, they usually just believe it even harder. Witness the last six years, probably the biggest, quickest breakdown of governmental competence since the Great Depression, and still our president has the temerity to give us headlines like Bush Sees Mideast Strife as a Step Toward Peace.

So I need to know: are you discrediting thousands of scientists and a near-unanimous global consensus that man is causing the CO2 rise, making the Earth unsustainably hotter just because you’re a conservative, and that’s what conservatives think? If so, I would have thought better of you. That’s not choosing a position, that’s just choosing sides.

0 thoughts on “guelphs and ghibellines

  1. Matt

    I generally do ignore it, or at least as much as you and others of your “faith” ignore evidence contrary to anthropogenic warming. There’s not a “near-unanimous global consensus” on this matter, as I’ve cited evidence toward numerous times. (I have dozens of such articles saved in my home browser.)
    Take for example the fact that ice core samples have shown average tempurature fluctations of 15 degrees in a single decade at least 10 times in recent geological time. That’s a hell of a lot bigger swing than the few degrees the alarmists are predicting for the next century. And there were no fossil fuels burning at those times. There are examples after examples of evidence that is routinely ignored by the doomsayers (who have monetary interests at stake as well, don’t kid yourself). One ice shelf is melting — many headlines. Another is growing — move along, nothing to see here. There’s ample evidence of discrimination against scientists who submit papers for publication that note “inconvenient truths” about man-made global warming. But avert your eyes and don’t allow anything to cause you to question your faith!
    You write, “Conservatives fascinate me; when proof of their mistakes are shown, they usually just believe it even harder.” Funny, I see the very same trait in liberals. The only thing about eco-hysteria that bothers me is the self-righteousness combined with overt hypocrisy. But by all means, believe what you wish to believe and hang on every word of your religion’s Supreme Leader (Al Gore). That part doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’ll keep my chuckling to a minimum.

  2. Beth

    Matt, I don’t think you answered Ian’s question, which was: Why are you scoffing at people who want to effect positive change for the environment? Why would you want them to stop? Whether you believe in global warming or not,* why do you argue against a movement that wants to make the earth a healthier place? Isn’t that a win-win for everyone?
    *Have you seen “An Inconvenient Truth”? There’s a scene where Al Gore talks about legitimate scientists’ views on global warming (not one refutes it) vs. the mainstream media’s constant questioning of it. You can believe what you want to believe, but why not hedge your bets and aim for a better environment just in case?

  3. Matt

    Beth, I think I did answer Ian’s question. I’m not bothered that he mixes faith with science. That shouldn’t mean I have to buy it myself. I’m only arguing that he’s ignoring considerable evidence to the contrary and radical government programs, such as what Kyoto would entail, would cripple our economy and do absolutely nothing to reduce global GHG emissions. Otherwise, I’m all for environmentalism and do many things to make the earth a cleaner place to live. I actually worked as an engineer with the US EPA for a few years and enjoyed it greatly.
    “Have you seen “An Inconvenient Truth”? There’s a scene where Al Gore talks about legitimate scientists’ views on global warming (not one refutes it) vs. the mainstream media’s constant questioning of it.”
    “Legitimate scientists’ views” are ones that don’t refute anthropogenic global warming? See, this is the religious aspect I’m talking about. Anyone who dissents is a heretic, evidence be damned. And the MSM does nothing but eat this stuff up with a spoon. I have no idea where you get that they constantly question it.

  4. kent

    Oh, I get it. The whole Global Warming thing is part of a vast Left Wing Conspiracy to subvert science.
    Matt, you get cred in this blog for not being as strident or offensive as some, but on this issue, you have zero credibility with me now, because you went straight to the wingnut conspiracy argument against global warming.
    I work for a research institution so I know that there is a political aspect to scientific research. But the politics are personal and almost never aligned with ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ or the politics of the larger society. On Global Warming, the preponderance of research validating it is overwhelming. End of story.
    Matt, all of your carefully saved links are from right wing web sites, citing scientists who dispute global warming, without saying who is paying them to say those things. Some of them probably aren’t even real scientists, and the story was concocted out of whole cloth by people payed to validate the prejudices of right wingers.
    The big energy companies have spent millions of dollars on ‘research’ to counter global warming, not to mention massive contributions to right wing think tanks and political campaigns. Their goal is transparent: preserve the status quo, because they know how to make money out of it. They don’t have to actually disprove global warming, just murk the waters a bit. They’re in essence Swift-boating science.
    Ocean temperatures are rising, the coral reefs are dying, severe weather is becoming more common, frog species are disappearing, rainfall patterns are changing. The downside of global warming are going to be so catastrophic that it’s insane not to do something about it — particularly because any work to limit CO2 emissions have other environmental benefits — more efficient use of finite resources and cleaner air.

  5. Chris M

    You get the feeling that liberals/environmentalists are using global warming issue as a fresh proxy to win a broader argument about political and economic philosophy.
    I am sceptical because I see the same sort of people who are consistently in favor of getting the government to force other people to do, or stop doing, certain things are the same ones convinced that global warming is a huge threat to our existence and action must be taken. I also know that scientists are human beings with their own biases and ambitions.
    Acceptance by enough voters of the premise that global warming will cause devastation would determine the conclusion that the government must pass very strict laws that liberal environmentalists have wanted passed since long before global warming was an issue: big increase in CAFE standards, big increase the gasoline tax, big subsidies for alternative energies.
    These are the same issues from the 1970s.
    I pay attention to critical analysis of computuer models cited as the basis for predicting devastation fifty years. Models that are constructed with baseless assumptions about future warming trends. Scientists do those sorts of things because they are interesting and get them noticed.
    Semi-informed newspaper reporters print stories about the models and semi-informed liberals read them and believe them because they are in the NY Times and because they are consistent with their pre-established world view. I used to do the same thing but, with time, was able to figure out that the relability of the predictions/threats on the pages of the NYT were shockingly low, especially when they were consistent with the editorial views of the NYT.
    Global warming might cause great harm. I don’t know. Those who believe it might consider that it is not so much the fault of the non-believers that they don’t believe, but of the messengers who have degraded their own credibility.

  6. Matt

    “End of story.”
    That about sums it up for your side in this debate. Eyes wide shut.
    The studies and articles I’ve read are not from “right-wing sites” at all, but decidedly liberal newspapers and apolitical climate conferences. I don’t doubt that advocates of man-made global warming are sincere, but I do believe they are as equally subject to their own biases and motivations as the rest of us. There’s big money in advancing their agenda (and validating the prejudices of left wingers). There’s a monetary aspect to both sides. Does anyone really believe that Al Gore couldn’t find a single “legitimate scientist” who is skeptical of the anthropogenic cause of the slight warming we’re now seeing? That’s naive.
    “Ocean temperatures are rising, the coral reefs are dying, severe weather is becoming more common, frog species are disappearing, rainfall patterns are changing.”
    News flash, Kent. All those things have been happening long before the industrial evolution. It’s been much hotter in the past, severe weather is not getting worse — Nebraska and Kansas didn’t report a single tornado in the first half of this year. That has never happened since the advent of Doppler radar. If all bad weather is the fault of global warming, then shouldn’t it get credit for the good, too.
    Change is the norm where climate is concerned.

  7. John Schultz

    Ian- your message is the right one. Your approach is not.
    “Are you afraid of losing money, personally? Will certain stocks you own go down in value if the world starts trying to act responsibly? Or does the thought of a hundred good years of capitalism taking this planet to the brink fill you with so much guilt that you have to deny global warming in order to sleep at night?”
    This is exactly the kind of whining diatribe that alienates people like me to the point that we give the appearance of not caring.
    The operative word in “global warming” is global. Are we doing enough in the US to prevent it from happening? Of course not. This cannot be a political issue so stop pouring gas on the fire. This country must lead the advance to cause change here and in rapidly industrializing countries like China, Korea and India. To do that we all have to move beyond our own political insecurities and swallow a huge piece of humble pie.

  8. Lara

    I’m not trying to gang up on you Matt, but I gave you credit a few weeks ago for engaging in intelligent debate, and you’re killing me on this one. I just want to know, did you see or read “An Inconvenient Truth” and, if so, do you truly believe the research it cites and the conclusions it reaches are part of a left-wing conspiracy?
    You could even take the book out of the library if you don’t want to give money to what you perceive to be a liberal radical group. Although then you’d probably be tracked by the CIA and reported to Rove. (I’m joking, before you think I’m into conspiracy theories too).

  9. Jody

    As a geologist, that pretty much lends quickly to me being an athiestical fatalist… and alcoholic, given such depressing terms. I think it was put best, by some reference I can’t remember, that “this period in the geologic record will be marked by a thin black toxic line”. Or something similar.
    The environmental problems we’re developing are a well developed suite of which global warming is merely a part. If those don’t wipe us out, a global war over resources or extinction event will. That doesn’t help address your post today since I doubt it is the inspiration for denial amongst the general populace.
    Think deeply about why people deny such things in general. I will give you an example –
    The US Geological survey headquarters in California is a tank of structural engineering. The reason for this is that it is located in one of the most seismically active areas in the world, one that has been very damaged even 100 years ago. The open knowledge and scientific prediction for seismic in this area is unanimous and uncontested; it will be destroyed, many people will die and the damage will be financially unfathomable to tally.
    Where are you blogging from, and why? How could you ignore the predictions, even if the numbers, statistics and trembling are right there under your feet. I think we all need the sledgehammer of an experience to convince us – even this will only last a couple of generations.
    I was reminded by a phone call this week about something else. The call was from a very educated and liberal friend, vacationing from NC at their coastal house in Oregon. I would love to link to them today, but probably shouldn’t without warning them. They are well represented on the blogosphere and cover all the great topics from the Supreme Court appointments, to everything Bush, to net neutrality, to… well you get the idea. The problem is, they are also in Oregon because they drove there. The trip home will be via New Orleans. The week after they get home will be at a conference in Switzerland. This is some pretty serious carbon dumping of which you suffer the same affliction. So does Al Gore, as he travels with the global warming roadshow.
    While you are intelligent, liberal and cognizant enough to recognize the problem, you are the wrong messenger. So is my friend, so am I (even though I have a serious new urbanist life). The proper messenger will be the middle class commuter who looks at their urban loop commute and says what the fuck? Who looks at their continuous “cheap shit from China” trips to Wal Mart (thanks, Joe Q.) and says what the fuck? The municipality, shopping mall or big box who looks at their lit up extravaganza of a parking lot and says what the fuck?
    But a wealthy liberal elite messenger? Probably not close enough to home. Also, part of the problem is that the earth has been a lot hotter, and colder, than it is now. This is also scientifically established and people percieve it as normal or that, quite truthfully, they may be powerless to stop it.

  10. Matt

    Lara, no, I haven’t (and won’t) see the Gore’s movie, just like I didn’t see Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. They are both works of propaganda, one-sided diatribes advancing an ideological agenda, not serious examinations of important issues. I’m sorry to have let you down on this one, but I believe there is real cause for skepticism as to the anthropogenic cause of global warming, as do thousands, albeit a minority, of climate researchers. It’s not so much a “left-wing conspiracy” as it is a case of systematic and perhaps unconscious bias. There’s ample evidence to support this view but, as someone said above, it’s End of Story as far as they are concerned so no further debate is desired. That’s why I say the proposition that global warming is man-made has reached religious levels, taken as an article of faith regardless of the actual science.

  11. Lara

    How do you know that if you haven’t seen it? Having actually seen both of them, I can tell you that “An Inconvenient Truth” is nothing like “Farenheit 911.” If a book or a movie disagrees with your beliefs, is it automatically “propaganda”? It definitely takes a side and presents evidence to support that side, much like a debate, but I don’t think that rises to the level of propaganda.
    Oh well, I guess I should just be glad you’re not comparing Gore to Hitler.

  12. Matt

    Heh. That’s not our schtick, Lara. I’ve read reviews of the Gore film and a commenter above wrote that not a single scientist appeared in that movie to offer a counterview of man-made global warming. That doesn’t sound like a balanced debate to me, since there is, in fact, many in the scientific community who harbor such doubts, and with good cause. From the reviews, there are numerous instances where Gore ignored inconvienent facts in order to pursue his storyline that we must all listen to the wise Al Gore or we’re all doomed! Anyway, I’ve said my piece. When we’re roasting in the apocalyptic climate of Earth, I’ll admit you were right.

  13. Piglet

    First off, it’s called “cognitive dissonance”. If they believed it, then they’d either have to make big changes or they wouldn’t be able to face themselves. Both are more painful options than simply bullshitting themselves that there is no crisis. therefore, it’s easy for them to bullshit themselves.
    Second, it’s called “the tragedy of the commons”. In order to resolve the crisis, we’d all have to make sacrifices together. Just a handful of people making changes wouldn’t do any good. Conservatives believe that most or all humans are rotten bastards who can only be coerced into good behavior through harsh laws and punishments. Therefore, they believe it is impossible for that many people to voluntarily work to resolve global warming. And, as long as everyone else is having fun with their SUVs at planetary expense, and sacrifice on their part won’t do any good by itself, it’s hard to see why THEY should be the only ones to curb their lifestyle.
    Third, the pleasure of one’s own lifestyle is immediate, and the consequences of global warming are some time in the future. You might as well ask why so many people get overweight. Except in this case, it’s as if the consequences of overeating were spread around the world instead of around one’s own waistband.

  14. Claverack Weekender

    The political battle for control of the country is fought at a very local level on an issue-by-issue basis. I know some people actually believe or think they believe one side or the other, but my guess is that most are just fighting the party line…. Probably based on a USA Today-level understanding of the issues as framed by national political organizations. No one here on this blog, of course!!
    Global warming is a great wedge issue that helps divide people into camps. First off, it has the whole “pot-smoking, hippy tree hugger” aura that sells well to the Ohio non-union factory worker. says it is a false choice between strong economy and healthy environment, but if I work in a factory how can I be sure? Second it is a luxury issue, the kind of thing people talk about at dinner and cocktail parties rather than over a cigarette at your typical tailgate or baseball game. “Al Gore Documentary? No, I saw Pirates of the Caribbean last weekend. Johnny Depp was awesome!!” Inconvenient Truth is described as having incredible momentum but has grossed under $20m. Pirates has crossed $300m in a month.
    Perhaps I am too cynical, but it seems like the entire fight is about getting control of appropriations along with the regulations that make some businesses win and others lose. Very few people in this country are well-represented in Washington, especially those who can’t afford lobbyists.

  15. Piglet

    “I am sceptical because I see the same sort of people who are consistently in favor of getting the government to force other people to do, or stop doing, certain things are the same ones convinced that global warming is a huge threat to our existence and action must be taken. ”
    So you’re saying the government should not force people to do, or not do, certain things? Shall I put you down for disbanding the police and the army and freeing all prisoners, then?

  16. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    As my love Bono would say, “Am I bugging you? I don’t mean to BUG ya. OK Edge, play the blues!”

  17. emma

    Without getting into the whole global warming debate, I recently contacted a friend of mine who runs the utilities department for the city(town) that I live in. I asked him to tell me about greenpower. He sent me some very informative information. Sort of as an aside, he mentioned that there are only two accounts (one customer with two different accounts) in his entire service area who contribute to greenpower. So, after a get a chance to go down there and sign up, we should have three accounts from our area. The environmentalist in me loves the idea, but so does the conservative in me – it’s tax deductible.

  18. Chuck B.

    To me, this is a simple question of probability and risk management. If there were a meteor heading in our direction, but there was only a 5% chance that it would hit us, then we should do everything we can to prevent it from happening. The downside risk is so great, that even with a 5% chance, the damage of not acting overwhelms the cost of acting. We would not be sitting around debating whether the real probability is 5% or 15%.
    P0ker players among us may be familiar with the concept of “pot odds,” which does a similiar analysis based on upside reward. (Even if you chance of winning a hand is relatively small, if the pot is enormous, you might want to stay in because the payoff if you win is so great.)
    I think it’s obvious where I’m going here. What if there is only a 5% chance that those of us who believe in an anthropogenic cause of global warming are right? Isn’t the downside risk so much that we should do everything we can to prevent it from happening?

  19. Steph Mineart

    Aside from the debate about the WHY of it, taking a look at Gore’s film would help us all get to the answer of “what do we do about it” — the proposed answers to which are not at all Chris M’s “government must pass very strict laws… big increase in CAFE standards, big increase the gasoline tax, big subsidies for alternative energies.”
    Talk about projecting — that’s a whopper of a projection there. At least see the film to consider the proposed solutions.

  20. Beth

    Ha! LFMD, that’s the perfect interjection!
    Matt, really, the movie is not about Al Gore’s agenda–it’s sort of a shame that he’s the messenger, because conservatives feel compelled to dispense with his message. If you saw the movie, you’d be much more credible in your refutations of it, should you find it necessary to keep offering them.

  21. Matt

    “First off, it’s called “cognitive dissonance”. If they believed it, then they’d either have to make big changes or they wouldn’t be able to face themselves. Both are more painful options than simply bullshitting themselves that there is no crisis. therefore, it’s easy for them to bullshit themselves.”
    Piglet, you could be talking of liberals and the war on terrorism in that paragraph.
    Beth, fair enough, though I’d be perfectly content not having to mention Al Gore or his crockumentary ever again. No one is pretending it’s not completely one-sided, are they?

  22. chaircrusher

    Err Matt … your arguments are in my opinion pretty rickety. First of all the great preponderance of evidence is that human activity is responsible in large part for global warming.
    What’s open to question is how exactly will the CO2 and other outputs of human activity affect the global ecosystem. It’s a large, chaotic (in the mathematical sense of chaotic) system with many inputs. But the fact is that even if we don’t know exactly what will happen, we do know that many of the possible outcomes are really dire. The best we can hope for is that we won’t completely trash the environment in the coming century. The conservatives and corporate interests who want to have a ‘debate’ over global warming are using the same tactics of the ‘Intelligent Design’ crap-artists. They exploit the fact that good science is always provisional, and open to challenge, by challenging it around the edges.
    Very successful scientific principles like Evolution and Climate Science have uncertainties and inconsistencies. And by successful, I mean that they align with observed phenomena and accurately predict new phenomena. They’re not perfect, but they’re the most successful explanation we’ve got, and while they’re open to refinement, they can’t be made to go away by pretending they’re a big hoax.
    But you’re completely ignoring a huge component of the debate — things like reducing the environmental impact of the things we do are good things in and of themselves. Improving fuel economy, consuming less electricity, making industrial processes more material and energy efficient — these are all things that are intrinsically worth doing.
    The root source of all this global warming debunking is corporations who make their money from non-sustainable use of resources. They fund the think tanks that provide the ‘experts,’ they fund studies to try and muddy up the waters, and raise doubts about mainstream climate science. They do it because they want to keep doing what they’re doing and making as much money as possible out of the last-century infrastructure they’ve built up.

  23. Chris M

    Gore, the lifelong politician, says global warming isn’t a political issue but a moral one. Where was this moral issue during the 2000 election? From 1992 to 2000 when he was Vice President of the United States?
    Gore says global warming is so very serious that it could result in Manhattan under more than 20 feet of water. I guess that disaster scenario was first developed by scientists after the 2000 election.
    Gore says preventing his parade of horribles won’t require any real pain for regular folks like you and Al. Energy efficient light bulbs – how convenient!
    Different election cycle, different political strategy…Gore: “Must..defeat..terrorism………….as a political issue…(gasp)…need big scary issue for Democrats…(sweat)…”
    If anyone wants to know about more mundane threats to human life, I’ll describe in exquisite detail each of the autopsies I have attended. After one has been enlightened and toughened by ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, you’ll be able to handle anything.

  24. Zel M.

    You know, I had a big long, eloquent reply typed, but with some of the folks on here, I figured, what’s the point. So let me be more succinct:
    The planet is warming. I will concede that. But the planet has a history of warming and cooling that cannot be ignored, nor can millenia-long patterns be compared climatologically with the last decade or the last century. It is precisely why meteorologists use averages – because temperatures at a given time can fluctuate wildly from year-to-year.
    OK, so 2005 was the warmest year on record, meaning since we began keeping records around 1880. But we only have quantifiable data since 1880 – everything else is just a guess.
    I guess my biggest problem with global warming is how easily it is erased – in 1992, the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo filled the atmosphere with ash and lowered temperatures around the world 0.5 degrees celsius for six months. The entire amount of climate change measured in the 20th century was only 1 degree celsius. So one single volcanic eruption erased almost half of a century of man’s destructiveness for half a year.
    Global warming is a theory that happens to fit the facts. History is replete with theories that happen to fit the facts.
    Does that mean we shouldn’t reduce the human footprint on the earth? By all means, we should be good stewards of the earth. Don’t misunderstand me on that. It’s just that “global warming” has become dogmatic, while the jury is still out.

  25. CP

    of all the impassioned arguments and empty rhetoric bandied back and forth on this board today, chaircrusher seems pretty on the nose. the comment after his seems fairly mean-spirited. I don’t get that attitude at all. sure, we’re all gonna die. one doesn’t need to see autopsies to know that, one just needs to have been born. why keep destroying our planet while we’re here, and deriding those who actually care enough to try and do something about it? really, the only agenda they’re pushing is the basic human survival instinct/impulse to avoid suffering, by which I don’t mean the financial well-being of whatever corporate interests may label global warming a hoax, or justifications for an unjustifiable war.
    but like ian, I obviously don’t get it.
    ps — also, there’ve been a few comments about the message being right but the messenger wrong. both in regards to ian and gore. I’m not defending either of them, I just don’t get this logic. it makes me no possible sense to me that ian for some reason shouldn’t frame arguments a certain way, even though a person who said this also said he or she agreed with the argument. I’m calling no one out here, I’m just confused. can someone please explain?

  26. Beth

    As far as Gore goes, I said it was a shame he was the messenger because conservatives have such an allergic reaction to him–ergo, they feel justified in saying that he’s spouting political bullshit simply because he’s Al Gore. (Disclaimer: I love Al Gore. If I could have voted for him twice, I would have.) But if he were less polarizing, people who don’t love him might listen to his environmental discourse. My parents, for example, detest everything he stands for–don’t ask me to explain; it appears to be kneejerk–but they caught a Tom Brokaw special last week making many of the same points about global warming that “Inconvenient Truth” makes. And since they love Tom Brokaw, and he’s a journalist who’s never had any political irons in the fire, they paid attention to what he had to say, and they gave it credence. So in terms of bringing over people who don’t “believe” in global warming, Tom Brokaw was a more effective messenger than Al Gore.
    As for Ian not being the right messenger? Heck if I know. As far as I’m concerned, he’s effecting positive change right here on this blog. As I mentioned last week, my husband and I recently switched over to Con Ed’s green power source, and we’re hoping to persuade our building to do so as well. That idea was birthed right here on xtcian.

  27. CP

    the credibility factor/association of someone with the sharks or the jets or whatever the side you’re not on is. ok. but this is bigger than that, no?
    thank you, beth, for answering. I hereby thank anyone else in advance for doing the same if so inclined.
    “when I was a boy, we had a tobacco farm…”

  28. Ian

    Zel said “in 1992, the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo filled the atmosphere with ash and … erased almost half of a century of man’s destructiveness for half a year.”
    Not to be doing anyone’s homework here, but volcanic eruptions of this kind (and Krakatoa in 1883, Tambora in 1815) DO have a short-term effect of lowering temperatures for up to three years, but the amount of aerosols involved destroy the ozone layer for YEARS after that, making global warming even worse.
    And Beth, that’s awesome!

  29. xuxE

    i think the answer to the original question about why conservatives don’t hear the message is a really important one to any liberal who ACTUALLY cares about the issue itself vs. winning the point or winning the election.
    i think for the issue to really take hold, it has to transcend party lines.
    it’s kind of fascinating to me that we liberal types can’t see our own bullshit. granted, without the thick veil of religion and homophobia and protectionism and all the more gruesome baggage the conservatives bring to the table, it’s still worth assuming they are at least moderately rational and normal type people, in order to get past the rhetoric and come to agreement.
    (i do blame the conservatives for changing political discourse into a total joke because of their stronghold on talk radio, but that’s another subject – the real question at hand now is how to cut through it and get back to real issues.)
    i think the left wing folks have got to redefine their motivations because being anti-bush is becoming kind of a core value and all that does is polarize people. i mean, let’s face it, some people are not risk takers, and the idea of wholesale change and paradigm shifting is not going to be embraced by people who feel they are being attacked.
    i highly highly doubt that all the conservatives are suddenly going to throw up their hands and say “oh well, y’all were right all along!”
    that’s kind of why i am sick of the democrats and their pandering to the anti-bush sentiment. you have to realize how the left wing political machine looks and sounds to a conservative – really. i think it looks just like the photo negative of the republican machine. i have seriously yet to hear anyone on the left indict al gore for the hedge fund he started with david blood from goldman sachs and the refusal to acknowledge this type of hipocrasy drives me crazy. does anyone realize there is profit to be made from the “green” story and is anybody on the left who cares about those conflicts of interest? if not, then why is that?
    is it really any wonder the conservatives think we are full of shit?
    i just think if we are serious about making change and getting the issues solved, we have to shed the party propaganda and truly reconcile straight up on the issues.

  30. Claverack Weekender

    xuxE, excellent comments. Let’s start a centrist third party that actually tries to make progress on issues that are important to people and pushes the wedge issues down to the local level.
    Also please note that the plural of “y’all” is “all y’all.”

  31. alan

    “That’s not choosing a position, that’s just choosing sides.”
    With all due respect Ian, isn’t that what most extreme liberals do as well? It’s easy to think everyone falls into one group or the other, especially on boards like these, but I think there are still a lot of people that fall in the middle. If I had to hang a label on myself I would say I fall about 2/3 towards the conservative side, but I do believe global warming is occuring to some degree. I also thinkwe are slowly changing, and what some people expect are immediate answers to things which we still don’t completely understand. Right now I have other concerns that worry me a lot more than global warming, as should most rational people.

  32. Matt

    Chaircrusher, no offense, but your argument is hardly concrete either. There’s plenty unknown about the earth’s climate, and those who pretend they know are lying.
    “The conservatives and corporate interests who want to have a ‘debate’ over global warming are using the same tactics of the ‘Intelligent Design’ crap-artists.”
    The environmental movement, made up of many a crap-artist themselves and who want to stop any debate on the science from happening, also have interests in play. I wish people would quit ignoring that (I know not all here have).
    “But you’re completely ignoring a huge component of the debate — things like reducing the environmental impact of the things we do are good things in and of themselves. Improving fuel economy, consuming less electricity, making industrial processes more material and energy efficient — these are all things that are intrinsically worth doing.”
    When did I ignore that? I’ve indicated support for all those things. My point is merely that the human contribution to global warming is greatly exaggerated.
    “The root source of all this global warming debunking is corporations who make their money from non-sustainable use of resources.”
    See my point above. Advocates of human-caused global warming are doing what they’re doing because there’s money in it, too, and lots and lots of power — if they can convince us all that we’re doomed unless we do as they say.
    Here’s some reading for the dissenters:
    “For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).
    “Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society’s continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
    “In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say “how silly to judge climate change over such a short period”. Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.
    “Does something not strike you as odd here? That industrial carbon dioxide is not the primary cause of earth’s recent decadal-scale temperature changes doesn’t seem at all odd to many thousands of independent scientists. They have long appreciated – ever since the early 1990s, when the global warming bandwagon first started to roll behind the gravy train of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – that such short-term climate fluctuations are chiefly of natural origin. Yet the public appears to be largely convinced otherwise. How is this possible?
    “Since the early 1990s, the columns of many leading newspapers and magazines, worldwide, have carried an increasing stream of alarmist letters and articles on hypothetical, human-caused climate change. Each such alarmist article is larded with words such as “if”, “might”, “could”, “probably”, “perhaps”, “expected”, “projected” or “modelled” – and many involve such deep dreaming, or ignorance of scientific facts and principles, that they are akin to nonsense.
    “The problem here is not that of climate change per se, but rather that of the sophisticated scientific brainwashing that has been inflicted on the public, bureaucrats and politicians alike. Governments generally choose not to receive policy advice on climate from independent scientists. Rather, they seek guidance from their own self-interested science bureaucracies and senior advisers, or from the IPCC itself. No matter how accurate it may be, cautious and politically non-correct science advice is not welcomed in Westminster, and nor is it widely reported.
    “Marketed under the imprimatur of the IPCC, the bladder-trembling and now infamous hockey-stick diagram that shows accelerating warming during the 20th century – a statistical construct by scientist Michael Mann and co-workers from mostly tree ring records – has been a seminal image of the climate scaremongering campaign. Thanks to the work of a Canadian statistician, Stephen McIntyre, and others, this graph is now known to be deeply flawed. There are other reasons, too, why the public hears so little in detail from those scientists who approach climate change issues rationally, the so-called climate sceptics. Most are to do with intimidation against speaking out, which operates intensely on several parallel fronts.
    “First, most government scientists are gagged from making public comment on contentious issues, their employing organisations instead making use of public relations experts to craft carefully tailored, frisbee-science press releases. Second, scientists are under intense pressure to conform with the prevailing paradigm of climate alarmism if they wish to receive funding for their research. Third, members of the Establishment have spoken declamatory words on the issue, and the kingdom’s subjects are expected to listen.
    “On the alarmist campaign trail, the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King, is thus reported as saying that global warming is so bad that Antarctica is likely to be the world’s only habitable continent by the end of this century. Warming devotee and former Chairman of Shell, Lord [Ron] Oxburgh, reportedly agrees with another rash statement of King’s, that climate change is a bigger threat than terrorism. And goodly Archbishop Rowan Williams, who self-evidently understands little about the science, has warned of “millions, billions” of deaths as a result of global warming and threatened Mr Blair with the wrath of the climate God unless he acts. By betraying the public’s trust in their positions of influence, so do the great and good become the small and silly.
    “Two simple graphs provide needed context, and exemplify the dynamic, fluctuating nature of climate change. The first is a temperature curve for the last six million years, which shows a three-million year period when it was several degrees warmer than today, followed by a three-million year cooling trend which was accompanied by an increase in the magnitude of the pervasive, higher frequency, cold and warm climate cycles. During the last three such warm (interglacial) periods, temperatures at high latitudes were as much as 5 degrees warmer than today’s. The second graph shows the average global temperature over the last eight years, which has proved to be a period of stasis.
    “The essence of the issue is this. Climate changes naturally all the time, partly in predictable cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid episodic shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate that our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of benignly warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90 per cent of the last two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and economic damage, than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming.
    “The British Government urgently needs to recast the sources from which it draws its climate advice. The shrill alarmism of its public advisers, and the often eco-fundamentalist policy initiatives that bubble up from the depths of the Civil Service, have all long since been detached from science reality. Intern-ationally, the IPCC is a deeply flawed organisation, as acknowledged in a recent House of Lords report, and the Kyoto Protocol has proved a costly flop. Clearly, the wrong horses have been backed.
    “As mooted recently by Tony Blair, perhaps the time has come for Britain to join instead the new Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6), whose six member countries are committed to the development of new technologies to improve environmental outcomes. There, at least, some real solutions are likely to emerge for improving energy efficiency and reducing pollution. Informal discussions have already begun about a new AP6 audit body, designed to vet rigorously the science advice that the Partnership receives, including from the IPCC. Can Britain afford not to be there?”
    More insight in the links below:,20876,19835476-31478,00.html

  33. KTS

    To set the record straight, as any self-respecting Texan knows, “y’all” is appropriate in both the singular and plural forms, as in, “How y’all doing?”, expressed to a person or persons.
    As Confucius is said to have said, “The first step is to call things by their right names.”
    As Lao Tzu is said to have said, “It is impossible to confer with those of a different way.”
    As I say, “To hell with a centrist third party. This administration is a monstrous lot, who in a different time, would have be tarred and feathered and rode out of town on a rail.”

  34. Zel M.

    Three cheers for xuxE! I think that cuts to the heart of the matter as well as anything I have heard.
    Part of the answer to Ian’s original question about the apparent nonchalance of the right toward global warming is that it has become so dogmatic, or at least that it has been reduced to, as someone said, a campaign issue. You know, “Bush lied, pro-abortion, global warming, gay marriage, yada yada yada…” It blends into the background noise.
    And thanks also to xuxE for whipping out the bullshit detector. Believe me, there’s plenty enough on both sides of the aisle to go around.
    My sincere hope is that the liberals, leftists, and/or Democrats will find someone who can offer a legitimate alternative to whatever the Republicans will put up. Best case – both parties choose moderate, centrist candidates who can speak well for both the radical and conservative wings of their respective parties and give the American voters a true choice (and a hint for you Dems – Hillary ain’t it, y’all). Otherwise, there will just be more divisiveness as the left panders to the kooks and the right panders to the hard-core base.

  35. Lindsay

    Nice to see some fellow travellers. Hi, Jody.
    Matt writes: “One ice shelf is melting — many headlines. Another is growing — move along, nothing to see here”
    Another incorrect right-wing talking point that is easily dismissed.
    Nothing but regurgitated talking points from the Fox News playbooks, as per usual with him.
    It makes me sad that more of the supposedly liberal folks here don’t often muster the energy to refute these points. I more often read all about how polite “Matt” is. The man’s opinions are in lock-step with the extreme right wing party line and his tone is completely condescending. Who cares if he has a veneer of civility? He’s a tool.
    The next time he slips in a little point about how there is no “right to privacy in the Constitution” or something else that seems innocent, google the phrase. You might be shocked by what he is really talking about.
    But, ya know, some of these right-wingers just might have valid points about unions and Danish cartoons. After all, some of them *are* awfully polite.

  36. Lindsay

    Oh, nevermind. I see that Kent and Michelle, among others, kept fighting the good fight in the next day’s comments.

  37. Matt

    There’s nothing condescending about Lindsay’s post. I came back here to find a posted link and found this nonsense instead. A few pints for the record:
    1) Lindsay’s NYT link says NOTHING to the point how ice shelves naturally recede and grow, a they are in fact doing.
    2) I’ve never made an argument about the right to privacy, which exists in case law and not explicitly in the constitution. (I agree with it, by the way.)
    3) Lindsay is a bit unhinged in her own politics to be calling anyone a tool.


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