Sorry for the long hiatus. Other priorities have been taking my attention; after a concentrated obsessive bout on the Peter Gleick “trial”, I’ve experienced a not-atypical mental backlash.
One article I read today seemed very worthy of posting, though: From David Roberts: Watch the climate conversation run aground. He describes a recent debate in the Iowa state legislature concerning climate change, and sums up as follows:
Hogg and Johnson are both a little confused, though obviously Hogg much less — and much less detrimentally — so. But neither perspective is the one that does most damage to the prospects of progress.
No, the most dangerous perspective is expressed at the end of the rambling and fruitless hour-long debate, by Republican Sen. Randy Feenstra:
“Honestly, on that subject I think we should just agree to disagree because it’s not going to get us anywhere.”
This is the climate conversation in miniature. The problem is raised. Conservatives forecast economic doom. The economics show that we can do a great deal at comparatively moderate cost (certainly moderate relative to the cost of climate change impacts), but it’s very difficult to overcome fear with promises. So advocates make dramatic, often exaggerated claims about proximate impacts. Deniers dismiss the science altogether. And then people who aren’t committed to one “side” or another get sick of it and want to move on — to “agree to disagree.”
This is why conservative deniers have a built-in advantage on climate. They don’t have to win the argument. They just have to keep arguing until everyone gets sick of it.