This Mark Steyn article (Return to Towel Mountain) took me to this question of Jonathan H. Adler:
“What does it take to convince libertarians and conservatives that climate change is a problem?”
While I don’t know if I can speak for libertarians and conservatives in general, I can certainly try to explain what it would take to convince this libertarian. I am saying this with a small caveat: if you read my previous post, it should be clear to you that it is highly unlikely that I will ever become an acolyte of the church of warm. The answer to Jonathan’s question should be simple: Logic & CONVINCING EVIDENCE.
Since the evidence is missing on many levels, the only question I can answer is what it would take to take the warmists seriously. At this point, I even have to question their sincerity. I can most definitely question their attitude and their decency but maybe, the only question we should have for them is:
What wold it take to convince liberals that climate change is NOT a problem?
With that, here is my answer to Jonathan’s question:
The most fascinating aspect of your question is you asking it at all (with a straight face I assume), but apparently, without the thought that you may be wrong crossing your mind. What is most fascinating is how contemptuously you can dismiss the possibility that the ‘sceptics’, the ‘deniers’ may actually have something to say or – God forbid – they may actually be right. Your attitude reminds me of my 16 year old nephew’s, who went home to his mother in despair with the same question, ‘what would it take him to convince me?’ He had no arguments. Just like you, he expected me to accept his position just because he felt so strongly about it. After he failed answering any of my questions.
Can you contemplate for just a few seconds what makes you right? You are a lawyer, not a climate scientist. Just like me, you have to rely on your judgment. What are the sources you trust? Can you name one without a skin in the game? How much time did you spend examining the evidence of the so-called sceptics? Where did you find a “preponderance of evidence” for your position? The evidence, it seems, goes against, not for, your argument. What is your position anyway? That some warming is happening? That a lot of warming is happening? I suspect that most conservatives and libertarians would agree with you that some warming is happening and even that humans may be responsible for a portion of that warming. So what? What would that agreement mean to you? What would you expect the consequence to be? Would the acknowledgment be enough for you?
Somehow, I doubt it. You want us to agree because you want us to be part of the policy debate. Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward the table where we can start discussing what to do about it and that is where the problems start. We do not have much to discuss. I, as a libertarian, already have policy suggestions:
- Stop government funding of AGW research.
- Stop wasting time and money on international treaties about climate change.
- Cancel all subsidies to any kind of energy production and research and let the market sort out winners and losers.
- Make sure that tort law is robust enough to handle cases of real damage.
- Remove regulatory obstacles from the building of 4th generation Nuclear reactors.
- If warming resumes and creates problems, deal with them on a case by case basis.
(Using the free market to find solutions as much as possible. In one word: ADAPT!
You must agree that it is a fairly comprehensive yet simple and an impeccably libertarian position.
Doing nothing IS a policy decision and if harm is all you can do, then it is a damn good one. Goklany (a libertarian) and Lomborg (a liberal) agree that AGW may be a problem, they just don’t think that it is a particularly big one and they both think that wasting billions (if not trillions) of dollars on schemes that will only make us poorer is not a good idea.
I find their position perfectly acceptable. What is your problem with it? They do not ‘deny’ anything they just have a different answer, which is, by the way, already enough to generate vicious attacks on Lomborg. This is just the latest.
To get back to the question: What is your position? What would you want Libertarians and conservatives to actually agree with?
I must also ask what makes anybody think that libertarians and conservatives do not think that climate change is a problem? Even I think that it is.
I think that climate change and energy policy are the defining problems of our age.
Not the fact of global temperature changes (which are insignificant, not yet predictable and beyond our control), not energy availability (which we have plenty from a wide variety of sources) but the politics that surrounds it:
The correctly identified polarization of opinions on the subject and the partisan politics it leads to.
The prostitution of science.
The uncritical pimping of the tainted results by the media.
The attempts of the political classes to use it as an excuse to take control of every aspect of our lives.
The sleazy and underhanded attempts to do away with democracy on a global level.
The bullying of well financed front-groups.
The despicable hypocrisy of its celebrity proponents…..
….. and I could go on.
The climate is not a problem, but the political circus around it most definitely is.
The only interesting question you raise is the one about the strong and predictable division on the issue clearly along political lines. The issue indeed seems to be polarizing, but not more so than any other. This one is just in the focus of our attention. I will offer you an answer to this question of polarization in my next post.
So finally, here are my answers to the question of what would it take to make me take the warmists seriously:
Stopping the hysterics
Science should be cool and detached. Propagandists like Al Gore and David Suzuki preaching blatant stupidities can only turn people like me away. It was the hysterical stupidity of Helen Caldecott that turned my attention to nuclear energy some thirty years ago. Emotional stupidity can only increase my thirst for reason and common sense.
Stopping the litigations
Michael Mann has several cases running against various critics such as Mark Steyn. His case is expected to be a landmark decision about free speech. I cannot take any scientist seriously whose only argument is “shut up or I sue you!” If the movement would collectively shun Michael Mann, that would definitely make me pay attention.
Stopping the bullying and the sneering dismissal of any dissent
The movement has a few apostates such as Patrick Moore and some who were ‘excommunicated’ such as Bjorn Lomborg. In universities, most opponents of global warming theories are not engaged, just bullied. It is difficult to have a conversation if one side refuses to participate.
Opponents of the warmist agenda are all ready to debate, to discuss their arguments, to present the scientific evidence. NOBODY on the other side is ready to make their case in honest debates with them.
When I start seeing Al Gore, David Suzuki or Michael Mann debating the likes of Christopher Moncton, Don Easterbrook or Mark Morano and WINNING with incontrovertible evidence, I will start considering changes in my position. The fact that such debates are not happening is the clearest sign that the warmists are lacking confidence in their evidence.
Divorcing the communist agenda
Divorcing Marxism. Divorcing agenda 21. Consideration of market solutions instead of, or at least alongside, heavy handed government and international interventions. The Marxist core of the movement is getting increasingly transparent. Marxist dictatorships have abysmal environmental records. The more statist the answers get, the worst the outcome will be.
Showing some concerns for humanity
Holding back the development in truly destitute regions of the planet is not humane. Indoor air quality is one of the worst health hazards in poor countries. Natural gas would be a major improvement. Solar panels on their roofs is an unaffordable pipe-dream.
Showing some concern for wildlife
Windmills around the world are instruments of industrial scale birdicide. I would like to see the intellectual of children of Rachel Carson taking ownership of the problem they created. They do not even have the guts to acknowledge it.
Embracing positive solutions
Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (and 4th generation nuclear reactors in general) could easily get us carbon free within a few decades. I will start to take the warmists more seriously when they embrace nuclear energy.
Placing politics in its proper place
…which is the arbitration of disputes and the enforcement of their resolutions. When the environmentalists will stop trespassing, vandalizing and harassing energy companies that are doing perfectly legal things I will start taking them more seriously. Being stupid is one thing, criminal activity is another. I cannot take criminals seriously.
Allowing the market to find solutions
Any degree of market friendliness will get my attention.
The recognition of self interest
We are all driven by self-interest and the environmental movement is no exception. Enormous amount of money is spent on climate change projects and its advocates.
It would be decent if the people making a living from creating a hysteria would stop pretending that they are only doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.
Stopping the demonizing of the free market, capitalism, technology and even humanity as a whole.
We are not a plague on this planet but its most successful creation. The technologically advanced free market democracies have solved more problems than any other in our planet’s history. Free market capitalism is the solution, not the cause of our problems. Once the warmists understand that, I can start taking them a bit more seriously.
Anthropomorphizing the planet
The planet is not a fuzzy-wuzzy toy needing our protection. Any discussion should be about us, humans, and our needs. How to satisfy those needs should be the focus of our discussions, not how to suppress them.
Considering alternative theories
I named a few in my previous post.
The sun, the oceans, the magnetic field, the role of clouds, etc.
Proper placement and weighting the role of CO2 among other factors influencing the climate
The warmists ignore everything but CO2. They cannot be taken seriously without considering the place of CO2 among other factors.
Considering alternative solutions
Such as nuclear energy. Bettering our CO2 equation by moving to natural gas from coal. When the movement stops rejecting partial, but feasible and beneficial solutions, they will gain some credibility.
Considering the cost of any actual proposal and doing comparative cost/benefit calculations.
Everything has a cost and warmists behave like a bunch of spoiled brats without any consideration for the cost of their proposals.
A single computer model that comes close to actual observations.
The whole so called science is built on computer models. So far they all proved to be inaccurate predicting anything in this century.
Honesty when explaining the failures of predictions.
If a prediction proves to be wrong, it is dropped from discussion. Only critics of AGW theories bring it back into the conversation. If the warmists would be a little more upfront explaining their failures that would go a long way toward gaining credibility.
Acknowledging problems with the theories
You are quoting Ronald Bailey:
“To restate: The existence of man-made warming does not mandate any particular policies. So back to the headline question: If generally rising temperatures, decreasing diurnal temperature differences, melting glacial and sea ice, smaller snow extent, stronger rainstorms, and warming oceans are not enough to persuade you that man-made climate is occurring, what evidence would be?”
To repeat: Temperatures are not rising generally for the past eighteen years (or do so far below the predicted rate). (See graphs of actual measurements in my previous post)
The Diurnal Temperature Range theory is credibly rebutted here, Sea ice is not decreasing (it is going up and down). After a few years of decrease, the Arctic winter ice cover recovered in 2014 , Antarctic Ice extent reached a new record in 2014 , Glaciers are growing in Chile and the Indian Himalayas; the relationship between Ocean temperatures and AGW is far from being proven; rainstorms are not stronger, extreme weather events in the past few years are below average; in Canada, we had the two harshest Winters in recent memory, in some cases breaking 137 year old cold records, and even if none of these were the case, the fact that some warming is going on still does not prove that human activity had anything to do with it.
We live in the age of the internet. What would it take to convince…… well, anybody…. That they cannot just get away with bullshit?
In my next post I will try to explain why some people will still try.
In the end, the answer to your question is simple:
Credible evidence, less hysteria