Putting the Climate Change Cart Before the Horse

Let’s say that you and our spouse are arguing over family finances. You say: “I tracked our expenditures over the last 3 months and we’re over $200 in the red each month. We’ve gotta do something!”. To that, your spouse responds: “What do you suggest we cut? Get rid of a car? Dancing for Mary? Tutoring for John? What?” and refuses to discuss the matter further.

Who was more rational in the exchange? You of course. The fact that the solutions may all be difficult does not change reality; A reality that, presumably, must be addressed. Your spouse used distaste of the available options to avoid a discussion of reality.

I just watched part of a show that I used to like back when it was new: The McLaughlin Report. IMO, these days, the show is pretty tired and worn out. But I digress….

The gang engaged in a shouting match over man’s impact on climate change. The loudest shouter was Pat Buchanan who made THE CLASSIC mistake that climate change deniers always make, either consciously or unconsciously. He combined two very separate issues:

a. Is man affecting (accelerating) climate change?
b. If so, what should society do about it?

Every time a member of the panel shouted something like: “How can you ignore the opinions of climate scientists?” Buchanan shouted something back like: “Do you know how to solve the problem? Do you want Cap and Trade?”.

In that debate, Buchanan played the role of your spouse in the example above. No matter how many times another panelist tried to get him to acknowledge the dominant opinion of the scientific community, Buchanan found a way ignore that reality. Usually, as did the spouse above, he jumped right over scientific reality to sow fear of the potential solutions. Another tactic was to spout the fact that most Americans either have no opinion regarding man’s impact on climate change or they don’t believe it. As if public opinion is a good measure of scientific reality.

I don’t know where Mr. Buchanan learned to solve problems, but where I learned that my instructors stressed the need to separate analysis of reality from decision making. Reality must be understood dispassionately, without consideration of ramifications and before decisions are made. Decision making without a clear understanding of reality is a sure formula for disaster.

This refusal to examine the reality of climate change for fear of the solutions that may follow – cap and trade, tax breaks for renewable energy, etc. – is the mistake, conscious or unconscious, made by most climate science deniers.

If man is accelerating climate change – and virtually all climate scientists say that he is – then that must be acknowledged. Full stop. Then and only then can we have a productive discussion of what should be done.

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