Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why has the Global Warming Debate Turned Political?

Why has Global Warming become a political issue more than a scientific issue?

Before going in to this, I want to say that recently, political parties on both sides have admitted that global warming is a man made problem. In the last US election, Democrats and Republicans both pledged to do something about Global Warming. However, the rank-and file conservatives, and the conservative political commentators on TV and in the press, have generally continued to call global warming a hoax.

With very few exceptions, global warming deniers are conservative. Those few liberals who deny global warming would need to be looked at on a case by case basis, but I suspect that most of them would turn out to be false liberals, or somewhat confused about what liberals stand for.

So why do conservatives call global warming a hoax?

Conservatives in the USA tend to be more religious than liberals, and are guided more by the bible than by scientists, especially when those scientists deny God's creations and deny the literal truth of every word of the bible. Conservatives sometimes refer to Global Warming as an alternate form of religion.

In the USA, conservative has come to mean "opposed to governmental control and opposed to taxes", especially since the rich are taxed more heavily than the poor. One of the most obvious solutions to global warming would be to use government regulations, oversight and taxation. So Conservatives would prefer that global warming be a hoax.

From an article by Richard S. Lindzen 1992, who is one of the most respected global warming skeptics, (and coincidentally a "smoking causes lung cancer" skeptic and heavy smoker)

"As Aaron Wildavsky, professor of political science at Berkeley, has quipped, "global warming'' is the mother of all environmental scares. Wildavsky's view is worth quoting. "Warming (and warming alone), through its primary antidote of withdrawing carbon from production and consumption, is capable of realizing the environmentalist's dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population's eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.'' In many ways Wildavsky's observation does not go far enough. The point is that carbon dioxide is vitally central to industry, transportation, modern life, and life in general. It has been joked that carbon dioxide controls would permit us to inhale as much as we wish; only exhaling would be controlled. The remarkable centrality of carbon dioxide means that dealing with the threat of warming fits in with a great variety of preexisting agendas--some legitimate, some less so: energy efficiency, reduced dependence on Middle Eastern oil, dissatisfaction with industrial society (neopastoralism), international competition, governmental desires for enhanced revenues (carbon taxes), and bureaucratic desires for enhanced power."

Conservatives have realized that any money put into global warming may be withdrawn from military budgets.

American conservatives have a negative view of the UN and of international cooperation. International cooperation is almost a necessity in combating global warming. And some transfer of wealth to developing nations may be required, which is generally opposed by conservatives.

Conservatives understand that to combat global warming, we must conserve energy, meaning reducing wasteful consumption and wretched excess. This would obviously impact rich conservatives far more than middle class liberals.

Conservatives, almost by definition, do not like to change, like to keep things the way they are. If we are going to do something about global warming, big changes are needed. Conservatives will generally oppose big changes.

Here are some examples of liberal opinions and goals that may make them more likely to do something about global warming than conservatives.
  • Taxing the rich and profitable corporations is necessary
  • Scientists can tell us more about climate change than the bible or religious prophesies
  • We should live more frugally, conserve more, reduce waste
  • The gap between rich and poor, between rich countries and poor countries should be decreased
  • Reduced military spending, other than what is strictly needed for home defence
  • Making the world a better place
  • Reduced dependence on foreign oil (hence foreign military invasions)
  • More government oversight of corporations
  • Saving the environment
So, inside the scientific community, global warming is debated along scientific lines, but in the press and on TV the debate generally falls into a political alignment, with conservatives far more likely to call the threat of Global Warming a hoax.

Pictures: I photoshopped two pictures to illustrate the impact of global warming at the North Pole. Can you tell if it is winter or summer? (Hint, the sun is up) And what time of day it is? All time zones converge at this point, so take your pick.


  1. Why is it political? Because old people vote right and young people vote left. Old people tend to be Climate skeptics and young people tend to be Believers.

    This is why it's politial. It's about the left, control of 3rd world countries and huge sums of money; In the Copenhagen teraty they wanted us to give 1% of GDP. That's $150 billion or $450 per person per year forever (the target is 2% in 20 years).

    According to the treaty the money would be given to underdevloped nations to allow them to convert to a green economy. The treaty says it would also be used to build brand new UN offices in every nation on earth. Now doesn't that sound like a world government, paid for by you? Well in an interview during the Copenhagen conference Ban-Ki moon said that's exactly what they were doing.

    Also what would the UN IPCC want in exchange for the money? The treaty does not say but I can guarentee they will want their pound of flesh. I don't know what a country's freedom and soverignty is worth but it was for sale in Copenhagen. Fortunatly the underdeveloped nations realized that the strings attached to the money were too much to bear and they didn't sign the treaty. This is why it's political, because the greens want us to foot the bill to set up UN offices all over the world to control how huge sums of our money will be spent. And do we really want this?

    All in the name of saving the planet.

  2. I would like to have an honest answer to the question of global warming without political bias getting in the way. Then I could make up my mind with a clear conscience about what I am willing to give up for a solution, and what I think my grandchildren and great-grandchildren might prefer.

    For many conservatives, the answer to the global warming question is irrelevant, because they would rather die as free Hummer driving Americans, than die as slaves to the United Nations World Socialist Government.

    Maybe 300 years from now, my great-great-great grandchildren might actually be living under such a UN World Government and be shocked to learn in history class about the poverty, war, starvation, genocide and primitive cultures of the 20th and 21st centuries.

  3. There has been a gradual, but perceptible, shift in the rhetoric we hear from the right with respect to global warming.

    The evidence for global warming has become undeniable (except to those extreme whack-jobs) and the thrust now is in terms of how much of that warming is anthropogenic ... i.e. not due to Milankovitch cycles, Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles total solar irradiance, water vapour, thermal expansion of the oceans, or conspiracies between the Red Chinese and space aliens.

    If, in fact, global warming is a 'natural' thing, we can, with impunity, continue to allow Big Oil to rape and pillage our planet, continue to encourage childless couples to inhabit 4,500 sq.ft. McMansions, allow the sexually insecure to continue driving their behemoths ... in other words, 'business as usual,' the basic objective of the right.

    According to the proponents of that view, there is also oil aplenty, and no problem at all with laissez-faire, so the emerging nations should also be free to 'improve' their economies and their lifestyle to the levels we enjoy in North America.

    Reasonable people disagree. The evidence is that oil (and gas) have peaked, that a significant proportion of global warming is, in fact, anthropogenic, that we must deal with the expectations of emerging economies in a rational and productive manner.

    Your commenter, Anonymous, writes, 'Because old people vote right and young people vote left.' What a display of oversimplification and lack of subtlety! (The balance of that comment, of course, is dismissible as the same old tired 'World Government' conspiracy cant.)

    Rather than seeing the climate crisis as an opportunity to develop exciting new businesses, to improve the quality of urban life, to reduce the strategic exposure of the U.S. to unreliable sources of energy, the conservatives want to bury their heads in the sand and keep on with 'business as usual.'

  4. I aim to misbehave!!!!