Climate Skeptics Misunderstand Us, Too

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So recently, I’ve watched a few videos from the Heartland Institute conference on “Restoring the Scientific Method”—and it has been a fascinating experience.

I point you, for instance, to this session on public policy, and especially the Q&A starting at minute 56. (Also watch Marc Morano from minute 38 to minute 56, the dude is nothing if not entertaining.) Once the audience questions start coming for the panel, I was rather surprised to hear that most were basically about…uh, communism. And in response, the panelists—and especially Christopher Horner—were quite affirmative that the real reason that we, the “left,” want to restrict greenhouse gas emissions is that we want to hobble economies, redistribute wealth, and restrict individual freedoms.

You can believe this is about the climate, and many people do,” said Horner. “But it’s not a reasonable belief.” Horner went on to argue that “it’s probably about what they’ve claimed they really want.” For many “luminaries” of the environment movement, Horner continued, “economic growth is not the cure, it’s the disease.”

Now, Morano and Horner have various pieces of “evidence” that they use to support their assessment—including out of context quotations. But I, too, have heard some environmentalists attack growth, and say that it is the real problem.

However, I do not believe in any sense that this is the mainstream view of those who want a cap-and-trade bill, whether they are President Obama, or Democratic senators, or the many corporations who supported such legislation—like GE and Duke Energy. Without economic growth, these companies could not maintain rising share prices, nor could they keep reporting rising earnings and annual dividend increases for their stockholders.

I can also speak for myself. If there’s anything I don’t like, it’s extremes—including on the left. I very much want companies to thrive and succeed—who else is going to create jobs?—but to me, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be regulated. I actually do believe that they should be regulated as little as is possible–so long as it is enough to preserve public health and the environment.  

Moreover, it’s not surprising that I think this way—people of my generation in the U.S. don’t even have any direct experience with communism. It hasn’t been a significant force on the U.S. left for quite a long time. It’s something we’ve read about, certainly, but not something with which we associate.

So exactly what environmental left are Heartland acolytes talking about here? As far as I can tell, they’re simply shadowboxing.

I’ve often written about how those on my side do not understand the motivations of climate skeptics. They aren’t just driven by a quest for the corporate dole, for instance—they’re strong individualists who fear government control over choices and freedoms. I believe that ideology is therefore more powerful in driving climate skepticism than is money.

But it’s quite apparent that anti-environmentalists, like Horner, don’t understand us, either. We didn’t cook the science, and we don’t hate jobs, either. We just think that, because global warming is real, and because there are solutions to the problem will ultimately also help the economy, it’s a very good idea to kill two birds with one stone.

But now, having now cleared up the record, I’m quite sure that we won’t see this error any more in the future.

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