GOP Climate Stance Could Have Been Different

August 4th, 2011 at 3:16 pm | 19 Comments |

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Citing an essay by D.R. Tucker, Peter Sinclair asks: What if American conservatives had followed their British counterparts and not allowed partisan animus against Al Gore to distract them from the scientific evidence on climate change?

Imagine if Reagan had delivered speeches similar to Margaret Thatcher’s 1989 and 1990 speeches on combating climate change, suggesting that this was a cause beyond the threshold of partisan politics, and that the threat of a warming planet imperiled conservatives and progressives equally. What if Reagan had heeded Dr. James Hansen’s June 1988 call for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and encouraged members of his party to seek alternate energy routes?

Would conservatives have dismissed “Ronaldus Magnus” as a crank, or would they have listened to his words?

Reagan signed the Montreal Protocol to phase out CFCs because he recognized that all the libertarian ideology in the world doesn’t mean much when the world is being damaged. For all the controversies about Reagan’s environmental record, it’s clear that with regard to the dangers of CFCs, he recognized that scientific facts were more important than political theories.

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • Danny_K

    The influence of the oil companies has a lot more to do with the Republican denial of climate change than dislike of Al Gore. They’ve put a lot of time and money into making climate change a radioactive topic for Republicans, and now are systematically moving the Republican consensus further and further to the right. You can see the power of this lobby by the parade of apparently sensible presidential candidates apologizing publically for believing in climate change.

    • WTBoy

      There is an instructive example by looking at the history of the Catholic church. It has always resisted science, to its sometimes peril. Galileo was imprisoned by the church for the heresy that the Earth was not the center of the Universe. The Church had no shortage of its own “scientists” contrary to Galileo.

      The Republican party will only increase the damage to its credibility by continuing to argue that the overwhelming scientific evidence should be ignored. There is no time like the present.

  • LFC

    I’m just waiting for right-wingers to deny that the hole in the ozone layer was man-made … or maybe even deny that it exists.

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    “Would conservatives have dismissed “Ronaldus Magnus” as a crank, or would they have listened to his words?”

    No.

    They would have ignored his actions & words, just as they did on his repeatedly raising taxes out of concern for the deficit, his call for a standing army for the UN, etc. Republicans venerate a cardboard cutout of Ronald Reagan, not the actual historical figure.

  • valkayec

    If Reagan had campaigned on climate change, I believe conservatives would have followed along behind him and accepted it. He was that popular. Moreover, it’s estimated that if Reagan had continued Carter’s push for clean energy and no foreign oil, the nation now would be in a situation much like Brazil. Wouldn’t that be nice. And think of how many trillions of dollars would not have been transferred out of the nation and how many more manufacturing businesses we might have.

  • Graychin

    Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

    Wasn’t it Ronaldus Magnus who ordered Carter’s solar panels removed from the White house roof? R.M. is responsible for much of the science-denying direction of his party today.

    If R. M. had practiced what he preached, he wouldn’t have run up huge deficit during his terms either.

    • Nanotek

      exactly … the U.S. was transformed from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation under Reagan … not a good president on a lot of levels

  • ktward

    Honest to god, I’d love nothing more than to weigh in on this thread. But the teeny-tiny serif is anathema to my old eyes.

    If the latest FF site update was intended to cull away commenters, consider me officially culled.

    • pnwguy

      ktward:

      What browser do you use? Most all of them have some keyboard commands to increase or decrease the font size of all the type on a page, at least the type that’s not part of an image file.

      Here’s a list of shortcuts for common browsers.

      http://sbpoley.home.xs4all.nl/main/adjust.html

      • ktward

        It’s very kind of you to reply- thanks.

        I use Chrome. Sans a CV, I’ll simply state that I’m relatively tech literate. Sure, I can ctrl+ to increase the font size of the thread, but that f**ks up my browsing experience which is otherwise customized to my tastes.

        Thing is, I remember when html tags worked flawlessly on FF- even at its launch as NewMajority. The update prior to this one effectively nixed any functional html tags beyond a single “enter”, and this update simply makes it impossible for me to read without squinting. (And seriously, a serif font?)

        I’ve already communicated to FF my distress with this latest update–and plenty of folks echoed my thoughts–but weeks have passed and there is no change. So I can only assume that my ilk are, not to be melodramatic, being culled. Frankly, it makes sense with the site’s other reformatting initiatives.

  • ExConSean

    Conservatives are hardliners about Climate Change because industry lobbyists spend good money to frame this debate as a “free market vs. socialism” issue, in order to keep a sizable portion of the populace (the one that already responds most enthusiastically to the real concerns of polluting industries–reducing/eliminating taxes, regulations, and unions) fighting to keep their money rolling in. I Know. I was there.

    I worked at the National Wilderness Institute in the mid-90′s, where we took oil and timber industry dollars and produced “studies” that argued for decreased regulations, opening up national parks to drilling, and gutting the Endangered Species Act (our most notable/infamous accomplishment). I remember the meeting where representatives from Georgia Pacific handed us a big check, and we agreed to write a “study” on “land use” that argued that the government should get out of the business of telling timber companies what to do, because the invisible hand will solve everything.

    Our “study” was mostly a lot of numbers that looked scarier than they were, along with a map that was so scary that Larry Craig posed alongside it several times at press conferences I arranged, and on the Senate floor. Then there were the disjointed factoids, pressed together to look like a complete case, along with quick takedowns of strawman versions of the other side’s arguments. There was no mention of “externalities,” the economist’s term for higher cancer rates around the plant. We definitely earned our money.

    Our study was part of a larger effort, which wasn’t “free market” at all. The study contributed to the passage of a law that made the market less open, by deregulating and giving tax breaks to particular industries. Of course, we were in good company as free-market squishes. Milton Friedman once said, “I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible,” so it’s not like even he was principled about the invisible hand. You can almost hear the cash register bells going off in the heads of lobbyists as they contemplate how easy it will be to get special treatment from people who believe that sort of thing.

    The GOP was always going to be the party of anti-environmentalism, because businesses don’t like paying for the damage they do to other people, and the GOP has a built-in ideological support structure for supporting any policy that is “good for business,” as defined by business. It simply isn’t difficult to get people who agree with the statement, “the invisible hand should be allowed to work freely,” to come around to “what’s good for General Motors is good for America.”

  • ProfNickD

    FrumForum editors are apparently utterly oblivious to the debate about climate change, seemingly having never heard of “climategate” and the wholesale manipulation of climate data — and production of fraudulent research based on that data — by Phil Jones and other scientists at the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University.

    It isn’t about Al Gore forgawdsakes — conservatives regard him as a clown, nothing more. The debate has always been that the climate scare-mongers have used hyperbole 1.) for ideological reasons and 2.) to get lucrative government research grants.

    The problem for the scare-mongers: not only have they changed their views about climate change since the Reagan Administration from a belief in catastrophic man-made global cooling to now catastrophic man-made global warming, but it is now clear that they are manipulating the climate data.

    For years, climate change skeptics have rolled their eyes at the alarmists because the alarmists have never been able to explain the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), the period of significant global warming that occurred in the period 950-1100 C.E. The earth’s climate naturally changes — and there isn’t really anything man can do to cause climate change one way or the other. The MWP is proof of this.

    The purpose of the scientific fraud at East Anglia was to simply make the MWP go away — Phil Jones’ “hockey stick” graph of global temperature over the last 2000 years attempted to prove that radical temperature change has only been caused by man because, see, there is no other recent time (<2000 years) during which the earth has warmed significantly.

    Now we know that Jones' research was fraudulent.

    The MWP existed and man did not cause it — likewise, man is not now causing, and cannot ever cause, such dramatic changes in planetary physics to result in any measurable warming or cooling.

    The "climategate" scandal was major news just a year and a half ago, likely being the most significant case of scientific fraud in our lifetimes, equivalent in degree to the Piltdown Man hoax.

    And, most Americans are on to the scam: Rasmussen reports nearly 70% of Americans think that climate scientists falsify the data, an astounding rejection of the entire "climate science" project. ( http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy69_say_it_s_likely_scientists_have_falsified_global_warming_research )

    All of this just passes over the heads of Frum editors apparently.

    • hlsmlane

      Media Matters has a counterargument: http://mediamatters.org/research/200912010002.

      • Chris Balsz

        Did they keep the uncorrected data to share with others, who could make their own judgment as to the necessity of the “correction”?

        Mann is accused of trying to cripple a journal for publishing a critical article. The “rebuttal” is that it was a really, really lousy article and he welcomes GOOD criticism. This is like saying ” Yeah I lynch people, but I try to be fair and them sumbitches were guilty as hell.”

    • ExConSean

      You’ve clearly never googled the terms, “global cooling consensus myth,” “medieval warming period myth,” or any of the other things climate change deniers have confidently asserted the “alarmists have never been able to explain.” No, ProfNickD, these claims have been answered, ad nauseam.

      It is people like you who have continued to assert that your claims have gone unheard, because believing that nourishes your sense of persecution by forces larger than yourself. The thing is, you only have a constant stream of “counter-arguments” because forces larger than you are paying good money to make fundamentally flawed arguments seem like legitimate challenges to the prevailing worldview. You’re being used by people who think they shouldn’t have to pay for the damage they cause you. Congratulations.

  • Solo4114

    Nixon created the EPA. True story.

  • Chris Balsz

    Some differences from the CFC debate: Anybody could go to Antarctica and measure ozone. Not everybody can aggregate global climate records. The ones who do, don’t always share their math behind the modelling. Their data can be adjusted without disclosure. And they go out of their way to make a political case scenario, which is usually blatantly false. Half the glaciers in the Himalayas will not be gone by 2050, and that should never have been offered as an example.