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Climate Debate Heating Up

Ironically, this year’s record breaking heat wave and drought has done what scientists were unable to do — convince the public that climate change is real. According to a recent poll, now fully 70% of Americans say they believe that climate change is taking place (compared to 15% who say it is not).

The temperatures in June helped make the preceding 12 months the warmest since we started keeping records in 1895. In addition, over half the the states in the continental US are experiencing moderate to severe drought.

Unsurprisingly, political party affiliation is the best predictor of whether someone believes that climate change is taking place. But even so, a majority (53%) of Republicans believe, compared to 87% of Democrats and 72% of independent voters.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we are ready to do something about it.

© Chan Lowe



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I don’t think there is any disagreement that climate change is taking place. That has been a fact for 4 billion years. The Earth has experienced much warmer and cooler temperatures long before we arrived. What the debate is IMO is how much is caused by man and how much we can change that vs how much is mother nature and what if anything we could do about it. I am glad to see the correct term climate change finally being used because while it was a mild winter (after 2 very cold ones) and a hot summer, other parts of the world had a very cold winter and now a mild summer.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 5:41 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Actually, the debate is over (from the article: “‘there is no debate’ that man-made carbon emissions are warming the planet.”) The overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that the rise in global temperatures is caused by human activities (and I would also point out, as far as we can tell it is happening at a far faster rate than it ever has in the 4 billion years that you mention).

    As for what to do about it, we have the technology to shift our energy production away from oil and coal, but we don’t have the political will. In fact, we keep subsidizing fossil fuels.

    And by the way, if you had actually read the article I linked to, it points out that even the very cold winter of 2010 wasn’t enough to stop that year from being one of 15 warmest on record. And they are talking about global temperatures.

    Facts are so inconvenient!

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 6:14 am | Permalink
  3. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Here are some studies and facts from the other side of the debate. It also raises questions about urban sprawl and the effects on temp and reading temps. All the asphalt and concrete also plays a part along with uncontrollables like the sun, volcanoes, etc.

    All that being said, I do agree we can do better. I disagree that the technology is ready to replace carbon fuels. They are getting there but far from ready. We need more smart guys like you to quit working on IT issues and start working on renewable energy technologies.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink
  4. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    You linked to a site which buys into ClimateGate…?

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  5. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I put it out there because that is what people are reading and basing opinions on and if we want to change opinions we need to address these things.
    Personally, I think CO2 has played a part in warming. I don’t think it’s played the only part. I understand its not easy to put numbers or percents on how much of the warming is attributed to CO2 and Sun cycles and 60 ocean current cycles and urban sprawl, but if we want to reign in the disbelievers there needs to be a study to address these points. Then we can determine a better plan then parking all our cars, planes, ships and trains in favor horse drawn carriages. That is the perception that climate gate believers have of the environmentalists position.

    I just think if a well rounded and more encompassing study was done with solutions that can be phased in and the benefits of those solutions the outcome would be better. When they hear stop using all fossil fuels now, they just think thats impractable and currently it is.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  6. Arthanyel wrote:

    We are all (PSgt included) in agreement that man’s activities are contributing to climate change. There is some debate over how much, but the bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter. The climate is warming and man’s activities are contributing, which means we need to take action as quickly as possible to mitigate the impacts because the rest of the natural universe isn’t going to do anything different 🙂

    What makes me crazy is the right wing extremists that deny man’s activities have ANYTHING to do with it and that therefore we should not take ANY action at all. That’s not debating – that’s sticking your fingers in your ears and drowning out the truth.

    And what makes me fighting mad, not just crazy, is when right wing extremists pass laws to deny the very existence of the data or the science. That’s not debating, and it’s not ignoring the truth – it’s violently trying to hunt down and kill the truth. And it should have consequences.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  7. Iron Elbow wrote:

    Sadly, as soon as the USA has a cold summer (possibly with with hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme weather), many of the people who equate global warming with warm weather will decide its a hoax again…

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink
  8. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I agree Arthanyel. Suprisingly though, when I get into conversations with said extremists (at least in my limited circle) they don’t deny climate change is taking place, but they roll they’re eyes when the solution presented by the far other side is go 100% non fossil fuel. That is not currently a practical solution and I agree with that much.
    If someone came out with a study that accounted for all the contributers to warming natural and man made, their percentages, and if we took actions A, B or C we’d have impact those numbers by whatever amount, near and far term.
    We’ve come a long way since the 70’s in protecting our environment and we need to continue the progress. I also think it would help if the big name vocal advocates like Al Gore calling for change would lead way in setting an example on conserving. It just doesn’t seem to the disbelievers to be much of a crisis when people like him buy a second mansion, fly all over the world, heat and cool 2 big homes and then advocate the little guy ride a donkey to work to save the planet. And I’d be willing to say that some of the deniars actually believe, but can’t stand the people they are arguing with and go extreme on them just to PTO.

    I also think that we should take all the fossil subsidies and develop a real solution besides bigger batteries for cars, because they need electricity, which is mostly derived from …fossil fuels or nuclear. Solar is OK, but still too expensive for average people. Perhaps if we subsidized (with the fossil dollars) solar solutions for individuals, but we’d unfortunatley end up buying chinese made panels.
    I think the truth destroyers are backed by big oil. But, we are not ready to close the wells and mines at this point. If our engineers in this country can’t figure a way to make a decent hybrid like say the Prius which works fairly well, vs the volt then we are doomed. What we really need is something completely new, its out there and all we need to do is find it.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink
  9. David Freeman wrote:

    Every concern Patriotsgt brought up has been answered so many times before, I’m just tired of playing whack-a-mole responding to arguments against the imaginary strawmen of the “far other side”. The non-imaginary “far other side” is 98% of all climate scientists and 95% of all physical scientists published in peer reviewed journals.

    Just go to Rocky Mountain Institute, and read their book, “Winning the Oil Endgame”, , and stop listening to ignorant folks.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
  10. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Who are they hearing “stop using all fossil fuels” from? Who, in a place of power/policy making is advocating this as a strategy?

    You realize that they put stricter efficiency standards on freaking LIGHTBULBS and the entire right wing noise machine had, and continues to have, the equivalent of a grand mal seizure? Seriously. LIGHTBULBS.

    These people will, upon hearing that there’s some earth-day initiative to turn off your lights on some day will turn on all the lights in their house. The equivalent of setting your own money on fire. To make a point. To nobody.

    I used to work with one of these people. They drive a super-sized SUV with a V8. They say they smile every time they fill it up.

    Sorry, but you can never pass these people off as rational. You can never pass them off as just waiting to hear a ‘well rounded and more encompassing study.’ The issue has been politicized, and because we live in America that means that the right wing base has made it a moral issue. Climate change being real would be pure evil. And it just must not be so.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  11. Don in Waco wrote:

    I miss the days when Republicans led on environmental issues. Nixon signed legislation creating the EPA and Bush I signed the Clean Air Act Amendments. Now they all seem to think climate change is a conspiracy of world government carbon traders and climate scientists wanting to get rich from a some scam(like climate scientists are getting rich..heh). Of course the funding of denier science by Koch bros. and Big Oil is seen by the R’s as perfectly normal. I’ve mentioned this previously but here’s a link to Jeff Master’s excellent essay on manufactured doubt: If you want to “crawl in the weeds” of climate science I recommend but the science there gets over my head pretty quickly and I avoided taking statistics in college for a reason.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  12. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hmmm, PSgt. I say “shift our energy production away from oil and coal” and you seem to think I said “go 100% non fossil fuel”. I think I see the problem.

    Anyone who doesn’t think it would be a good thing to work toward reducing our consumption of oil and coal is either evil or severely misguided.

    1032, I love your point about lightbulbs.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink
  13. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK- I understand what you said and how you chose your words, but what the limited attention read a headline group gathers from that is get rid of all fossil fuels now. Thats what we are combating and so we need to modify the message to get the point accross. I work with all tyes of people in the Army, some really smart to those who can barely read and I’ve adapted my approach over the years. I consider it my job to find a way to get my point accross in a way the intended audience will comprehend. I liken it to a boxing match where the first round is dancing around and jabbing to look for weaknesses in the defense. Sooner or later if I’m persistent the light comes on and they get it. Of course I have also learned that there is the 10% who will never get it.

    1032 – I get what you are saying and you are right. But I think the % that is those people are smaller, closer to 10% or less and we need to reach the other 30% to drown out the voices of those 10% if we want to win this battle. On the lightbulbs I think the argument is again mis-understood. Not the 10% who will never get it, but for the others, its not about the energy saving, they like that and think it’s good. Its that most of those bulbs are being produced in China and they feel we cut the US manufacturing businesses out. Like with GE who has plants in 43 other countries and shelters its alot of income and taxes overseas and getting tax breaks. The good is less energy and longer use, the bad made in China and lost US jobs.

    Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  14. ebdoug wrote:

    And I Hollar “How many of you use paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates, toilet paper, disposable diapers, bags from the grocery store that can’t be reused. How many of you use clothes dryers and dish washers instead of hanging your clothes and putting your dishes in a rack to dry? How many air condition just one room, heat just one room? How many go to a mall or store instead of shopping on-line whenever possible? How many plant trees to produce oxygen? How many have switched to a wringer washer that uses two loads of water only half the soap that you used to use for one load of wash for a whole weeks worth of wash? How many have put in a little solar to power lights at night? (the statistics there are high by the way)” I remember my mother switching over to disposables when I was less than ten. I remember objecting then. I remember raising my children in the era of disposable diapers but escewing them except when we went camping. I remember having long conversations with my sister on trains as opposed to cars and planes. That was in 1960. As one person said above, we talk about it, but we don’t do anything. I remember taking a pet to a new vet, leaving her in a towel covered cage and realizing they don’t use disposable. When I ask people if they use solar and wind power to dry their clothes, more and more say “yes” and with big families. 15 minutes of bleach kills all. Bleach and water for 15 minutes, you have sterile.

    Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink
  15. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Someone may care about the percentages of people that you are making up out of thin air. But it isn’t me. Nice job on the RW talking points, though.

    Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

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