Beyond Radical

I REMEMBER, LONG AGO as a college reporter, interviewing the Libertarian candidate for president in a Boston hotel room. He held forth at great length on the Libertarian platform, which could basically be boiled down to “leave me the hell alone,” a position he defended with admirable vigor and complete consistency. Abolish marijuana laws — it doesn’t hurt you. Abolish consumer protections — if a business cheated its customers, word would spread and the business would soon vanish. Abolish taxes, or most of them anyway — let people pay for the services government currently rendered, if they wanted them.

I was a smartass, and kept pushing the envelope. Should people be allowed to own guns? Of course. Should they be allowed to own bazookas? Of course. Should we each be permitted to own our own nuclear weapons?

He paused, looked at me, and said, “Every ideology has its flaws.”

I’ve thought about him a few times in recent years, as I lamented the fact that we’ve had so little useful bipartisan debate about global warming. Many libertarians — and much of the larger conservative movement — have let down the intellectual process by refusing to engage on the most important issue of our time, and it’s making it much harder to solve the problem. I don’t mean, of course, that they haven’t opposed action on climate change — the think tanks and websites at the center of organized conservatism have done that successfully for twenty years. But it’s been only by the disgracefully anti-intellectual tactic of denying that there’s a real problem.

Libertarians, for instance, have always insisted that they’re more rational than the rest of us, weighed down as we are by religious superstition or other forms of sentimentality. Their magazine, after all, is called Reason. But Reason and its ideological cousin the Cato Institute have spent twenty years plumping for any global warming skeptic they can find or fund — their position, apparently, is that the atmospheric chemists and physicists who, by application of the scientific process, have reached broad consensus that we are warming the Earth have somehow managed to screw up the math. It’s embarrassing to read — no argument is too absurd or too trivial. It is completely unReasonable.

And the same holds for more standard-issue conservatives, many of whom continue to insist that global warming is a “hoax,” that more carbon dioxide would be “good for plants,” that Al Gore is out only to line his pockets, and on and on. Here’s Rush Limbaugh: “Despite the hysterics of a few pseudo-scientists, there is no reason to believe in global warming.” And here’s the result: only 13 percent of Republicans in Congress believe humans are warming the planet. Only 29 percent of Republican voters view global warming as a serious threat. As the Gallup pollsters put it: “It would appear that the vigorous conservative campaign against climate-change advocates (especially Al Gore) has contributed to leaders of the Republican Party adopting a highly skeptical view of global warming.”

Which is too bad for three reasons. One, it marks the end (at least for now) of the bipartisan cooperation on the environment that prevailed for most of the twentieth century and produced everything from Teddy Roosevelt’s national parks to the Clean Water Act.

Second, it damages the useful idea that is classical conservatism — the idea that stability and tradition are to be taken seriously. It’s hard to imagine anything less conservative than rapidly increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and just seeing what happens — especially after, say, the Arctic has spectacularly melted. At this point, not trying to rein in coal and gas and oil combustion pretty much defines radical. It makes anything Abbie Hoffman ever dreamed of seem bashful.

And third, by refusing to engage the reality of the problem, conservatives as a whole have contributed nothing to the search for workable solutions. This is unfortunate, because their help would be useful. We are standing on the edge of large-scale government intervention in our economies, and we could benefit from the analytical focus that conservatives have brought to similar discussions in the past. For instance, Congress may approve stiff caps on carbon sometime this year. Should that happen, the price of fossil fuel will rise sharply, and consumption will then likely begin to fall. There’s no other way to make change on the scale that we need in the time frame we have. But making Exxon pay for the right to emit CO2 is only half the equation. The next question is, what happens to the large pool of money that this will create? A typical answer would be to treat it like tax revenue and let Congress spend it on something — more corn-based ethanol, perhaps. But instead, some environmentalists have proposed an entirely different idea: bypassing Congress and sending a check each year to each American for their share of the sky. That would mean we’d still get the price signal at the pump, but would, in the end, be made roughly whole. It represents a small-government solution, and it should be discussed and refined by people from all sides of the ideological spectrum.

But the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cato, and all the rest are still engaged in essentially trying to shoot the messenger. The conferences and op-eds and newspaper ads are endless; they’ve been trotting out the same small band of nonscientists for decades, and trumpeting the same round of alternative explanations (sunspots!) long after they’ve been discredited by actual, you know, research. Chemistry and physics, however, have proved remarkably immune to the spin (maybe the laws of nature haven’t bookmarked the right websites). The molecular structure of CO2 traps heat. That just turns out to be a fact of the planet we live on.

Why the endless opposition? I know that some people believe libertarians and other conservatives have punted on climate change simply because they’re in bed with the fossil fuel companies — that they’ve taken lots of money from dirty energy and now do the bidding of their masters. This is undoubtedly true of plenty of individual politicians, but one hopes — fervently — that it isn’t true of the millions of thoughtful people and groups that need to be a part of a crucial debate. I think, instead, that history explains some of the resistance. The global warming scare arrived on the scene at the end of the Reagan years, at the absolute high-water mark of conservative confidence, and so it seemed a real threat to the movement’s ascendancy. I think the syllogism in many minds went like this: markets solve all problems; markets aren’t solving global warming; Q.E.D., global warming isn’t a problem.

That may have been emotionally comforting, but it had obvious logical weaknesses, the biggest of which was simply: markets could help solve the problem, in fact faster than any other force. But only if we supplied them with one crucial piece of information: that carbon is dangerous. That it carries a cost. Establishing this has essentially been the battle for twenty years, and it shouldn’t require a repudiation of conservative principles. It requires only a subordination of ideology to the laws of chemistry and physics.

I’m not a libertarian, because I think they’ve conflated “human nature” — their sense of the individual über alles — with the effects of the last couple hundred years of consumer society. I think humans are at their best when they’re social creatures; that’s why I’m a Methodist, not a Randian. But I don’t disdain libertarianism, nor conservatism. How could any environmentalist, who at heart is interested in maintaining as much as possible of the world we were born into? But each day that they remain in sly and subtle opposition to scientific fact draws them further into intellectual disrepute. It’s been a tough couple of years for laissez-faire ideology — Alan Greenspan pretty much dumped Ayn Rand overboard when he told Congress earlier this year that his worldview had been “flawed.” But at this rate, it’s going to be a tough geological epoch too — for all of us.

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty  thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.


  1. No reasonable libertarian or conservative will deny climate change. The main issue is the CAUSE of climate change — is it man or is it part of the natural process a planet endures over millions of years?

  2. Read everything that Ayn Rand ever wrote before age 25. Was 45 before ever reading “The Grapes of Wrath” for first time. Soooo many lonely, frustrating thwarted years in between, including acquiring advanced degree in economics.

    Just finished “Deep Economy” – so right, so insightful. I do worry though, that the federal stimulus will fall flat because it’s being funneled through the beast built by a “hyper-individualist” efficiency model.

    Thank you for all you do, Bill McKibben. You’re truly an inspiration.

  3. Climate change deniers are numerous and it seems clear they either choose not to recognize what many scientifically untrained persons can observe in their own lives and places of abode. Former Vice President Gore’s pictoral and daya evidence, “An inconvenient truth” well fulfills Carl Sagan’s famous aphorism, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Far too many even well informed persons today are unaware of the significant contribution to our slowly moving understanding of the impact of humanity on Planet Earth made in 1868-1874 by the paradigmatic work, “The earth as modified by human action,” published in greatdetail by George P. Marsh, with numerous specific examples. There may be natural cycles, and the geologic and to a lesser degree, archeologic, evidence says there are, but that is no reason to object to stopping or modifying thbose things mankind does which may, and likely will, push the natural cycle beyond the limits of tolerance by living things, especially human culture. Fortunately those wishing to learn what George P. Marsh had to say about it 135 years ago (the revised edition) his seminal book has now been redone by Kessinger Publishing’s Rare Reprint series; see:

  4. Right ON, Bill. The lobbyists have been sending huge amounts to Congress who care nothing for Gaea. It is past time to rise up and raise a big unholy howl that they will hear as the bills pass around the Country Club they call the Congress. Time these jerks were made to pay for having such conveniently _short memories_. (from Midnight Oil)

    Your work is excellent as always.

  5. So I see- the issues of climate destruction and economic ruination need a professorial, “Methodist” approach of toleration of all views, no matter how deluded, antagonistic, or destructively powerful.
    Right, there just has been not enough attention given to these antediluvian “ideas.” They’ve only run the world for the past century – but with Pastor McKibben, we should feel such pity for these masters of the universe.
    Where’s the fire in the belly?

  6. Regardless of the political label, the American legislative branch continues to be ineffective because all legislation is watered down, bought and paid for by whatever capitalist has the deepest pockets. This is not a cynical view, it is reality. The only thing that will change human behavior is when it becomes absolutely apparent humans must adhere to the laws of nature – there is no human future if we don’t.

  7. D. Foster,

    “Humans must adhere to the laws of nature”…which laws? Does survival of the fittest rank among them and if so, isn’t that the law that has depleted the resources of the planet to its breaking point for the gain of the few at the top? Ironic, isn’t it, if survival of the fittest will ultimately leave no man standing?

  8. Bobbie,

    “Survival of the fittest” was and is a distortion of Darwin’s findings, exploited by the ubber individualists and power brokers to justify conquest and control (and eugenics).

    As evolutionary biologists are now realizing, the “law of nature” is one of radical cooperation of individuals and social groups within ecologies. It is that law which has maintained the delicately-balanced web-of-life for billions of years, and it is that law which the libertarian social darwinists are trying to thwart – to the peril of all who cherish life.

  9. Bill McKibben is a good-hearted and thoughtful man, but one who cannot get “beyond radical” as long as he propagates the libertarian distortion of the term.

    Radical means – literally – going to the root. The first political radicals were the Levellers who wanted to disempower the aristocracy, reverse the enclosure of the commons, and democratize society. Their movement was co-opted by enlightenment liberals and then “enlightened” libertarians, so that now the only possible solutions (such as the economic ones that McKibben proposes) are lowest-common-denominator compromises that don’t affect the status quo.

    “Radical right” is as clever an oxymoron as is the “radical middle” which McKibben would like to draw together to “solve” our global crises.

    Nothing short of reversing the enclosure of the commons by industrial consumer culture will be radial enough to stave off the mass extinctions that are already underway, including the extinction of that most unfit of all creatures – man.

  10. Bobbie, The context for “laws of nature” is metaphysical as well as practical. Obviously “survival of the fittest” is not a natural law if how you survive destroys the environment that sustains you. Any clear thinking human who honestly contemplates their temporal existence will see that. People who do not contemplate this have had their priorities obscured by the abstraction of nature which began occurring around the time of “the Enlightenment”.

  11. Bill, it is surpassing odd that you would choose this of all moments in history to lament the absence of conservatives from the political debate.

    Surely one of the very causes of their ebb from relevance is precisely the flat-earth, know-nothing mentality on questions of science generally and climate change specifically to which they have steadfastly clung.

    Whatever the reason for their current irrelevancy, without countervailing conservatives around as obstacles (or cover), the path to action is left (ostensibly) clear for controlling majority of Democrats. Left without plausible excuses for not seizing this moment and acting forcefully on climate change (and health care, and a raft of other issues) perhaps theirs are the flanks to which the spurs of action are better applied.

    Perhaps form will hold, and the Democrats will again prove more faithful to their corporate constituents’ interests, and their failure will thereby deliver a return from the wilderness for conservatives. Do the imperatives of climate change action admit of waiting to see?

  12. D. Foster,

    Your response makes sense, as Martin Buber so well described in “I and Thou.” Abstracting reality to the extreme is an illness.

    Community activity forces us back into true relationships. I cannot think of a better way to lift the lens of abstraction than building community involvement opportunities. I believe that McKibben is correct on this score. If there is a better way, I sincerely wish to hear it. Especially since “community” is not built overnight – although Twitter is getting us there.

  13. R. Riversong,

    How do we reverse the enclosure of the commons if not in the ways suggested by McKibben?

    Sincerely wanting to know. I work tirelessly as a volunteer for social change in my small town and want to be more effective. Thanks for any links/references you can provide.

  14. Your article suggests a continuuum in conservative thought over time that may not be there. Do you not think that neo-conservative ideology, associated with the Chicago School of Economics and its adherents, has replaced the more “small c” conservatism to which you are appealing in your article? Neo-conservatism, the dominant strain of “conservatism” now, is – as you note – alarmingly radical, and not really conservative at all.

  15. Climate change deniers, no matter their ideological persuasion, can’t argue with the “dragon in the living room” which is China’s current rush to ecocide.

    Brought to us by the neo-liberal, free trade model which “conservatives” and liberals alike continue to espouse, China’s experiment with unrestrained growth has devastated its landscapes, poisoned its water and air, and inflicted epidemic rates of cancer and industrial injuries on its citizens.

    While providing affluent consumers in the US and Europe with abundant cheap goods, it has also accelerated climate change and spread its environmental plunder far and wide in an insatiable quest for energy and raw materials.

    The “miracle” will soon collapse of its own inability to “keep land fit to live upon,” a task so vital to human existence Aldo Leopold declared all advances in consumer goods and technological gadgetry “mere parlor tricks” by comparison.

    May China’s great sacrifice not be in vain.

  16. I agree with McKibben. Yet, something about the bigraphical description of him at article’s end rankles me.
    Bill is “working on behalf of the rest of us.” When did the rest of us elect him? When did he consult us?
    I’m actually glad he’s out there advocating and expressing concerns so well, it’s just the choice of words to describe him that irritates. I seriously doubt he is as inflated as the description suggests.

    And an FYI: Since 1996, the world population has increased by over one billion. One billion more consumers. An increase that used to take humans many centuries to grow now takes just two decades. What number can, or should, the planet attempt to sustain? Where will we be by 2016 if we don’t act?

  17. Radical schmadical? Let’s not get hung up on buzz words that will continue to mean different things to different people. McKibben point well taken though: not acting on the massive potential danger of (man-created)climate change would doom us most likely to many years of ecological, social and economic catastrophe. An ounce of prevention it seems is worth a megaton of cure.
    But I see the ultimate issue is the failure of capitalism (by definition and practice) to inherently consider social costs. Please don’t argue that capitalism will get around to, or does, consider social costs. Centuries of slavery prove otherwise. Man wiping out species and unique habitats say otherwise. So what is needed is a global consciousness that we must have a “double bottom line” to our economic activities. Include a social costs measure and adjustment. Tax cigarettes heavily, build in recycling or disposal costs for machines or products, price water so we can afford complete conservation and purification. Oh wait, we do tax tobacco a lot, and we require disposal fee on tires. Maybe we will get around to making this concept core to living, production, spending, mining, and our economy. Now that would be radical! And get at the root.

  18. Eva,

    Outside of my small town, people dump thousands of tires in the woods to avoid the tire disposal tax leaving volunteers to clean the mess and pay the disposal costs. Our lowest income citizens are receiving 50% more food pantry and home energy assistance while holding onto smoking habits at approximately $7/pack. Concerned citizens have not been effectively able to prevent the potential economic disaster of a new sulfide mining operation because the corporation and proponents are selling the “jobs” that come with it.

    I’m truly enjoying the level of thought and discussion on this site. But how do we “implement” them? How do you sell the “double bottom line” to millions upon millions of people in a short amount of time? Seems like its a massive educational dilemma that has to come directly and unfiltered by traditional media machines from the change agents in the field to the complacent.

  19. Eva,

    There’s already a widely-accepted “triple bottom line” in the global sustainability movement – Ecology, Economy & Equity – which was first articulated in the 1987 publication “Our Common Future”, created by the World Commission on the Environment and Development.

    The 3 E’s has been promoted by the 1992 Rio Earth Summit in their Agenda 21 (out of which emerged the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity), the Earth Charter, the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for the Environment (from the 1994 Women and Sustainable Development Conference in Vancouver BC), and the 2002 Johannesburg Summit.

    Out of these initial consensus documents grew the Precautionary Principle, the Natural Step, the Houston Principles, the CERES (formerly Valdez) Principles, The ICC Charter and ISO 14000 – which translated the 3 E’s into the “triple bottom line” of planet, people and profit. And, with all these words, principles and consciousness, global problems continue to worsen and climate change may well be beyond the tipping point (point of no return) while species extinction accelerates to evolutionary proportions.

    Green Taxes, the Forest Stewardship Council & Marine Stewardship Council, the Asimolar Declaration for Sustainable Agriculture, the Hannover Principles (cradle-to-cradle production), Regenerative Architecture, the Sanborn Principles, The US Green Building Council, Permaculture… all attempt to make an unsustainable culture and economy a little or a lot more sane and responsible.

    But the question remains, can a human population that’s growing exponentially like a cancer ever be sustainable? Can a culture of comfort and consumption ever be sustainable? Can an economy based on the maximization of profit (however many ancillary bottom lines are amended) ever be sustainable? Can a neo-liberal/neo-conservative politic of power and wealth ever be sustainable? Can an ethos of individualism and anthropocentrism ever be sustainable?

    No amount of re-arranging the deck chairs will keep this Titanic afloat – its design was fundamentally flawed. The stories that we’ve been living for centuries, and even millennia, are fundamentally flawed. We need an entirely new paradigm – or really a re-discovery of the ancient paradigm within which we lived for millions of years in harmony with natural law. That paradigm is so simple that we can no longer comprehend it (for all we look to as “solutions” are technically complex, entailing unintended consequences). It includes such timeless wisdom as “we belong to the earth”, “take no more than you need”, “leave enough for all other creatures”, “make no decision without considering the next seven generations”, “love ALL thy neighbors as thyself”, “do not do to others what you would not have done to yourself” – and even the old Yankee adage: “use it up, wear it out, make do or do without”.

    Until we de-legitimize the entire story of modern culture and engage a new story that is in tune with the natural harmonies upon which this delicately balanced spaceship floats, there can be no possibility for the continuity of the human race. From Gaia’s perspective, that may be the best outcome – and those who truly love Gaia should be willing to celebrate that possible future.

  20. Bobby,

    You ask “How do we reverse the enclosure of the commons?”

    There are a few “radical” socio-political changes that we can work toward which will have dramatic effect.

    Perhaps the most important is to strip the corporation of immortal legal personhood (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 1886), which gives it protections under the Bill of Rights and makes it the dominant influence in America. POCLAD and the Democracy Movement are working to this end. Corporations were originally short-lived consortiums intended to serve a public purpose.

    We also need to reverse Buckly v. Valeo, 1975, which equated money with speech and made it illegal to restrict political contributions by corporations and interest groups. And we need complete public financing of all elections. Many groups, such as Public Campaign, are working on this.

    We need to reverse the Lincolnesque trend toward centralization of power in DC, which undermines the Founders’ intent, and restore the right of secession. Just as agricultural and economic localism revives communities, the locus of political power must be once again decentralized. There are more than two dozen secession movements in North America and re-localization is gaining traction.

    We need to shut down the Federal Reserve and the Central Banking system which gives the bankers unconstitutional control over the money supply and allows them to create “money” out of debt rather than value, making expansionism and inflation necessary elements of our economy. And we need to return Wall Street to commodity (business) investment rather than high-stakes financial gambling. Banks should be only savings and lending institutions. The health insurance industry should be federalized, single-payer health care (like in all other advanced nations) instituted, and hospitals and community clinics become non-profit.

    Social Security numbers should be restricted (as America was promised) to Social Security and no longer be used as a universal identifier (the necessary requisite of all tyrannies).

    What started as a loosely-aligned nation of sovereign states composed of vital communities, yeomen farmers and creative entrepreneurs has morphed into a highly centralized imperialistic nation-state, fully owned and operated by corporate and financial power brokers.

    We need, in other words, to restore social, economic and political democracy and downsize and decentralize all facets of our collective life. Without these “radical” changes (meaning returning to our roots as a nation), there is no hope for the environment or social justice. By themselves, they are not sufficient, but they are the necessary beginnings of a radical reorientation of society.

  21. I know it is faintly absurd to be posting vituperative comments in the Orion land of inoffensive enivronmentalism, but here is my formulation: McKibben and Chris Hedges are now the twin gurus of the New Ascetics, both sons of ministers whose humorless and vapid pietistic academic scourge Puritanism collapses genuine social rebellion. Other New Ascetics, some of whom are actually quite old: Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, Ode Magazine: the “left” that is actually bending toward Right. Oh, the words are quite formulaic “leftism,” but the actions are venerations of traditionalism, so it is no surprise to see McKibben hearkending back to the Middlebury College circa 1830.

  22. Excellent thoughtful article.

    Some people deny the newly discovered out of intellectual ineptness; others deny out of fear (what if it’s true!) As when talking with citizens about war, hearing the denial that we could do anything about it, it helps to hear the fear behind the rationalization and to acknowledge, in a non-distainful way, that we too know fear. Get people to express that fear. Then, sometimes dialogue is possible.

    Conservative backlash is not going to go away soon; we’d better learn how to cope!

  23. Bill, is this then the end of nature? Bush stole eight crucial years from the planet. Exxon still makes a profit from climate skepticism. My country, India, imagines that nature is fair and will rain pestilence only on those countries that caused the climate gyro to wobble. So? What do we tell the children? Will tomorrow come?

  24. Thank you, Bittu, for your honest expression of serious concerns. I wish Bill and others had answers ready to serve. We must all work for solutions. We are all in this together. I live in a country that uses up resources far more rapidly than yours, yet we all live on one planet and must save resources as we can. Bush wasted as no other; I keep urging Obama to save, and he does sometimes, not at others.
    Sometimes the waste is unbearable. But I see no solution that doesn’t involve us all. We, in every country, need to let our leaders know that the situation is intolerable.

    I know of no other way.

    in peace,

  25. After spending three painful days at an Energy Conference sponsored by the Lt Governor of NM sideshow non-profit that brought together 10 “environmentalists” with 150 energy corporation reps and big oil lobbyists; it was obvious to me that they were going to make sure that they would do everything plausible if not illegal take the reins of energy policy in the State of New Mexico even to the risk of the Earth’s peril. This has be including the recent downgrading of their support of their renewable energy program. The Renewable energy is the bane of the PNM Electric and New Mexico gas. New Mexico has two coal fire plants with corporate plans for 4 more, which supplies electric to Southern California, Nevada and Arizona.
    What I learned was that several of the “environmentalists” were compromising on the issues of allowing coal fire to continue as long as they got control of private and federal monies coming into the state for green jobs. They, the few bad apples, have also corralled the “Green Jobs” start-ups now any start up must go through them. There is a Federal investigation into some of this but that will not stop big oil and gas.
    The most pathetic outcome of all this is that in New Mexico it is not slated to get any better as oil and gas are spending millions to see that the green efforts by hundred of others never see the light of day. They are working to change the laws in legislature to allow shale drilling in the most pristine areas of the state and on privately held lands making it impossible for the land owners to stop their efforts or to seek compensation.
    I agree with Bill McKibben that the consevative right has lost their ability to seek a bipartisan deals on climate change (or healthcare) with any real change to be affected.
    It is the blue dogs that we need to convince or replace.
    “Hounds unleashed” bar the doors of the Legislature and work to transition the closures of coal fire plants.
    I once thought that we could transition off oil naturally, that the conservative movement diehards would die off and eventually we could do what we need to. I realize now that was wishful thinking hoping they would just drop dead. We must take the hard road on this one because they have blocked all other roads and its time to take them on.
    For we will all surely drop dead if we do not.

  26. Elaine, Thank you for expressing your feelings. I’m angry too—whether the environment, health care, economics, or social change, but what I keep seeing is how both right and left have become rigid. This is the result of polarization, which results in forgetting how to think abstractly, i.e., how to put yourself into another’s position.

    Believe me, if I thought anger could solve anything, I’d have a lot to let loose. But I fear that if we continue to talk about “environmentalists” and “conservationists” and “leaders” and “citizens” and “progressives” and “compassion” and “freedom” and “responsibility” and so on, we’re only upping the ante, not dealing with the issues.

    We all live on this earth together, and if we can’t solve the problems of the earth together, the earth will be like the child of bickering parents, and it’s not a pretty picture.

  27. At this point, it doesn’t matter who or what caused climate change. It’s very clearly happening at an alarming rate. It’s time we stop pointing fingers and arguing and work together to combat what has become a serious and pressing global issue! End of story, there is no arguement!

  28. May I speak as a conservative? A conservative in that facts only have weight and not emotion. As a conservative all facts are suspect and will be inspected for both pro and con arguments. A judgment will then be made as to the validity of said facts. A plan, incorporating the facts is the next part of the puzzle. Aside from this bare bones approach, most arguments hold little interest.

    As to global warming, your article was very passionate but lacking in facts. There was lots of blame, hand wringing, whining, but no plan. Did you want conservatives to think up a plan for you? Here’s a fact. Liberals won the election in spades, holding majorities in both the House and the Senate as well as the White House. Why do you need conservatives? Conservatives have no vote, no power, no voice. All the power is in the hands of the Liberals. With that kind of power – stop whining and solve the problem.

  29. Re: Conservative response. I often hear from self-described conservatives that they want to look at facts and that they see liberal responses as emotional and not fact-based.

    I also often hear emotional judgments in such responses, such as “stop your whining”. As one who’s played the observer for many years, seeing myself as one above it all, I can’t accept the notion that some of us concerned with climate change are emotional and some of us are not.

    Red herring. I welcome all opinions for consideration, but ask that we also all be honest about our agenda.

    No one in this discussion about climate change is without feeling. And let’s be honest about our interpretation of data while we’re at it. Many who are concerned have different realities, but we must acknowledge that interpretation of data is subjective. From there we might have a dialogue.

    I’m not a scientist, but I do know that a multitude of respectable scientists have found similar warnings about climate change.

    It is totally beside the point if I’m conservative or liberal politically. I and many others who are worried about our planet are ecologically conservative. That, to me, is the important descriptor

  30. Diana M.: “Ecologically Conservative” IS a much better descriptor. For example, I’m sure that both of my parents would happily label themselves conservative. Their consumption habits, however, are anything but.

  31. If you hear conservatives ask for facts, take them at face value and don’t embellish the request. Conservatives like to look at the facts. Think of them as Joe Friday “The facts, just the facts”. It’s a simple request. As to being a Conservative Environmentalist – well I don’t know about your parents, but I live in a solar envelope home in Wisconsin, I drive car that gets 30+ Miles to the gallon, recycle, have cut my household waste to 2 20 gal garbage bags per month, have a garden and am currently exploring the possibility of a parabolic solar collector grid to supply electricity for my city. I am a conservative and I believe action speaks and facts tell the story.

  32. Hollis Martin: Thank you for sharing your actions. Parabolic Solar for your Wisconsin city – I’d love to hear the results of your research as I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and our aging power plant may soon be sold in favor of power off the grid.

  33. I see this line quite often that Conservatives just like to look at the facts. But what I observe is quite opposite. Conservatives, at least the most vocal neo-conservatives, seem quite unwilling to look at the facts, on many things, but climate change in particular. Well-established scientific findings and a great deal of consensis is consistently dismissed when it conflicts with ideology. Good for Fox News, perhaps, but not for the rest of us.

  34. Re: If you hear conservatives ask for facts, take them at face value and don’t embellish the request. Conservatives like to look at the facts. Think of them as Joe Friday “The facts, just the facts”. It’s a simple request.

    I’ve always heard the phrase “stop your whining” as an a-factual, emotional putdown of those whose ideas differ. Very simple, very straightforward. If you see it differently, so be it.

    Self-awareness is another interesting topic, but not one presented by the author of the article. As one who respects scientific and rational inquiry, I tend to favor sticking to the topic offered up for discussion.

  35. More madness from the tiny minority of humanity (ie, thieves of the highest order, scoundrels and mad men) who dishonestly commandeer a lion’s share of the world’s wealth, depravedly ‘bonus’ themselves for doing so, dishonorably make the rules by which all human beings live and deplorably rule the world primarily for the own benefit of themselves and their minions.

    Words to live by from these self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us:

    Go forth and multiply. We Masters rule. Forget about humanity.

    Plunder, gorge yourselves and hoard ’til you are sated. Satisfy your unfulfilled wishes. Greed rules. Forget about humanity.

    Build McMansions, pleasure centers, hideaways from the world, skyscrapers, faster cars, bigger cars, mega-yachts and polluting aircraft for personal aggrandizement and gratification. Greed rules and rules absolutely. Forget about humanity.

    In times of danger to self and others, with a single exception, you have an inviolate “duty to warn”. In the “stand alone” case the rule is to be set aside: You can forget about humanity.

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