Earth Day: Real environmentalists are conservative. And live where it's green

Guest Opinion: Most of the talk about Earth Day is more about political positioning than saving the planet. Look what really makes a difference.
Wheat harvesting in rural central Washington near Moxee (2004)

Wheat harvesting in rural central Washington near Moxee (2004) Henry Alva/Flickr

Earth Day provides clear evidence of how strange the environmental debate is these days.

Left-wing environmentalists, living in cities where concrete has largely replaced nature, will brag about their environmental successes while claiming the planet is doomed.

Conservatives, more likely to live in rural areas, surrounded by nature, will downplay environmental politics — but will live the values they express in their private life.

We got to this strange place because the political value of environmentalism is now greater than actually helping the environment. Symbolic gestures and self-indulgent rhetoric are more prevalent than sound science and economics.

There are put-downs, like Gov. Jay Inslee saying those who disagree with him on climate change “don’t believe in gravity.”

There are costly and failed projects, like “green” school mandates that the Legislature’s own auditing agency says increase energy use.

Some claims are just strange. Tom Watson, who taxpayers pay as the King County Eco-consumer, once claimed the traditional Korean dish kimchee is the most environmentally friendly food, although he did not explain why.

Those who believe in the free market have a powerful alternative to rigid left-wing environmentalism. An approach that combines innovation, doing more with less, and personalized choices is more respectful of individuals and more environmentally effective.

First, technology is the best way to do more with less.

Alternatively, the left demands others change their lifestyle to fit the left’s notion of a “green” life. The left-wing Guardian newspaper notes getting “consumers to change their behavior is a significant component of the sustainability agenda.” Such efforts, however, have failed repeatedly.

Instead, technology has been the driver of real environmental results.

Hybrid cars were created when Toyota saw the opportunity to let consumers save money on gas and help the planet. Soda cans today use much less aluminum, reducing the use of energy. Coca-Cola developed PlantBottle, a plastic bottle made partially with renewable resources.

Similar to the ethic shown by Native Americans, technology allows us to use every part of the animal or resource. Timber mills cut logs to maximize lumber, sell leftover bark for use in landscaping and use the rest to generate energy at the mill.

Technology is so powerful that while the economy grew sevenfold between 1946 and 2006, the total weight of inputs to create those goods in 1946 was only slightly less than in 2006.

None of these earth-saving trends came from politicians, although they jumped on the bandwagon later.

Second, we must prioritize to get the most bang for the buck. The very definition of “waste” is to spend resources without receiving the benefit. Conservatives intuitively understand this simple principle of responsible use of resources.

Left-wing environmentalists, however, frequently make excuses for wasting resources on symbolic gestures.

Washington state wastes money subsidizing the rich, giving tax breaks to millionaires who buy $90,000 luxury electric cars. Those millionaires would likely buy electric cars anyway, meaning we get no carbon reduction for the tax cut. I could mention many more examples.

Some environmental activists justify wasteful spending, saying it shows “leadership.” They actually embrace waste because they say it sends a message, even as it spoils opportunities to make real environmental gains.

For example, Washington state boasts the "greenest" prison in the country, touting solar panels that create part of the energy. The state, however, paid $880,000 for panels that will generate about $175,000 of electricity over 25 years. Further, the value of the carbon reduced during that time is only about $10,000. Put simply, the "greenest" prison is more about the symbolism than environmental results.

In a free market, people must prioritize based on effectiveness, not symbols, because they are accountable to the bottom line. Wasteful, ineffective businesses are bankrupt businesses.

Finally, the left loves big, government-run projects that impose one-size fits all policies, like spending billions on light rail, to reduce transportation carbon emissions by only 1 or 2 percent. These costly projects are impressive and dramatic, perfect for politicians.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 6:13 a.m. Inappropriate

"Conservatives, more likely to live in rural areas, surrounded by nature, will downplay environmental politics — but will live the values they express in their private life."

Simply not true.

Conservatives believe that raping the environment for all its natural resources is perfectly legitimate and the 'free market' should win out at all cost.

This article is just an hominem argument with no basis in fact.

elbowman

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 12:17 p.m. Inappropriate

...Unlike your comment, right?

dbreneman

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 8:01 a.m. Inappropriate

You say that conservatives support "raping the environment" and then say my piece is just "an hominem" (I think you meant ad hominem). In the words of Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 8:06 a.m. Inappropriate

Curious then, why conservatives consistently vote for an anti-environmental platform, hold hearings in Congress to decry the lack of evidence on climate change, constantly try to weaken legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act; have slashed spending for the EPA, National Park Service, and US Fish and Wildlife Service; and undermine almost all environmental programs.

Oh yea, I forgot. The market will find better solutions. And all those rural voters - yea, they're on board with the program as well.

Every once in a while CC has a good article or two, but most of the stuff posted is no more factual (or referenced opinion pieces) than a grade school paper on "why I like ponies" or "why I hate vegetables".

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 8:22 a.m. Inappropriate

And just for full disclosure:

The Washington Policy Center does not disclose its donors (no surprise). However, according to Media Transparency, $387,500 has been donated cumulatively to the WPC, WIF, and WIPS. The largest donor is The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc., which has provided the WPC with just under half its funding–$178,500.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is considered the “largest and most influential right-wing foundation” in the United States. As of 2005, the Bradley Foundation had $706 million in assets, and was giving away more than $34 million a year to organizations and institutions. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc. states its mission is “to support limited, competent government; a dynamic marketplace for economic, intellectual, and cultural activity; and a vigorous defense of American ideas and institutions.”

To satisfy this objective the Bradley Foundation supports organizations and individuals that promote the deregulation of business, the rollback of most social welfare programs, and the privatization of government services. Since 1985, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc. has donated $564,992,276 in grant money. Conservative organizations that have received funding from the Bradley Foundation include: the American Enterprise Institute (17,137,797), the Heritage Foundation ($14,293,702), the Hudson Institute ($6,760,560), the George C. Marshall Institute ($3,535,303), the Hoover Institution ($2,501,000), the Competitive Enterprise Institute ($765,040), the Reason Foundation ($957,500), the Cato Institute ($862,500), and the Heartland Institute ($548,000).

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 8:32 a.m. Inappropriate

The WPC operates a “Center for Environment” division that consists of a Director named Todd Myers and a Policy Analyst named Brandon Housekeeper.

According to their website the WPC’s Center for the Environment was launched in 2003 and “focuses on free-market solutions to environmental issues.” In June, 2008, the Center hosted “skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg and fellow climate skeptic Dr. Don Easterbrook for its annual luncheon address.

The Washington Policy Center's stance on climate change is science does not equal public policy, and that science tends to exagerate its observations. In his presentation, “The Difference Between Scientists and Policymakers” at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, sponsored by the Heartland Institute, Todd Myers stated that science is myoptic and scientists conflate science and policy. Further, Myers declared “scientists tend to overestimate their confidence in their assessment of risk.”

To illustrate his point, Myers highlighted the work of the Puget Sound Action Team, which in 2005 claimed that “future sea level rise is likely to accelerate as a result of human-caused global warming, with changes likely in the range of 4-35 inches during the 21st centruy.” Myers then showed work done in 2008 by the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, which claimed the atmospheric contribution to sea-level rises in all areas would be 6 inches by 2100. The evidence he uses does not show an overestimation; in fact it validates the claims of the Puget Sound Action Team as 6 inches falls within their estimation of 4-35 inches.

In conclusion Myers stated the unintended consequences of implementing envirionmental public policy outweigh the positives done by the regulation itself. And, the last point on his power-point presentation is “David Suzuki is absurd and myopic.”

The Washington Policy Center has criticized building standards created by Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) as economically detrimental, environmentally harmful, and providing extremely littlie, and sometimes, no energy savings.

Finally, in the 2004 article, “A Responsible Approach to Climate Change,” the WPC said investing in climate change initiatives was an expensive and poor use of resources. Instead, they prescribed spending resources in programs designed to create wealth in the Developing World as the best way to deal with the issue of climate change and global warming. Why? The explanation is simple, “wealth buffers adversity.”

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 8:40 a.m. Inappropriate

I don't think we've ever received a dime from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and I don't know who they are. But if it is on the Internet, it must be true.

If you have a specific response to something I wrote above, I'd love to hear it.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 9:56 p.m. Inappropriate

He's too busy attacking the messenger.

Simon

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 8:58 a.m. Inappropriate

Yea. Why then doesn't the WA Policy Center just list their funding sources on their website then? Nothing like transparency in government but when it comes to who sources the conservative think tanks, well, that's another matter.

There's nothing to respond to in the article - there are no facts, or well referenced opinions. There's just a string of choice anecdotes chosen --- well, I can't tell why.

But what the hey - here you go. You state:
Conservatives, more likely to live in rural areas, surrounded by nature, will downplay environmental politics — but will live the values they express in their private life

Surrounded by nature - and the chosen picture is a combine in a wheat field. I guess that's nature on some level - about the same as you could describe the town of Moxee (in the caption) as a metropolis.

Let's see what the latest voting record of conservatives are based on the non-partisan League of Conservations Voters:

February 11, 2014
The League of Conservation Voters' newly released National Environmental Scorecard underscores what's become practical wisdom in Washington: Environmental leadership in Congress is divided starkly along partisan lines.
In a year President Obama has taken sweeping executive actions on the environment, House Republicans had the lowest average score since LCV began putting out the scorecard in 1970. Scores are based on a scale of 0 to 100 and calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes cast by the total number of votes tallied (for more on this, see LCV's methodology). Average House Republican scores have dropped steadily in recent years, from an average of 17 percent in 2008, to 10 percent in 2012, down to the low average of 5 percent for 2013.
It's considerably lower even than what congressional Republicans averaged during the Gingrich revolution in the 1990s. In the four years Newt Gingrich was House speaker, the average Republican score was 21.93 percent, according to LCV's records.

Yea - a most excellent voting record. Now will come the reply that the LCV is not a good measure of environmental voting. Good grief.

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 9:28 a.m. Inappropriate

And here's a specific pseudoscience strawman from their website. This is a typical example of throwing a bunch of graphs up in a paper to somehow convince someone that there is a reasonable science review of a complex subject -- when really, the underlying premise is pure BS.

See this charming article on the WPS site by Mr. Myers - http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/sites/default/files/May%202008%20Environmental%20Watch.pdf

Here's a quote regarding the range of temperature rise cited by the UW Climate Impacts Group:
Both groups should know, however, that the statistic is totally meaningless when assessing the local impacts of climate change. Land warms more quickly than water and since the world is
mostly water and the Pacific Northwest and the American West are mostly land, temperatures will always increase more quickly there than the world as a whole. In fact, when world temperatures are decreasing, temperatures over land fall more quickly too.

WTF are you talking about? No shite! Any 8th grader knows that air heats up quicker than water - that somehow is suppose to negate the UW CIG predictions of future air temperature increases and it's effects??
The report then goes on to provide the anomalies of world water/air temperatures - clearly showing the lower rate of anomalies for water.
Duh!

Meanwhile the real scientists have clearly articulated the potential effects of rising land temperatures to snow pack, vegetation communities, pests, agriculture, and human health. It's not some muted index of ocean/land temperatures that is the driving factor for these changes (which are well underway and documented) and the attempt to put up such a strawman is not science - it's obfuscation.
http://cses.washington.edu/cig/reports.shtml

Sure Todd - got any other chaff?

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 10:29 a.m. Inappropriate

It is always a debate as to whether to respond to trolls. As Mark Twain said, "Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."

But, I think this shows how silly Treker's nonsense is. He attacks me for saying that land warms more than water, which was the basis for an intentionally misleading claim from the UW Climate Impacts Group that Washington state will "warm faster" than the worldwide average. He claims my science is wrong and then says there are "lower rates of anomalies for water." Exactly. The anomaly, for those who do not look at climate science, is the projected increase in temperature as compared with the average of the late 20th century. Lower anomalies over water means lower temperature increases over water, which is exactly what I argued.

So desperate is Treker to engage in namecalling ("Any 8th grader knows...") that he/she inadvertently ends up proving my point.

Rather than relying on an 8th grader, why not e-mail Amy Snowver at the UW Climate Impacts Group, since you included them as a source? Ask her if my claim that "land warms more quickly than water" is accurate. Or e-mail anyone else at the UW Atmospheric Sciences Department. You can post their response in the comments.

Put simply, only a myopic city dweller like Treker would attack farmers as anti-environment and see a combine harvesting wheat as evidence that people who surround themselves with concrete and eat bread are more environmentalist than those who live near nature and make bread.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 10:57 a.m. Inappropriate

Of course your claim "land warms faster than water' is a fact!

It just has nothing to do with the discussion of the UW CIG's discussion of how the changes of land temperature will have related consequences in the long-term ecology of the Pacific Northwest. Somehow "lower anomalies over water" which means water temperatures fluctuate less than land temperatures -yes, any 8th grader exposed to an earth science class knows that - is supposed to somehow reflect poorly on the science of the CIG. Dude - you really are out of your league here. Try again.

Nice bait and switch. Now I see you have devolved into name calling--
"myopic city dweller" and "attack farmers as anti-environmental" is a great diversion.

You can always tell when someone is getting desperate in a losing argument - they revert to lies, diversion, and name calling.

Now if you can make a reasonable attempt to take the "water warming" fact (which we all agree on) and walk us through why the CIG predictions for the PNW are false - we'll at least be entertained for a bit.

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 11:14 a.m. Inappropriate

I looked at the WA Policy Center and found the cited report with this quote on the UW Climate Impacts Group:

"Second, while climate alarmists note that temperatures over land are increasing faster than the average, they don’t mention that ocean temperatures are rising more slowly. In an effort to raise the spectre of sea level rise, they don’t want to note that ocean temperatures have increased only slightly. If they are going to claim that risk on land is higher, they are also oblidged (sic) to say that the risk to the ocean is smaller."

This statement tries to paint the CIG in some bad light because they are using rising land temperatures to discuss effects on LAND. Yes, water temperatures vary less than land temperatures - but guess what - the CIG is discussing effects on LAND by rising LAND temperatures. The discussion was not about the "spectre of sea level rise" --it was about the cascading effects of a rising temperature on land. Items such as decreased snow pack, shrinking glaciers, changes in availability of water, etc. are already documented.

What this has to do with less fluctuating sea temperatures is anyone's guess.

Lily32

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 11:35 a.m. Inappropriate

If you read the whole piece my claim was about the alarmist language that said Washington would see more warming than average. The CIG language is not intended to make the issue more clear, it is intended to cause alarm to justify a particular set of policies.

Ironically, as Cliff Mass at the UW notes, Washington state will actually see less warming than most places on the planet.

If you are interested in what I really think about the climate science, here is another Crosscut piece I wrote.
http://crosscut.com/2009/09/10/environment/19197/Sea-rise-climate-change-lets-do-science/

Further, this hearing with Amy Snowver of the CIG and Cliff Mass of the UW Atmospheric Sciences Department is a great primer on the state of climate science and the impact on the Northwest.

http://tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID;=2014031005

Put simply, most people who attack me (or anyone else) on the climate science don't know the science or what I actually think about the science.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 11:26 a.m. Inappropriate

Speaking of distractions, I note that you have still not addressed anything I wrote in the piece above.

Instead you attack me, then agree with me ("Dude"), then claim that I cannot prove something I never said. If you think I am "out of my league," I suggest you send anything I've written on climate science to the CIG or the UW Atmospheric Sciences Department and they can tell me how I don't know what I'm talking about. Hint: I talk with them regularly.

And we wonder why Washington state's environmental policy fails to reduce carbon emissions, clean Puget Sound and reduce air pollution in Pierce County.

Your emotional attack proves my point that environmental policy is based on protecting a self image rather than focusing on environmental results.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 11:41 a.m. Inappropriate

Well, lets see - your claim that conservatives are more environmentally conscious than others - to that I posted the recent voting record of conservatives in Congress - which clearly shows it has dropped off the charts and gone from poor to really, really, really poor. No comment eh?

Then I've also showed how your related opinion pieces on climate change (I say opinion pieces as there is no credible science critique)are either further evidence of your lack of basic science or an extended attempt to put up another stawman argument.

Now - if you just made an argument on how WA climate change POLICY is not working - you could actually gain some ground here. But given the vast majority of your paper trail is littered with attempts to debunk climate science - one seriously has to speculate on your motives. Particularly given who you work for and where your funding comes from.

By the way, why don't you post the 10 highest contributors to WA Policy Center right here to give us a perspective - with a link to the official records. That could heat things up a bit, eh?

Or alternatively you could continue the performance art piece and try to explain your way out of the knot you created regarding the astounding finding that "water warms more slowly that air" and the consequences to the CIG's PNW climate change predictions. "crickets"

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 11:56 a.m. Inappropriate

The League of Conservation Voters is a left-wing group that supports failed left wing policies. That is your problem. You confuse left-wing policies with helping the environment. That is why Washington state has a poor record on the environment because the LCV and WCV push policies that consistently fail (like "green" schools that use more energy).

Instead of using voting scorecards from political groups, I look at actual energy savings, actual reductions in air pollution, actual reductions in water pollution.

It is worth noting that I never mentioned climate science in the entire piece. Ironically, my entire piece is about how free market solutions achieve energy savings and carbon reductions better than political solutions that you defend.

That is the difference between us. You, and others on the left, focus on politics. I focus on results.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 12:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Ahh - there it is - what took you so long. The LCV is a "left-wing" group so their 40 years of rating vote in Congress is invalid.

I also notice that you are now retreating from 1) discussing where your funding comes from, 2) the flim-flam you tried to create on "water temperature warming" and tarring the CIG.

Here's another one of your charming quotes:

“[W]e challenge Sightline to find one climate scientist at the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences who says recent weather patterns (unusually hot in 2009 or unusually cold in 2011), are the result of anthropogenic climate change. I'll give you until the end of the day on Tuesday to find someone.

If I lose, I'll send $50 to the charity of their choice. If I win, they send $50 to KIVA.ORG, to fund entrepreneurs in developing countries

--I also see you have an MA in Russian/International Studies and a BA in Politics -------- a solid science background that has prepared you well for such a profession.

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 12:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Care to share your educational background? You seem to present yourself as The World's Leading Authority.

dbreneman

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 1:21 p.m. Inappropriate

MS Natural Resource Management
PhD - Marine Science

No, I don't just "talk" to folks at UW and the CIG - I work with them and have hired them for projects I lead. So do I know more about the subject than some hired PR gun - you bet!

Treker

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 2:07 p.m. Inappropriate

I concur with (most) of Treker's comments, especially on the science. I'm just a lowly J.D. doing environmental policy analysis, but I have read much of the IPCC reports. It really isn't that difficult to read up on the scientific evidence concerning global warming and the current and projected impacts under various scenarios.

It is patently obvious that Todd Myers is peddling the myth that science is policy. In Myers' world, anyone who actually sticks to the science is "left" and therefore non-credible. He project his ideological policy view onto the science. His logic is full of more holes than a bark beetle eaten tree.

louploup

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 12:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Great. You want to bet? Sightline ducked. They know I'm right.

Note how I consistently appeal to scientists and you to political groups.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 1:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Notice how this statement goes cross-grain to 99.99% of climate scientists.

"“[W]e challenge Sightline to find one climate scientist at the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences who says recent weather patterns (unusually hot in 2009 or unusually cold in 2011), are the result of anthropogenic climate change. I'll give you until the end of the day on Tuesday to find someone.-----Todd Myers, WA Policy Center.

The only folks who are tossing out this garbage are the Tea Party adherents, big industry, and the hacks they hire.

Who, exactly did you say is paying you to do this work? Who are the funding organizations of the WA policy center?

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 2:42 p.m. Inappropriate

Great then, let's bet. If 99.9% of climate scientists think I'm wrong, it should be easy to find one climate scientist at the UW (with whom you work apparently) to say I am wrong.

That fact that you won't bet says everything that needs to be said.

You know that the IPCC and science are on my side.

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 2:11 p.m. Inappropriate

Todd, your framing ("recent weather patterns (unusually hot in 2009 or unusually cold in 2011") is bogus. "Recent weather" is not climate. Either you know that and are just putting out intentionally trolling garbage, or you're an idiot. I don't think you're an idiot.

louploup

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 1:30 p.m. Inappropriate

The problem with this article is the false choice. To write about "Conservatives" and "Left-Wing" is so antiquated that I am surprised anyone of intellect would do it. Does anyone think that the left wing is opposed to electric cars? Switzerland, often cited as a Libertarian/Conservative ideal, invests billions in highly efficient mass transportation systems. Kashima Sawant, a socialist (!) is opposed to increased urban density on the grounds of "gentrification".

Why not pick good ideas from all parts of the political spectrum instead of trotting out these hackneyed, divisive, ancient, "arguments"?

Back to the drawing board, WAPolicyGreen.

andy

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 2:05 p.m. Inappropriate

If this article and the discussion that ensued are characteristic of the tenor of the environmental debate in this state and nation, then we haven’t come far after more than 40 Earth Days.

Rather than simply suggesting that sincere folks can and do have distinctly different views on major environmental issues, the author choose to polarize the debate with labels (left-wingers and big-government supporters vs. conservatives and free-market believers). Predictably, the conversation went downhill from there.

IMHO, there is enough blame to go around regardless of ideology and location. We live in a complex, chemically dependent world. Mistakes are made by people – in government and business - across the political and economic spectrum. Some have been huge: the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill, Fukushima meltdown, Elk River (West Virginia) chemical spill, to name just a few.

The global warming (climate change) debate will certainly engage us for some time – probably beyond the life time of many of us. We will continue to learn more as the recent (5th) IPCC Assessment Report reminds us. We should be prepared for its consequences, and we should try to mitigate its impacts with “no regrets” investments even if we can’t put a price on it.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 3:27 p.m. Inappropriate

Dick, I agree with your general point. It is one reason I actually testified for Jay Inslee's signature climate legislation last year - to the shock of many. His bill included a metric of environmental effectiveness that we supported. I was happy to support a good idea, not matter the source. Sadly, the Governor subsequently ignored that metric in favor of more ideological approaches.

If you truly believe we need to change the tenor of the discussion, I encourage you to post a similar comment on the "big oil" greenwashing article. My experience, however, is that when free market advocates argue their position, there are exasperated sighs from some who lament the unproductive tone. When the left engages in over the top rhetoric and hyperbole, however, they are forgiven.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 4:52 p.m. Inappropriate

“[W]e challenge Sightline to find one climate scientist at the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences who says recent weather patterns (unusually hot in 2009 or unusually cold in 2011), are the result of anthropogenic climate change. I'll give you until the end of the day on Tuesday to find someone.-----Todd Myers, WA Policy Center.

---Sure, why don't we look at this statement more closely. It either is displays ignorance, or willful ignorance of the difference between climate and weather, a data point and conclusions from a huge dataset.

The statement implies that any specific weather event, here, or anywhere in the county cannot be conclusively tied to global warming predictions and therefore climate scientists are wrong.

The first statement is true - no specific weather event can be conclusively tied to climate change. No shit! Again, if you have even a basic understanding of science and statistics - and the difference between a single weather event and aggravate data on climate change - you would not even ask such a stupid question.

Of course no one is going to bet on the question -- the real issue is that is has no relevance in a climate discussion. Any random point from a galaxy of data tells us nothing about the trend of the aggregate.
What we can say is that predictions on climate change - are running way ahead of predictions that were made only 10 years ago. The data clearly show the human caused changes we are causing - predicting into the future of course is harder. The CIG at UW has taken a very conservative predictive course and has bounded three outcomes - low, medium, and high likelihood of occurrence. It's science.

This WPC supposition is another straw man - just like the "look over there" profound statements that "water temperatures fluctuate more than land temperatures" put forth to somehow cast doubt on the science of LAND raising temperature effects on natural resources. Would any credible scientist (or informed 8th grader) take a bet that "water temperature is more stable than air temperature under the same conditions"? Of course not - it's a stupid question and has nothing to do with climate science predictions. It's chaff.

That conservatives actually give a hoot about environmental resources, other than how much money can be made from them is a joke. Can you imagine trying to get some landmark legislation, such as the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act passed in this Congress. Nevermind that these were passed with a Republican president back then.

Conservatives used to be a part of the conversation of environmental protection and offering some counterweight suggestions - that I agree with. But what is identified as the right wing today is at a base lower level - a prime example is the constant attempts to weaken a wide range of environmental law.

Check out the voting records of "conservatives" on the League of Conservation Voters - don't take my word or their word for it - just scroll through the voting records yourself.

These industry funded hacks are out there all over the place - but if you just scratch the service their lack of science understanding - or attempts at confusing the public - are easily revealed.

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 6:12 p.m. Inappropriate

At 12:04 you dredged up my proposed bet on the impact of anthropogenic climate change on weather patterns as evidence that I knew nothing about science.

By 4:52 you were claiming the same statement was obviously true ("No shit!").

You dredged up that quote, not me. You picked the fight over its veracity. At the end of the day you admit it is true.

Even then you say I said "specific weather event" when my quote was clearly about "weather patterns." So you can't even get the quote right from your first paragraph to your fourth.

You call the claim that specific weather events or patterns could be identifiably linked to climate change "stupid." I agree. Yet, Hurricane Katrina was blamed on climate change. Mayor Murray blamed low snowpack this year on climate change, before we got more snow and are now above average. The list of such claims is long.

You reallllllly want to pick a fight about the science. Twice you dredged up quotes to show what a fool I am and each time you end up saying "well, of course you are right, nobody would disagree with that! Any 8th grader knows that!" You've spent a lot of words only to end up agreeing with me.

So, great, we agree. We need to reduce CO2 emissions (Phew. What a ride.). Since you care so much, you should demand that we do it effectively. Washington has had years of control by left-wing legislatures and so-called environmental governors and yet you are still mad. We are still failing, as you acknowledge. Politicians waste money on ineffective policies like the "greenest" prison, "green" schools, corn-based ethanol, etc. Isn't it time for something that works?

The simple fact is that if you believe we need to reduce CO2 emissions, it is the free market, not political feel-good solutions, that have and will continue to make the difference.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 6:34 p.m. Inappropriate

Hmmm. In defense of your straw man you point to - no not scientists, but equally idiotic statements by non-scientists. Another brilliant defense! Congratulations.

If you're premise were solely that leftish policies are have been ineffective in reducing CO2 - then that would not have raised much hackles I would bet.

But you didn't. Your main premise of this article is that conservatives are better friends of the environment than conservatives - which is clearly not the case if you look at the record.

And when one digs into the WPC there is a clear agenda, based on some of your policy papers - to attempt to put out misleading information on climate change - the "water warms slower than land" is a classic example. What a bunch of crap.

The free market has been used as an alternative to government regulation from everything from water pollution to financial systems - and we've seen the aggressive tactics and results of that recently. The problem with the free market, especially with publicly traded companies is that there is so much pressure on short term gains that no one is looking out for long term sustainability.

Wetlands get filled, forests get clearcut, streams get ruined, factories pump out pollution - non of these issues were addressed by the private sector and its why the public demanded changes such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. These regulations have instituted major changes.

As far as CO2 goes - that horse left the barn long ago. Maybe some well developed cap and trade system could help reduce the increase - but I'm not optimistic about any change - from either side of the aisle

I was off work today and unusually able to carry on a conversation on this topic - WTF - did they pay you to respond a bunch of internet comments all day. This is by far the most response I've ever seen by a Crosscut author. Must be feeling pretty defensive eh?

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 9:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Responding to you takes no time at all actually. Pretty simple.

And I enjoy it. The purpose of writing is communication. If you aren't willing to stand by your words, why write?

Plus, I simply pointed out when you contradicted yourself, when you misquoted me, when you called me names, when you quoted political groups instead of scientists, how you belittled farmers, etc. The more you wrote, the better I felt.

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 6:04 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm not a climate scientist - but I'm pretty well read on the subject and I think I'm pretty good in following a logic thread - or noticing when there is a lack of one.

This article tries to be a bit too clever - picking some odd quotes by politicians to make any "environmentalist" or left leaning policy maker an idiot. You can trawl political quotes 'till the dogs come home and you'll find astounding statements on either side of the aisle.

What is more revealing is who conservatives vote for and what public policy those elected officials push for. Take a look at the voting record in Congress and there really is no doubt about the sad state of the conservative approach regarding environmental issues.

Moderate conservatives can't survive primaries these days. Groups like Prosperity for America, the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, etc, go RHINO hunting (republican in name only) and the rise of wacko Tea Party has made the situation even worse.

This is another fluff piece by a paid lobbyist and PR con man

And I agree - how about telling us who funds the Washington Policy Center - what are you afraid of - aren't you guys always crying about government transparency?

Lily32

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 7:20 p.m. Inappropriate

I don't have any more time to engage in this discussion.

My suggestion - if you want to be taken seriously then write a serious article - not this fluff piece.

Otherwise it deserves all the derision it attracts.

Treker

Posted Tue, Apr 22, 9:27 p.m. Inappropriate

Derision? My piece has more "likes" than any of the other articles on the Crosscut front page. Seems like you are outnumbered.

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 7:23 a.m. Inappropriate

Wow. "Likes". That is a good measure of the integrity of an article.

What I would prefer to see on any issue is a thoughtful analysis of a public policy - bolstered by some referenced facts to show why, logically, your analysis is valid.

This piece, by a paid PR person for a conservative think tank with ties to Heartland and other shaky organizations does not rise to a serious article. Dash in a few cutsie examples of rogue lefty environmentalists, toss around some clever quotes about kimchee - and Voila!! The PR representation of a argument.

Maybe this article has been liked so much because the comment section is a thoughtful analysis whereas the article is lacking.

Who was it that said "I don't care what their saying as long as their talking about me"

Ahhh, the live of a snake oil salesman, I mean PR policy analyst.

Lily32

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 9:10 a.m. Inappropriate

Todd - Todd - Todd. What a hack. Always on about the state's green building standards. In which he loves to cite an auditor's assessment without context (i.e., the new LEED buildings use more energy than old school buildings. Which compares apples to oranges. The new buildings are used more intensively, e.g., weekends, evenings, because they are nice and comfortable and modern. But, regardless, each building is different.)

And you know what - rhetorically speaking, as the Governor did, climate deniers like Senator Doug Ericksen are equivalent to those who deny gravity. Willfully ignorant and extremely counter productive.

I do not'like'this column and it seems to me that Crosscut is falling for that false equivalency crap - oh! we need to get a "conservative" viewpoint so that we don't look biased. I encourage Crosscut to read your colleague Jon Talton at the Seattle Times on how to write and present climate change: http://businessjournalism.org/author/jontalton/

Among his many good pointers:
On the other hand, we’re way past the point when the voices of “deniers” need to be included. Indeed, doing so is irresponsible. Beware of Astroturf “think tanks” bankrolled by the fossil fuels industry or such groups as Americans for Prosperity, supported by the Koch brothers.

Saratoga

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 2:16 p.m. Inappropriate

Indeed; why are we wasting time on this flat earth drivel?

louploup

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 9:26 a.m. Inappropriate

BTW - Brendon Housekeeper, Todd's colleague mentioned above, is the main lobbyist for the Association of Washington Business. AWB consistently, absolutely consistently opposes clean energy and energy efficiency legislation, no matter how cost effective the proposed standards are. I'd be a lot more open to reading and listening to Todd and his pals if they weren't so rigid and predictable in their opposition to rules that make economic and environmental sense - i.e., good public policy.

Saratoga

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 10:30 a.m. Inappropriate

Sorry - can't let this go.

Todd is just doing his job. But the headline on this one? That's Crosscut journalism?? That if you live in an urban setting, you you can't be a "real" environmentalist?

Sometimes I live in the city, sometimes I live in the country. No matter where I am, I do my damnedest to reduce my footprint and to try to advance change that reduces pollution of all kinds.

Saratoga

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 10:53 a.m. Inappropriate

Also is the wealth of data that show dense cities have a much lower carbon footprint than rural areas - where housing and commercial areas are spread far apart, there is no public transportation, and you have to drive 20 miles to get your groceries.

Now let's wait for Todd to respond with the one study from - yes -Finland! - that shows something different. Other critiques of that study discuss the income level of the Fins as an outlier - second homes, parallel consumption, etc.

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/urban-or-rural-which-is-more-energy-efficient

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/the-lorax-was-wrong-skyscrapers-are-green/?gwh=8D91C38FD9FB79FBE7B0FC0B5DF06BE5&gwt;=regi

https://www.hcn.org/blogs/goat/new-study-maps-carbon-footprints-comes-to-surprising-conclusions

Those suburbs don't come out to well with McMansions and the need to drive all around either.

Oh yea, cities are safer than rural areas as well!

http://science.time.com/2013/07/23/in-town-versus-country-it-turns-out-that-cities-are-the-safest-places-to-live/

Treker

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 2:30 p.m. Inappropriate

Careful--Recent studies strongly indicate that the 'dense urban areas have a lower footprint argument' is inaccurate:
Fragkias et al 2014 ("Does Size Matter? Scaling of CO2 Emissions and U.S. Urban Areas"; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064727)
Jones and Kammen 2013 ("Spatial Distribution of U.S. Household Carbon Footprints Reveals Suburbanization Undermines Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Urban Population Density"; DOI: 10.1021/es4034364 [The actual study underlying the HCN article.]

Unfortunately, it appears that the statement in the NYT article—"Every new crane in New York City means less low-density development."—is not true. We end up with both because the former doesn't actually diminish the latter. Not yet anyway. The issue of growth, density, footprints, and sustainability is much more complex than initial appearances indicate.

louploup

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 11:39 a.m. Inappropriate

he degree of vitriol this article generated is surprising (thanks Crosscut, thanks Todd Meyers) but I note the intensity seems to come from only one or two commenters. The issue of climate change will be debated for a long time but it's pretty clear, isn't it, that the big life changes the Climate people want us to embrace are not going to happen (it's like telling people “..if you don't learn French your toes will fall off”). Meanwhile the people who espouse CC in the most apocalyptic terms seem to find reason to live large, travel, occupy big homes (Al Gore picture here). If the CC scientists are right we will see the changes, maybe in the next one hundred years, we will adapt and maybe make efforts to undo some of the destructive things we do now and we will probably see a slightly lower world population. But we might see that anyway, even if we stopped vacationing in nicer climates and taking cruises to the Antarctic to observe, first hand, what CC is doing to this world. Meanwhile farmers will have to continue producing food and, if all farmers farmed like Wendell Berry most of us would starve. So would you rather live in a less habitable world or just die now? Pretty easy question to answer.

kieth

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 2:54 p.m. Inappropriate

Seems to me you are buying Todd Myer's argument; the impacts of AGW are not significant so why should we change how we live. Like him, you too conflate policy solutions with the science of impacts and more importantly with the projections of likely further impacts under "business as usual" (BAU) projections. The "issue of climate change" will not continue to "be debated for a long time" because it is obvious to almost all scientists gathering data and conducting analysis on it, and to most of those who are simply paying attention, that the impacts are already occurring. And all BAU scenarios range from moderately unpleasant to really really unpleasant, with an emphasis on the latter the further out you get.

But the bigger problem I have with your perspective is the failure to think beyond the short term. The science is very clear that there is a lag between GHG emissions and attainment of a new thermal equilibrium; best estimates are in the range of decades. We are currently experiencing impacts from the GHGs emitted in the mid to late Twentieth Century, and our rate of spewing has not slowed down.

You do raise a good point about the Wendell Berry method of agriculture. Unfortunately, humans appear to be well beyond the carrying capacity of the planet anyway. Especially if you consider that current agricultural production, and thus current population levels, is heavily dependent on fossil fuels and other limited resources (ever hear of Haber-Bosch or peak phosphorus?). We are approaching the end of an era, and people can whine all they want about scientists pointing out the obvious might impinge on our sacred "policy choices." The planet, frankly, doesn't give a damn.

louploup

Posted Fri, Apr 25, 9:11 a.m. Inappropriate

I don't think you actually read the piece. Nowhere do I say the impacts of AGW are not significant. Feel free to provide a quote from my piece saying AGW is not significant if you disagree.

In fact, my entire argument is that if we truly care about reducing CO2 emissions, we'll stop relying on failed political solutions and turn to the successful, market-based approaches.

If you can defend "green" schools that use more energy, wasting money on solar panels that don't reduce carbon emissions and the like, you are free to do so. But if you care at all about climate change, you should demand environmental effectiveness.

Posted Fri, Apr 25, 9:29 a.m. Inappropriate

Gotta love this. The main "point" of the article is that conservatives are better at protecting the environment than progressives. Rather than refer to any voting record, legislation passed, or milestone policies - the author uses poisoning the well logic buy casting "environmentalists" as dimwits using some cutsie quotes about kimchee. With an easy Google search you can look up the voting record of conservatives in general and by person. The results are predicable.

This represents either a stunning lack of poor writing - or more likely - and in line with the author's affiliations and track record - a juvenile attempt discredit environmental regulations.

Had the author argued that carbon policy is going down the wrong path and offered a thoughtful analysis with a reasoned alternative - it might have fostered a good discussion.

Want to be taken seriously? Write a serious piece - not another poorly written PR piece.

Lily32

Posted Fri, Apr 25, 10:22 p.m. Inappropriate

Your consistent denial of the significance of AGW speaks for itself:

"In other words, according to the climate models, we are at levels in which it is hard to distinguish the CO2 impacts from natural forces." http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/blog/post/climate-data-sounds-meaningfulbut-isnt

Among other denier nonsense from you and others promoted by WPC, like the truly reality proof Dr. Easterbrook.

louploup

Posted Sat, Apr 26, 3:12 p.m. Inappropriate


Actually, Keith, "the issue of climate change" will NOT "be debated for a long time" because humans aren't going to be around to debate it "for a long time".

Given the craven selfishness of people like you we have maybe fifty years of civilization left. There may be remnant populations of humans in New Zealand, Tierra del Fuego and the south Atlantic islands but you can be sure that the great populations of North America, Eurasia and Africa will be dead of hideous diseases, insect torment or simple starvation.

As bad as Revelation paints the picture (and it won't have anything to do with a pissed-off Jesus laying waste to non-believers; this catastrophe will respect no ideology), it will be far worse.

Anandakos

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 12:42 p.m. Inappropriate

Biggest climate changes are not going to happen?. . . IF the scientists are right?

Perhaps, if you've read past FOX news, you've heard that right here in the Puget Sound region the shell fish industry has already suffered huge financial losses due to acidification? Or that the region's electric utility plans are assuming another TWO degree Fahrenheit increase in average annual temperatures by the mid-2020's? That is ten years from now. That thousands upon thousands of acres of forest land - essential for CO2 uptake, controlling water run-off, etc - have died due to pine bark beetles who now overwinter because average temperatures have already warmed so much?

And - who suggested that all farming should be done ala Wendell Berry? But those who advocate for less pesticides - for example - are maybe a teensy bit on stronger ground than you because without those pesky bees to pollinate, yes, in fact, we will starve.

I don't know why so many people advocate for a stronger emphasis on STEM in our education system. What's the point if science and math are treated like astrology.

Saratoga

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 4:18 p.m. Inappropriate

I did not mention honeybees but "colony collapse disorder" is seldom attributed to pesticides. BTW, do you really think referencing FOX News is an effective argument, or just a good put-down of someone who disagrees with you? The two degree increase in average annual temperature was supposed to occur during the LAST ten years. Didn't happen, did it? and an increase in CO2 is harmful to plants? they need CO2 and, as is occasionally acknowledged, higher CO2 will stimulate plant growth. Hardly any of the alarmist climate change predictions of twenty years ago have proved to be accurate… the Arctic ice was supposed to be all gone by now. It does not advance science to make arguments that are only supported by your own cohort of believers. I will grant that the ocean pollution is the most pressing problem and that it appears to be immediate. I am doubtful that the problem of reinstating a healthy ocean will be worth the human cost. The expenditure will be immediate and the reward is maybe a century away. An investment few people will be willing to make. Stabilizing the situation would be a good thing, might even be possible. The climate strategy is obliged to advocate for a lower human population… given their arguments, less people is the preferred route to a balanced earth. Young people should view this with some skepticism. It means no cars, no kids, no house, no travel. Not the dreams of our grandparents.

kieth

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 5:11 p.m. Inappropriate

Yawn. More ignorant spewing.

Lily32

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 6:12 p.m. Inappropriate

Lily32 is correct, but you do make one accurate observation: "less people is the preferred route to a balanced earth." Most people who study the subject (population, carrying capacity) agree that the most humane way to achieve that goal is with more equity. I.e., far less wealth and power imbalance based on gender, geographic location, and race (the three biggest ones I can think of).

The rest of your post—on climate science, sustainability, speed demographic change can happen, impacts and the costs and consequences of mitigation and adaptation—is pretty much devoid of any basis in reality.

louploup

Posted Wed, Apr 23, 1:50 p.m. Inappropriate

Second that. Go talk to Taylor Shellfish, who is the largest producer in Puget Sound. They have had to go to extreme lengths and now - get this - ship their oyster/geoduck/clam spawn over to Hawaii to mature to an age where they are not as susceptible to the lowered pH in Puget Sound due to climate change. Dabob Bay, with some of the best overall water quality in Puget Sound hasn't had an oyster spawn of any average size in over 5 years because of the high pH, which keeps the newly spawned youngsters from being able to pick up calcium. This is a huge rural industry in our state.

The business and conservative community is why there has been, and continues to be no meaningful action towards a climate action strategy. Don't you know - the free market will take care of this all.

The Wendell Berry example is another false alternative. Farmers east of the Cascades most often depend on irrigation water (gasp! from subisidized federal projects. In the overallocated Yakima River basin, who do you think is going to take a hit first when water supplies change due to less snowpack. Yep - farmers. Those many with junior water rights. The ones who think global climate change is a leftist conspiracy.

Lily32

Posted Sat, Apr 26, 3:03 p.m. Inappropriate

So, "WAPolicyGreen", we get that you guys are against LRT and supposedly pro-BRT. Where are you on the Aurora BAT Lanes? State your position, pro or anti?

Where are you on the bus only lanes on the West Seattle Bridge? State your position, pro or anti. How about the continuation up Avalon and through The Triangle? State your position, pro or anti.

The bus lanes on Fifteenth West through Interbay. State your position, pro or anti.

How do you stand on signal pre-emption for the RapidRide lines? State your position, pro or anti.

The list could go on and on. You always trot out "bus rapid transit" as a "lower-cost" alternative to Light Rail, but when actual bus rapid transit, with the necessary amenities to make it reasonably equivalent to driving are also proposed you, like all the folks on the Drivers' Team, scream about the "war on cars".

You people are a bunch of lying flacks for rich guys who actually despise you because of your spineless bootlicking.

Anandakos

Posted Tue, Apr 29, 3:16 p.m. Inappropriate

Is Crosscut so desperate for content it has to publish this silly exercise in stereotypes? It makes David Brooks look positively intellectual.

Generalizations based on "left wing environmentalists" vs. "rural conservatives" are too childish to be taken seriously. Even accepting such broad generalizations as having any value, the idea that conservatives understand responsible use of resources is true only so far as they value their own resources. Conservatives, fighting regulation of pollution, be it air, water, or earth, seek to dump their costs on the world at large. Takers and moochers.

Mr_Jones

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