Framing the Climate Change Debate: If Climate Change is Real, Why Do We Debate it?
It is important to clarify some confusion regarding climate change denial and skepticism to understand the climate change debate.
The Facts: We know “human-impacted climate change is real.” There is no serious debate on whether or not climate change exists; the debate is about “To what extent is climate change a problem? To what extent are humans causing climate change? Also, to what extent can humans combat climate change by adaptation tactics like reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
When talking about the debate over human-caused climate change, it is important to understand that most intellectuals on both sides of the left-right political aisle agree that climate change is real and that humans impact it. The debate is about the extent of our impact both regarding what we can do to cause negative climate change and how we can adapt to fix it.
The subject tends to be highly politicized. Republicans and the right-wing are skeptical of climate science in general, which makes sense politically as the “fix” for climate change often seems to be costly regulation on rural industry. Only extreme skeptics still deny the existence of climate change or the human impact of climate change.
To draw a comparison, the debate over climate change is like the debate over slavery in the mid-1800’s or like tobacco’s negative properties in the 1950’s. Slavery and tobacco’s negative properties were real and a problem, but reacting with drastic measures was going to hurt the rural communities that depended upon a lack of regulation and uncertainty about science.
Thus, the conversation was long, drawn out, and skewed. Still, some change came regarding those other drastic voter issues, and so it can with climate change too.
After all, being moved by the facts is not something that is divided along party lines, and there is only one set of facts.
Consider, Trump had once claimed, “climate change is a hoax by the Chinese” on the campaign trail before he was given Presidential briefings. However, after having access to briefings, his administration changed their opinion.
Trump and his team recently admitted climate change was real and humans impact it. Their stance is now the stance of a more centered skeptic, one who admits the human impact is real but doesn’t see the extent of the impact is severe enough to justify strict regulation.
Ultimately, the answer will be found in a balance of the needs of industrialization and common sense adaptation measures.
Climate science is not about thoughts and feelings; it is about climate science. From this perspective, there is a lot of compelling data that shows us that global warming, climate change, and pollution are all human-impacted problems that must be taken seriously despite political party views.
If sources are telling you that climate change or human-caused climate change is a complete myth, you should be skeptical. I’d equally advise you not to rely on arguments like “97% of scientists agree on any given talking point.” There is stronger and more specific evidence. You can, for instance, point out how a greenhouse works or point to recent data on the average warming of global temperatures or recent erratic weather patterns.
If Trump could change his mind upon seeing the data, you can too, whether you are liberal or conservative. This is a human issue, not a political one.
There are lots of reasonable debates here, but denial, or support based on feelings and not facts, isn’t the basis for any of them.
After all, even if we can’t stop climate change, and even if it turns out that humans aren’t having a big impact, we all know pollution is both real and “not good.” We know we can curb that. We don’t need a study to know that dumping industrial waste is a bad long-term strategy or that the air in Beijing, Baoding, or LA isn’t as healthy to breathe as the clean air of other cities is.
Climate Science: What You Need To Know. Here are the basics of climate change, see the next video if your first instinct is to deny the existence of climate change, as it gives the conservative perspective”.
Are global warming and climate change the same thing?: Global warming is a type of climate change. It is the most problematic type, and it was very heavily politicized in 2000. Thus, the political conversation moved away from this term and toward climate change in general. The main problem is “global warming” implies that the primary symptom will always be warm temperature, and that isn’t actually how the science behind global warming works. So, to avoid inaccurate politicized mix-ups like this, the term climate change is now stressed.
TIP: Want to get the facts on Climate Change? See the EPA’s Climate Change Research.
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of State and ex-CEO ExxonMobil, explains his position on climate change. As I stated above, those who take information seriously don’t debate whether or not human-caused climate change is real; they debate the extent and specifics. See Rex’s position on climate change and a carbon tax. I agree with people like Rex Tillerson after doing my research, and am deeply troubled by the deniers who I feel are presenting a dishonest viewpoint for political purposes.
OPINION: A skeptic, like David Hume, helps us to advance our knowledge, reminding us to question our reason. Tillerson is a skeptic in this way, and this type of skeptic deserves attention. They may rightly use terms like “scientific consensus” or poke holes in the 97% talking point” (see those discussed here). That is valid. However, a skeptic, like a PR person for big oil, does not deserve the same civility or attention. Thus, we can say that climate change skeptics are sometimes Humeian, but others are more sub-Humeian when they spin falsehoods and half-truths for political expediency and payola. We have to separate those skeptics who merit our attention and debate from those PR people who don’t. The best way to do that is to know the climate change facts and when needed, follow the money.
A discussion on global warming and climate change by the less Humeian “skeptics.” In this video, in my opinion as someone who has researched all sides of this debate, Stefan Molyneux sits right at the edge of valid skepticism, being more an Alex Jones type than not. Alex Epstein goes over the line into a big oil PR errand boy. He has very little Alex Jones in him but relays the libertarian big oil skeptic position to a “T” as he is connected to libertarianism and big oil. Read his Wikipedia bio.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Climate change is a political issue because so many giant industries emit CO2. It is not rocket science, although building rockets is one type of industrialization. The question isn’t “is climate change real?” or “should we have adaptive measures and reasonable regulation?” It is “to what degree are humans causing climate change, and to what extent can we do something about it in terms of individual action, national or international policy, and other non-governmental collective measures?” In the end, the problem is that we don’t have the answer to all the questions surrounding climate change. We need for further funding, study, and serious discussion.
- Rex Tillerson Says Climate Change Is Real, but …
- China tells Trump climate change is not a Chinese hoax