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The Right Questions On Climate Change

by David D. Eisenhower (Principles: Military Restraint, Bipartisanship) - 10 month ago

We owe it to the victims of Harvey and Irma to have a real debate about what government can do to stop us from harming the Earth - and ourselves.

Scott Pruitt is wrong. After being hit with two devastating hurricanes, now is the time to talk about climate change. And overdevelopment. And deforestation. We need to talk about everything we need to do to stop harming our environment and start repairing it. There is no time left for idiotic theories about a massive global warming conspiracy by scientists just as we need to stop the nonsense of dismissing people with questions as “climate change deniers.”  

To move the debate forward we need to stop asking the wrong questions and instead replace them with questions that will produce productive answers. My summary of the Wrong and Right questions is below. I invite you to add your own by commenting on this article.

The Wrong Questions:

Is the climate changing? If so, is this bad for humanity? If so, is human activity contributing to climate change? We should not spend a single minute debating these questions because science, logic, and intuition all tell us that the answer to all of these questions is yes. Read any of the 97% of scientific papers on this subject if you don’t believe me.  However, the left is wrong when they assume that accepting the “climate change trilogy” also means that you must favor the Paris Agreement, be a proponent of unlimited spending on wind and solar power,  and oppose the development of fossil fuel resources. Saying yes to these questions is merely stating the obvious; that human activity is contributing to something that is bad for humanity.  

Were Hurricanes Harvey and Irma (and Katrina and Sandy before them) made worse by climate change? Science tells us is that climate change will contribute to hurricanes being more powerful and more destructive. However, science does not claim to have the ability to tell us that a particular hurricane caused more damage than it would have caused without climate change. We shouldn’t waste time asking questions that we can’t answer.

Which played a larger role in causing the catastrophic flooding from Harvey - climate change or  overdevelopment?  The fact that we are even asking this question provides all the information we need. The question stems from the very valid premise that human activity contributed to the damage done by Harvey. That means that a change in our behavior would be advantageous. Let’s stop there and begin creating an action plan for mitigating future catastrophes by asking……   

The Right Questions

What information do we need in order to make the right decisions? This question is not an excuse to do nothing. There are plenty of decisions we can make now without additional data.  However, as the decisions become more difficult, more data will be needed and we need to start collecting it now.

Given that the U.S. government is already heavily in debt, what are the most cost effective steps we can take to change irresponsible human activity? Throwing money at the problem is the worst possible answer. We need to be smart and not lose sight of economics and politics. Laws have winners and losers. If they have too many losers, they don’t get passed.

What are the true environmental costs of each form of energy – oil, natural gas, coal, wind, solar, nuclear? The left simplistically labels fossil fuels as bad, wind and solar as good and nuclear as both. If we are to come to a politically viable solution, however, we must have a better understanding of the relative costs of maintaining the mix we have vs. switching to a different mix.

What steps should government take to ensure maximum cooperation from the private sector? If businesses came to the conclusion that they needed to do everything possible to fight climate change and overdevelopment, government would not have to step in at all. What does government need to do in order to provide appropriate incentives to private industry?

Since we can’t solve climate change by ourselves, should we even bother to try? A corollary to this is the common refrain of the right that since China and India are continuing to burn coal, why should we have to stop? The question is ridiculous because of course we need to try. The actions of America both in mitigating climate change and adapting to climate change are essential to the survival of many of our own cities. The sooner we begin to act responsibly, the sooner we will be able to negotiate with others to make sure they do the same.

We owe it to the victims of the most recent hurricanes as well as to the victims of future hurricanes, droughts, blizzards. tornadoes and heat waves to start working together and end the petty partisan nonsense that has paralyzed us for far too long.

Please join the discussion by adding your own Right and Wrong questions that we should be asking.  

Comments and Responses (1)

General Comments
By  Jayef Kennedy - 10 month ago
Right Question: Do you care more about the oil lobby than you do about your grandchildren? Come on. There is a limit to being balanced and fair. We call Republicans "Climate Change Deniers" because......... they deny that climate change is happening. You can keep talking about how the left is wrong about this and the right is wrong about that but until these Republicans decide that their grandchildren are more important than oil money, the debate is going nowhere - regardless of which questions are asked.
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