The good news about global warming in the United States, I think, is that the "deniers," as they're called, have now been relegated to the fringe. The candidates from both parties have mitigation strategies (which isn't to say they are equally good--see this chart). The debate about whether or not there is such a thing as anthropogenic (is there a reason why a scientist can't just say man made?) global warming is over.
Now the question is: what do we do?
Now, I have no special expertise in these issues and I don't have the answers, but I will tell you this: when I went tonight to the blogs of the people I like to think might, I got my month's second big disappointment (read about the first here). I discovered that U.S. climate change mitigation policy wonks seem to be wasting their time in ad hominem attacks on each other.
Of course, there are some very legitimate policy questions to be debated. But instead of just debating them, Joe Romm of Climate Progress and Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute, all of whom I greatly respect, have, in the last week, fallen into a bout of name calling on their blogs (look especially at the comments in this post).
Some of the top brains in the country are literally burning precious hours arguing about "who started it."
The way I figure it, the executives at Exxon are rubbing their hands together. The more everybody fights about what to do, the more the world's journalists get confused and write about the fights instead of the issues, the longer we take to change, the more gas Exxon gets to sell.
Apparently, the big insult among climate change policy wonks is to be called a "delayer"--meaning to delay doing anything about climate change. Well, while the wonks argue instead of synthesize, in my book, they're all delayers. Where's a Karl Rove type to keep people from airing dirty laundry when you need him?
The pity of it all, from what I can tell, is that the pugilists on both sides of the fight believe in investment to develop new renewable energy technology, deploying existing renewable technology immediately, and capping allowable carbon emissions to help spur the previous two. It's just one side wants invest, deploy, cap, in that order, and the other wants cap, deploy, invest.
Now, I'm just a schlub and I'm not sure who's right and I sure don't know "who started it." But from where I sit downstream of the conversation, the name calling in public, if the object is to focus political will on doing something about climate change (an object the different camps clearly share), does nothing but damage.
Because in my view, the main challenge, in the United States, is still convincing our fellow citizens that climate change should be one of our top three agenda items. Public bickering by the messengers who should be delivering this message will not attract voters to the cause.
So no more of this in the future, you guys, and get back to your excellent work.
PS Thankfully, they do seem to have hugged it out.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.