IT’S REASSURING to imagine we are, by and large, rational beings who base our judgments and decisions on the best evidence we can muster.
The scientific evidence suggests otherwise.
Nowhere can the limits of human rationality be more forcefully encountered than in how we have collectively failed to respond to the existential threat posed by climate change.
Recessions threaten our jobs and income, while fears about terrorism or crime may undermine our sense of well-being. Climate change is uniquely different in that at its heart, it threatens to unravel our most fundamental assumption: that we, as individuals, indeed, as a species, have a future at all.
If this comes as a surprise, you are by no means alone. “We have Palaeolithic emotions, medieval institutions and God-like technologies,” is how noted Harvard biologist EO Wilson framed our dilemma. Many scientists suspect the general public is too wedded to magical thinking and heuristic reasoning to truly grasp the implications of what climate science has been spelling out with ever-greater urgency for the last two decades. This is at best a limited explanation.
Evidence from behavioural and brain sciences points to the fact that “the human moral judgment system is not well equipped to identify climate change – a complex, large-scale and unintentionally caused phenomenon – as an important moral imperative”, according to a recent article in the science journal, Nature Climate Change.
The following paragraph is the only place where the words “climate change” appear in the 2012 Republican National Platform.
A Failed National Security Strategy
The current Administration’s most recent National Security Strategy reflects the extreme elements in its liberal domestic coalition. It is a budget-constrained blueprint that, if fully implemented, will diminish the capabilities of our Armed Forces. The strategy significantly increases the risk of future conflict by declaring to our adversaries that we will no longer maintain the forces necessary to fight and win more than one conflict at a time. It relies on the good intentions and capabilities of international organizations to justify constraining American military readiness. Finally, the strategy subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy, and international health issues, and elevates “climate change” to the level of a “severe threat” equivalent to foreign aggression. The word “climate,” in fact, appears in the current President’s strategy more often than Al Qaeda, nuclear proliferation, radical Islam, or weapons of mass destruction. The phrase “global war on terror” does not appear at all, and has been purposely avoided and changed by his Administration to “overseas contingency operations.”
Mr. Romney has plainly decided that satisfying his party’s antiregulatory base is essential to his political future. But the policies he espouses would be devastating for the country and the planet.
Today he is a proclaimed skeptic on global warming, a champion of oil and other fossil fuels, a critic of federal efforts to develop cleaner energy sources and a sworn enemy of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The man who once worried about climate-driven sea-level rise in poor countries like Bangladesh now says things like “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” as if mainstream science were wrong and humans had nothing to do with it.
Climate change is the largest, most important threat we face. It’s unacceptable that President Obama has ignored the issue for the last 3 plus years. It’s equally unacceptable that former Governor Romney has flip-flopped on climate change and become a cheerleader for fossil fuels We need leaders who will fight for our future, not politicians who jump at the chance to sell us out. It’s time for sportsmen to stand up and demand that whoever occupies the White House next year takes immediate action to address global warming. If we don’t defend our hunting & fishing, and our kids & grandkids, we’re going to lose everything we care about.
Yesterday we shared a story on our Facebook page about Virginia lawmakers who decided that terms like “sea level rise” and “climate change” were too “left wing” to use in new legislation. According to the The Virginian-Pilot, “Now it appears that ‘climate change’ and ‘sea level rise’ are being phased out, in Virginia at least, amid political pressure from the far right.’”
Enough is enough. Climate change is real. The doves and deniers who dispute the overwhelming scientific evidence are endangering not only our hunting & fishing, but also our economy, our national security and our children. As decent, rational American sportsmen, it is our duty to stand against the radical know-nothings who are trying to ban terms like “sea level rise” and “climate change” from our vocabulary.
We will not allow anti-science radicals to censor our scientists. We will not sit on the sidelines while know-nothings destroy the America we love and cherish. Global warming is real. Climate change is the single largest threat we face. As Conservation Hawks, we will do everything we can to defend our hunting & fishing and pass on a healthy natural world to our kids and our grandkids. We hope that you'll stand with us.
Conservation Hawks Condemn Heartland Institute
Heartland Institute advertising “experiment” compares Americans who accept
the reality of climate change with “murderers, tyrants and madmen.”
BIGFORK, Mont. – Conservation Hawks, Inc., a group of hunters and anglers working to defend America’s sporting heritage, has released the following statement:
The Heartland Institute recently compared Americans who accept the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change to the Unabomber, and to mass murderers Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden. According to the Washington Post, “A stark mug shot of domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski briefly took center stage in the increasingly ugly debate over climate change Friday as the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank funded by major corporations, launched a billboard campaign equating people convinced that global warming is real to the convicted killer."
If we accept the Heartland Institute’s premise, every single hunter or angler who believes our planet is warming is in league with a serial killer. In Heartland’s own words, “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”
This kind of warped, twisted rhetoric is an insult to every American who hopes to pass on a healthy natural world to future generations. When the Heartland Institute ran this ad, it not only took direct aim at our hunting and fishing, it also put our children and grandchildren squarely in the cross-hairs. This dishonest attack must not go unchallenged.
Conservation Hawks is working with America's hunters and anglers to address the single gravest threat on the horizon - climate change. We condemn the intellectually bankrupt and morally bereft Heartland Institute.
Paul Douglas, the Republican meteorologist who recently penned an excellent essay on climate change and climate denial, is at it again. He has a new piece out in Business Week with the surprising, if obviously accurate, title, Climate Change Unrelated to Gore.
A little taste:
The millennium’s first decade was the warmest on record and included nine of the 10 hottest years. Greenhouse gas levels are at their highest in 800,000 years. Less heat is escaping the top of the atmosphere in the wavelengths of greenhouse gases. For the first time, scientists have recorded both hemispheres are warming – and the global temperature spike can’t be linked to an astronomical trigger, such as solar variability. Great Lakes peak ice has seen a 71 percent drop since 1973. Winters are shorter. Lakes melt earlier. Plants are moving north.
Worldwide, 95% of land-based glaciers are losing mass. September Arctic sea ice has lost 10 percent of its area every decade. Sea levels are rising. Oceans are 30 percent more acidic. Flooding and extreme storms are spiking in frequency and intensity. Last winter was the 4th warmest on record, despite the cooling influence of a La Nina phase in the Pacific.
Extremes are becoming more extreme. And none of it has anything to do with Al Gore.
Read the entire essay here.
When you have a second, swing over to the Forecast The Facts website and sign their petition. The least we can ask from our meteorologists is that they steer clear of climate denial and stick to actual science.
A couple weeks back, Scientific American, winner of the prestigious 2011 National Magazine Award for General Excellence, published a story titled “Global Warming Close to Becoming Irreversible.” The lead was just as bad: “The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.”
One of the reasons we feel such a sense of urgency at Conservation Hawks is that we simply don’t know how much time we have left before feedback mechanisms kick in and catastrophic climate change becomes our new reality. We’re currently on track for temperature increases of 10 degrees F. or more this century, and an increase of that magnitude would absolutely devastate the biological systems of our planet, not to mention our kids and grandkids, and our hunting & angling.
We have a big board meeting coming up this weekend and we’d like to hear your suggestions on the front end. What’s the best way to break through to your fellow hunters & anglers on climate change? How would you get their attention? How would you convince them of the seriousness of the issue without turning them off with excessive “doom & gloom?” If you have thoughts you’d like to share with the Conservation Hawks Board of Directors on climate change, here’s your opportunity. We’d love to hear from you before our meeting.
What other group of people, large or small, past or present, would you compare to climate change deniers? Two requirements. Your suggestion has to be accurate, and it has to be suitable for publication.
Here’s an example. Flat Earthers. The example works because deniers share their obvious disdain for science. But it’s been done a fair amount and we’d like to come up with something new; something that paints an accurate picture yet still elicits a strong emotional response.
Let’s skip the standard political fare. Deniers aren’t like Communists or Nazis of Fascists. They may have chosen willful ignorance over enlightened scientific understanding, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad people. Perhaps they’ve been taken in by the wrong radio personality, or listened to the wrong friend or relative.
So drop us a note and let us know your thoughts. Climate doves & climate deniers are putting our hunting & fishing, and our children & grandchildren, at risk. That’s obvious. But it doesn’t mean they’re malicious. So think it over and then share your thoughts. Who should we compare them to?
We don’t typically focus on the left vs. right aspect of climate change here at Conservation Hawks. Climate shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and we don’t want to reinforce the status quo by buying into the conventional wisdom on politics. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: both major political parties should compete to offer the best policy solutions to the most important issue of our time.
But we also have to face facts. Many sportsmen are conservatives, and a fair number of conservatives are skeptical of manmade climate change. So with that in mind, we’re going to bring the Douglas piece front and center. We recommend you read the entire essay, but in the meantime here are a handful of the money quotes. Please let us know what you think in the comment section.
“I’m going to tell you something that my Republican friends are loath to admit out loud: climate change is real. I am a moderate Republican, fiscally conservative; a fan of small government, accountability, self-empowerment, and sound science. I am not a climate scientist. I’m a meteorologist, and the weather maps I’m staring at are making me uncomfortable. No, you’re not imagining it: we’ve clicked into a new and almost foreign weather pattern. To complicate matters, I’m in a small, frustrated and endangered minority: a Republican deeply concerned about the environmental sacrifices some are asking us to make to keep our economy powered-up, long-term. It’s ironic. The root of the word conservative is “conserve.” A staunch Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, set aside vast swaths of America for our National Parks System, the envy of the world. Another Republican, Richard Nixon, launched the EPA. Now some in my party believe the EPA and all those silly ‘global warming alarmists’ are going to get in the way of drilling and mining our way to prosperity. Well, we have good reason to be alarmed.”
“Trust your gut - and real experts. We should listen to peer-reviewed climate scientists, who are very competitive by nature.”
“I truly hope these scientists turn out to be wrong, but I see no sound, scientific evidence to support that position today. What I keep coming back to is this: all those dire (alarmist!) warnings from climate scientists 30 years ago? They’re coming true, one after another – and faster than supercomputer models predicted.”
“Human emissions have grown significantly over the past 200 years, and now exceed 27 billion tons of carbon dioxide, annually. To pretend this isn’t having any effect on the 12-mile thin atmosphere overhead is to throw all logic and common sense out the window.”
“I’m a Christian, and I can’t understand how people who profess to love and follow God roll their eyes when the subject of climate change comes up. Actions have consequences. Were we really put here to plunder the Earth, no questions asked? Isn’t that the definition of greed? In the Bible, Luke 16:2 says, ‘Man has been appointed as a steward for the management of God’s property, and ultimately he will give account for his stewardship.’ Future generations will hold us responsible for today’s decisions.”
“If you don’t want to believe thousands of climate scientists – at least believe your own eyes: winters are warmer & shorter, summers more humid, more extreme weather events, with a 1-in-500 year flood every 2-3 years.”
“This is a moral issue.”
“We don’t have much time.”
Then the World Meteorological Organization reported that 2011 was the warmest La Nina year ever, and that “The 2002–2011 ten-year average of 0.46°C above the 1961–1990 mean matched 2001–2010 as the world’s warmest ten-year period on record. This was 0.21°C warmer than the warmest ten-year period of the twentieth century, 1991–2000. In turn, 1991–2000 was clearly warmer than previous decades, consistent with a long-term warming trend.” They also called the rate of global warming “remarkable.”
Then a new climate analysis in the journal Nature Climate Change stated: “It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming.”
Not that facts will ever overcome willful ignorance, but it’s definitely getting much more difficult for anyone truly interested in learning the truth about climate change to call himself (or herself) a skeptic. There’s just too much evidence to the contrary.
Hawks are vigilant, passionate and protective. They tackle problems head-on and they advocate for strong, direct action. That’s true across the board, whether you’re talking about military hawks, fiscal hawks, foreign policy hawks, deficit hawks or conservation hawks.
Doves usually fly in the other direction. They’d rather discuss a problem than do something concrete. They want to study the situation and then study it some more. They’re worried about the possible consequences of their actions, and they almost always favor a passive approach.
Hawks feel they have a real stake in the fight. They want to protect our country, our way of life, our American heritage and our kids and our grandkids. They’re conservatives in the true sense of the word. Our most famous conservationists were all hawks - Aldo Leopold, George Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt ...
History hasn’t treated doves so kindly. One of the 20th century’s most famous doves - Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime minister who attempted to appease Nazi Germany with diplomacy - was succeeded by an equally famous hawk, Sir Winston Churchill, who led the fight against Hitler’s war machine and told England, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."
And now we find ourselves drawing lines in the sand yet again. On one side are the doves who tell us there is no climate problem. Or if there is a problem, we’re not responsible for it. Or if we are responsible, there may not be anything we can do about it. In any case, the situation needs more study and more discussion before we can even think about addressing it.
On the other side are the hawks. We recognize that the climate threat is real, that the science is solid, and that it’s our sacred duty to defend our sporting heritage and pass on our hunting & fishing to future generations. Furthermore, we understand the true nature of this fight. Climate change is a moral issue and those of us fighting for our future and our kids & grandkids hold the high ground.
So here’s the question of the day in black & white. Where do you stand? Are you a conservation hawk or a climate dove?
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Back in 1992 a fellow by the name of Motorcycle Mike was a fixture in Last Chance. If you believed his stories, Mike had at various times been a heart surgeon, a tarpon guide in the Florida Keys, and a Colonel in the military. Regardless, Mike spent the spring and summer of ‘92 sweeping the floor in the A-Bar and doing odd jobs for businesses and homeowners. During our occasional conversations it became painfully clear that Mike knew next to nothing about trout fishing or the Henry’s Fork.
Now none of this would have mattered if Mike didn’t occasionally ride his motorcycle to the river, find a prominent position on the bank, and dispense his angling wisdom to every drift boat that floated past.
When it happened to me - and it did - my clients invariably wanted to know who this guy was, and why he was telling us to fish with different flies and different techniques. Which left me little choice but to tell them the truth - that Mike was clueless. He honestly had no idea what he was talking about. As I explained to my clients, if we followed his advice we wouldn’t catch a single fish.
Did I enjoy telling my anglers about Motorcycle Mike? No, I didn’t. It was actually embarrassing to talk about him. Who knows what deep seated psychological urge led him to shout instructions about a subject he didn’t understand? But when people asked - and they did - I felt like I had to be honest.
So why am I bringing up Mike right now? Because I’m running across more and more people who act just like him. They send me information about climate change or ocean acidification that they’ve found on the web - information that either has no scientific validity or is, at best, of questionable origins - and then they’re amazed when I don’t shout “Hallelujah!!!!” and hand them my shotgun.
I’m not sure where this alternate reality comes from, or why so many people are willing to dismiss the huge - and I truly do mean “huge” - preponderance of scientific evidence on climate change while relying on dubious information from dubious sources. All I can say for sure is that the Motorcycle Mike analogy is almost perfect. We’re paying our top climate scientists to row us down the river, yet we can’t stop listening to the crazy guy shouting from the bank.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Here’s a taste for those of you interested in climate models:
“Several modelers ran both cases 1 and 2 described above—one including human-induced changes and one with only natural sources. This experiment showed that the projections of climate models are consistent with recorded temperature trends over recent decades only if human impacts are included. The divergent trend is especially pronounced after 1980. By 2005, calculations using natural sources alone underpredict the actual temperature increases by about 0.7 degrees Centigrade, while the calculations including human sources track the actual temperature trend very closely.”
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
If our scientists are right and we don’t address climate change while there’s still time to do so, the longterm costs are obvious. We will lose some, or all, of our hunting and fishing. Depending on location, we may experience coastal erosion and flooding, severe storms, longer and more severe droughts, catastrophic wildfires, etc. These impacts will make it more difficult to grow food, provide clean drinking water and engage in profitable business activities. We will make our oceans more and more acidic. We will see more government intrusion at every level, and we will have fewer personal liberties. We we will become engaged in foreign conflicts as fossil fuels supplies deplete and populations shift across political borders to move away from climate disasters. Oh, and our kids & grandkids will curse us for sticking our heads in the sand.
If we do address climate change and our scientists are wrong - meaning there is no climate change and we act on it regardless - we will save most, or all, of our hunting and fishing. We will wean ourselves away from our dependence on fossil fuels. We will stop sending $1 Billion per day abroad to fund oil-rich despots and terrorists. We will greatly reduce air pollution and mercury poisoning. We will stop acidifying our oceans. We will create a new renewable energy economy that will drive America forward for the foreseeable future. We will reduce our military burden and disentangle ourselves from the politics of Middle Eastern oil. We will make it easier on ourselves to grow food and procure water. We will limit government intrusion in our lives. And with a little luck, our kids & grandkids may even say a few nice things about us.
So we have two alternatives. One saves our hunting & fishing and gives our kids & grandkids a fighting chance - while driving our economy forward - yet greatly reduces profits for the fossil fuel industry. The other ensures continued profits for the fossil fuel industry at the cost of everything we care about, including our kids & grandkids and our hunting & fishing. Those are our choices.
Here’s the bottom line. There are no viable reasons to ignore climate change. None. As “Guest” rightly pointed on in the comment section, “as a practical matter, you'd be a fool to deny climate change ...” Truer words have never been spoken.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Not too long ago, M.I.T. put out a study showing that temperatures could rise by more than 10 degrees F. this century if we don’t get a handle on our greenhouse gas emissions. That kind of temperature increase would destroy fish and wildlife habitat all over the planet and leave humanity in (and on) a world of hurt. Our kids and our grandkids, not to mention our hunting & angling, would be completely screwed.
I think we can all agree that trashing everything we care about and leaving our children a sick planet is a really bad idea. Still, the debate rages on. Is global warming real? Are the climate projections correct? Are the scientists right?
Now set those questions aside for a second and focus on a more important one instead. What kind of risks are we willing to take with our future?
Last I heard, our top scientists were saying with 90% or greater certainty that the earth’s climate is warming and that humans are causing much of the temperature increase. But let’s throw out that 90% figure. For argument’s sake, let’s stipulate that the odds are lower and drop them all the way down to 50%. Is it moral for us to reduce our future to the toss of a coin? Heads we win, tails we’re toast? Is that a wager we’re willing to make?
You know what? The heck with 50%. Let’s cut it all the way down to 20%. Let’s say there’s only a 20% chance that those incredibly smart scientists at M.I.T. have their projections right. Would you let your kids play in the road if there was a 20% chance they’d get run over by a truck? Would you let them swim across the river if you knew there was a 20% chance they’d drown?
Here it is in black & white. None of us can say for sure what’s going to happen in the future. We can offer educated guesses, but the reality is that we simply don’t know. But no rational human being should be willing to bet everything we care about - every last thing; our hunting and fishing, our kids and grandkids - that our scientists are wrong. That’s the act of a madman or a sociopath.
There’s not a person alive who can guarantee with absolute certainty that our scientists are mistaken. And since that’s the case, the folks on the other side of this issue are literally asking us to play Russian Roulette with our future. I don’t give a damn how many bullets are in the revolver; there’s no way I’m putting that barrel against my son’s head and pulling the trigger.
Climate change is a moral issue. It’s the moral issue of our time. We don’t need to focus on scientific certainty. We simply have to ask ourselves if we’re willing to wager everything we care about - our hunting & fishing; our kids & grandkids - that our experts are wrong. I’ll tell you one thing right now. I’m not going to make that bet.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
There’s a huge difference between someone who says “I know all I need to know.” and someone who says “We know enough to act.” Unfortunately, folks who want to muddy the waters on climate change choose to ignore this distinction. People in the “I know all I need to know” category - and there are a few around - truly aren’t interested in science, or in the pursuit of truth. They’re only interested in facts that confirm their personal views. We Conservation Hawks, on the other hand, always support more science and ongoing research. Yet at the same time, we realize that we don’t always have the option of waiting for more data.
I’m not sure any of us ever have all the information we need to make a truly informed decision. There are always going to be things we don’t know, and we have to weigh our uncertainties against the costs of inaction. But there comes a time when the available evidence and the available science tell us to move forward, and we’ve reached that point with climate change
As for “authority” or “consensus” - we all have to make a personal decision on when to defer to people with more knowledge and more experience, and when to disagree and stand apart. Unfortunately, climate deniers play on this uncertainty by casting doubt on climate data and criticizing the motives of scientists. For example, the person who made the comments above also called members of the National Academy of Sciences “lazy” and “spineless.” Does anyone really believe he (or she) would use that same language, or make those same charges, if the science supported his position?
At the end of the day, we need to make our own decisions on climate change. We can listen to the overwhelming majority (97%-98%) of climate scientists, and to all the major scientific organizations, and we can choose to believe what we see with our own eyes. Or if that approach doesn’t appeal to us, we can side with the 2% or 3% of climate scientists who remain unconvinced of anthropogenic climate change, and with the oil & gas companies who make huge profits off our addiction to fossil fuels, and with anonymous internet deniers who are unwilling to reveal their names or credentials but who like to tell us - loudly, and repeatedly - that they know more than the experts.
With our hunting and fishing on the line, and with our kids and grandkids at risk, that’s a pretty easy choice to make.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner