Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Climate Change: A Conservative Viewpoint

I have been mystified for some time as to why conservatives and particularly Republicans reject climate science.  I know of several climate scientists who are conservative Republicans who believe the evidence that the earth is warming and that humans are the primary driver of that warming.  Chris Mooney has written extensively about the "Republican War on Science" and he makes a compelling case.

The idea of the enhanced greenhouse effect is not a conservative or liberal view.  It is soundly based on the physics of infrared radiation and the data.  I believe the science and the data.  The evidence for anthropogenic global warming is overwhelming.  No one has ever substantiated the claim that the data is doctored.

There are a few conservative Republicans in South Carolina who do believe the science, but they are few and far between.  Much of what we hear from conservatives is not substantiated by the facts.  So I was surprised by a conservative viewpoint I stumbled upon over the holidays on the website Skeptical Science.

Peter Wehner wrote several blog posts that I think everyone, especially conservatives, should read. He is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Previously he worked in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. In the last of which, he served as deputy assistant to the president.

His posts are in the neo-conservative magazine Commentary and can be found here:

Conservatives and Climate Change - Part 1

Conservatives and Climate Change - Part 2

and a response post:

Conservatives and Climate Change: Facts Need To Be Our Guiding Star

As Tom Smerling writes on Skeptical Science "It seems to me that anybody who cares about climate should listen respectfully and engage with people like Wehner who say it is time for conservatives to join the conversation about market-based solutions, rather than pretend that the problem doesn't exist."

My sentiments exactly.  My problem with many of the Republican candidates is that they ignore the science and believe that the problem does not exist.  It does, and acting like an ostrich is not a solution.  As a meteorologist I understand the science, the uncertainties, and the potential outcomes.  We are currently failing miserably at mitigation and adaptation.  The costs will climb exponentially as time passes.

The country has many problems that need to be address in the near future (i.e, national debt, deficit spending, housing, jobs, entitlements, poverty, and an aging population among others).  This is just one of them, but time is running out to address them in a timely and cost-effective manner.