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Climate change is a threat to the conservative moral worldview

Tim Dean (Ockam's Beard blog, graduate student of Moral Philosophy) wrote this absolutely excellent piece on why climate change is such a threat to conservatives that they HAVE to keep denying it, no matter how much evidence is accumulated. Naturally there are tremendous economic interests behind this denialism, but his piece really brought something new to my mind: why climate change threatens the moral worldview of conservatives. In a nutshell, because hard work must ALWAYS be rewarded, and in this case, human "hard work: is being "punished" by the natural world that reacts to the destruction of the environment.

 

I post excerpts here, but read the whole thing, it's priceless.

 

Why conservatives are climate change sceptics

 

Excerpts:

 

And why is it many conservatives appear to be immune to the overwhelming scientific evidence and rational argument that suggests anthropogenic climate change is real?

The simple fact is it’s because, to conservatives, climate change is not about science or economics. To conservatives, climate change is a moral issue.

And the moral worldview adopted by many conservatives predisposes them to reject the very notion of anthropogenic climate change well before any evidence or reason has a chance to interject.

Why a moral issue? Because politics is, for many, an inherently moral subject: it has to do with the duties and obligations of those in power over the people. And when it comes to morality, and how we form our moral attitudes, it’s (sadly) not reason that is the prime mover, but psychology, emotion and ultimately our implicit worldview.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Characteristic of the conservative worldview is a general tendency to see nature as hostile, as being a force at odds with humanity, something to be conquered and exploited for our benefit. Leave nature alone, and it won’t show us any mercy. It’s survival of the fittest, you know.

Add to this the implicit idea the world is a meritocracy, and you can see how a conservative might lean away from environmentalism which, to them, just seeks to prevent hard-working individuals from exploiting nature for humanity’s benefit, and seeks to pervert the natural order by preventing enterprise in order to protect a few trees. Jobs over frogs, and all that.

Anthropogenic climate change represents a fundamental threat to this conservative moral worldview. First of all, it challenges the notion that hard work is rewarded. Instead, it suggests our hard work and our striving for better living conditions for humanity has resulted in harming ourselves and our environment.

As a consequence, action against climate change requires that we value the environment over humanity, that we kowtow to a hostile and uncaring nature, and that we effectively cease rewarding enterprise.

Instead, we embrace the very anti-meritocratic policies that the political Left love and conservatives hate: common good over individual enterprise; equality over freedom; softness over strength. Taxing polluters (the hard working industries that provide us with the energy that makes our lifestyle possible) and redistributing that to individuals who haven’t earned it is gut wrenchingly unfair to the conservative worldview.

To conservatives, climate change represents a surrender to progressivism, it undermines the conservative belief in being rewarded for hard work, and it places nature ahead of humanity. Frogs ahead of jobs.

 

Read the comments to his piece, too, the meme that "belief in climate change is like a religion" seems to be spreading among conservatives. Sounds familiar?

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Well, there's children on FB that I try to only horrify in person.

Actually, it's damn true. I concur with this guy totally. It is all out war on what America's future will be. I'm ready fro the fight, bring it on teatards.

It is damn true. And that makes two of us at least, Neal. i'm ready for the fight, too. What's at stake is too important!

Another post from Balloon Juice

By Their Works Ye Shall Know Them

The occupant of today’s ducking stool is a post by Erick Erickson that is entitled—I shit you not—“The Perversion of the Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the Sinner Barack H. Obama.” CottonMather CottonMatherson waxes theological for 1,500 words or so, returning to variations on the word “pervert” with such alarming frequency as to inspire concern for Georgia’s dairy goat population.

The post is such a textbook demonstration of moral obtuseness, ignorance and conceit that to put it through the Ensnarkerator seems superfluous. Instead, I’ll turn the analysis of Preacher SonOfAPreacherman over to Emily J. Brontë, who described a similar (but harder-working) character thusly:

He was, and is yet most likely, the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours.

Speaking of assholes, we’ve got our own low-rent version of Sarah Palin in the Florida legislature: State Senator Ronda Storms. She just introduced a bill to ban welfare recipients from using food stamps to purchase cakes, cookies, Jello and potato chips. Is it because she’s concerned about good nutrition? Hell no. Storms wants to make sure a struggling single mom can’t buy her child an Oreo because Storms is a self-righteous, sanctimonious jackass.

And naturally, Storms is another tiresome god-botherer who would make Jesus, if he existed, puke his holy guts out. Her continued existence, unsmited, is all the evidence I need that Bill Maher has it right in the clip down yonder.

[X-POSTED at Rumproast]

What would happen if the press gave equal time to the creation story every time a fossil was dug up.

Ducking Climate Warming Evidence talks about how fear of the right inhibits proper reporting of Climate Change. It's a short read. In part it says:

–Mainstream journalists tend to shift the focus of their coverage and reporting from what the science says to how ordinary people and political leaders are debating the science. This flaw, apparent in The Hill story, frequently overuses the “political horserace” framing that fails to tell the broader climate crisis story.

–Mainstream journalists attempt to achieve a false “balance” by quoting the views of non-scientists and/or devoted skeptics. This “he said, but she said” approach to journalism often presents media consumers with a false sense that the science isn’t settled and that there is room for honest disagreement.

And so, while about 97 percent of climate experts agree that climate change is happening and humans are causing it – a scientific consensus that has steadily increased over the last decade – a 2005 study found that a majority (52.7 percent) “of prestige-press articles featured balanced accounts that gave ‘roughly equal attention’ to the views that humans were contributing to global warming and that exclusively natural fluctuations could explain the earth’s temperature increase.”...

Read the article to see arguments deniers use and I heard a few days ago after casually mentioning the weather.

Ducking Climate Warming Evidence

Exclusive: Over the past few decades, many U.S. mainstream journalists have learned to protect their careers by not offending the Right’s powerful attack apparatus. That caution (or cowardice) has now infected coverage of the looming crisis over global warming, as Sam Parry notes.

By Sam Parry

The U.S. mainstream news media does not seem to have the foggiest idea how serious the climate crisis is (or at least many journalists pretend not to). That is the only conclusion one can infer based on the abysmal track record of climate-related news reporting.

A recent eight-paragraph story in The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, helps illuminate the point. It cites what is called “a new tactic” among Republicans for scuttling the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas rules – demanding that the White House to block them.

Graphic on "The Greenhouse Effect" from the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site
The article quotes House Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Michigan, as telling President Barack Obama’s Office of Management and Budget that “further increasing electricity costs by requiring commercially unproven technologies, or forcing a transition away from coal, will send thousands more U.S. jobs overseas at a time when the nation can least afford it.”

The article also quotes another letter by two other senior Republicans, Joe Barton of Texas and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, regarding EPA’s alleged “use of costly technologies.”

There is a line in the article saying “EPA has pushed back against GOP and industry attacks on its plans, calling them inaccurate and arguing that it is taking measured steps to fight global warming” and the story goes on to offer some details about where the EPA rules stand. However, The Hill omits any background on the looming crisis of global warming.

The rest on consortiumnews.

Maybe when disease hits, they'll finally change their minds. Scare tactic? If you go to the article, they also talk about the "kissing bugs."

Global Warming May Bring More Lyme Disease, Ticks
Posted: 04/ 4/2012 8:06 am Updated: 04/ 4/2012 10:42 am

Darren Collins doesn't know life without Lyme disease. He was just 11 months old when he came home from Wisconsin's Mauthe Lake Campground pasty white, lethargic and running a fever of 105. Darren's flu-like illness eventually subsided, but a host of other troubling Lyme-related symptoms -- stomachaches, irritability and concentration problems -- have since plagued the boy, now 10.

"He's like Jekyll and Hyde," says his mom, Kristin. One moment Darren could be "happy and smiling," and the next in a "complete rage."

"He scores perfect on a spelling test one week, then gets every word wrong the next week," adds Kristin, a nurse in Waukesha, Wisc. "He wants to know why he can't be like other kids."

Darren Collins holds up a flag with the names
of another family afflicted by Lyme. Sisters, Sophie
and Stephanie, frequent his chat room; both were
too sick to participate in the fundraiser walk.
For now, Darren is settling for finding kids like himself, a group that has grown significantly over the decade since he contracted the disease from a tick bite. And according to experts, there may be a link between these increases and a changing climate.

A quarter of all Lyme disease cases are among children. At highest risk: kids ages 5 to 14, who are more likely to play outdoors and close to the ground, where ticks are ready to pounce. Darren recently launched an online chat room catering to this group. Every Friday night at 8 p.m. Central, he now talks online with nearly a dozen new friends who log on from as far away as Kentucky and Australia, all living with Lyme.

Overall numbers are on the rise, too. From 2005 to 2010, the number of Wisconsinites contracting Lyme each year jumped from 26 to 44 of every 100,000 people. Around 15,000 cases nationwide were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the mid-1990s. That number is now 30,000 to 40,000, although the CDC admits it could be as much as 12 times higher.

Lyme is just one of a lengthening list of emerging infectious diseases that are soaring in North America. Experts say that increasing temperatures and altered precipitation patterns that accompany climate change are already playing at least a partial role in the spread and intensity of zoonoses -- infectious agents that begin in animals and account for an estimated 75 percent of all newly emerging diseases. Cases of West Nile virus reported to the CDC, for example, rose from 21 in 2000 -- a year after its arrival in New York City -- to more than 1,000 in 2010.

HuffPost

That ain't scare tactics brother, it is Reality Biting and biting hard.

 Because the disease has been with the Europeans for a long time. As the 2010 autopsy of Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300 year old mummy, revealed the presence of the DNA sequence of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, therefore makes him the earliest known human with Lyme disease.

Cases are also rising in the UK.

Hey guys! This conversation is now more than one year old.
Has the situation improved? Worsened?

I'd say that climate change is still being fervently denied by conservatives.

Stopping Climate Change Is Much Cheaper Than You Think

A UK report confirms the cost of preventing climate change would cost the average citizen just pennies a day.

| Thu Apr. 5, 2012 3:00 AM PDT
CarbonQuilt/Flickr

You've heard it before: Politicians say they'd love to take action against climate change, but they're reeling from the sticker shock. Today, a new report from the United Kingdom's leading climate change watchdog refutes the oft-cited argument that climate action will herald economic Armageddon.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report, with the hairy-sounding title "Statutory Advice on Inclusion of International Aviation and Shipping," says that in 2050, the UK's emissions reductions across the whole economy will cost 1 to 2 percent of the total GDP. This updates, in greater detail, the range predicted half a decade ago by the watershed Stern Review.

Just how much is that? For a rough comparison, 1 percent of the UK's 2011 GDP is a little more than what the country currently spends on public housing and community amenities and is no where near the big-ticket public spending items like health care.

The United Kingdom has enshrined in law an emissions reduction of 80 percent on 1990 levels by 2050.

"It's a very compelling economic case to act," says David Kennedy, CEO of the CCC, an independent statutory body charged with advising parliament on all things climate. "You don't need radical behavior and lifestyle change to achieve our climate objectives."

"It's a very, very small impact on growth. And what you get for that is a whole range of economic benefits."

Read on.

Evaluating a 1981 temperature projection

Filed under:   — group @ 2 April 2012

Guest commentary from Geert Jan van Oldenborgh and Rein Haarsma, KNMI

Sometimes it helps to take a step back from the everyday pressures of research (falling ill helps). It was in this way we stumbled across Hansen et al (1981) (pdf). In 1981 the first author of this post was in his first year at university and the other just entered the KNMI after finishing his masters. Global warming was not yet an issue at the KNMI where the focus was much more on climate variability, which explains why the article of Hansen et al. was unnoticed at that time by the second author. It turns out to be a very interesting read.

They got 10 pages in Science, which is a lot, but in it they cover radiation balance, 1D and 3D modelling, climate sensitivity, the main feedbacks (water vapour, lapse rate, clouds, ice- and vegetation albedo); solar and volcanic forcing; the uncertainties of aerosol forcings; and ocean heat uptake. Obviously climate science was a mature field even then: the concepts and conclusions have not changed all that much. Hansen et al clearly indicate what was well known (all of which still stands today) and what was uncertain.

Next they attribute global mean temperature trend 1880-1980 to CO2, volcanic and solar forcing. Most interestingly, Fig.6 (below) gives a projection for the global mean temperature up to 2100. At a time when the northern hemisphere was cooling and the global mean temperature still below the values of the early 1940s, they confidently predicted a rise in temperature due to increasing CO2emissions. They assume that no action will be taken before the global warming signal will be significant in the late 1990s, so the different energy-use scenarios only start diverging after that.


The first 31 years of this projection are thus relatively well-defined and can now be compared to the observations. We used the GISS Land-Ocean Index that uses SST over the oceans (the original one interpolated from island stations) and overlaid the graph from the KNMI Climate Explorer on the lower left-hand corner of their Fig.6.


Given the many uncertainties at the time, notably the role of aerosols, the agreement is very good indeed. They only underestimated the observed trend by about 30%, similar or better in magnitude than the CMIP5 models over the same period (although these tend to overestimate the trend, still mainly due to problems related to aerosols).

To conclude, a projection from 1981 for rising temperatures in a major science journal, at a time that the temperature rise was not yet obvious in the observations, has been found to agree well with the observations since then, underestimating the observed trend by about 30%, and easily beating naive predictions of no-change or a linear continuation of trends. It is also a nice example of a statement based on theory that could be falsified and up to now has withstood the test. The “global warming hypothesis” has been developed according to the principles of sound science.

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