Down the Line

November 3, 2009

How is it that when Angela Merkel signals that “we all know we have no time to lose” on climate change the polarity in our congress somehow becomes all the more apparent?

While the entire Democratic side gave those remarks a standing ovation, most Republicans — including key swing voters, such as Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.) — remained in their seats. When Merkel added that curbing greenhouse gas emissions would spur growth in “innovative” jobs worldwide, the same partisan divide marked lawmakers’ reaction.

I can understand how there might be objections over the jobs question, as policy differences map roughly onto party differences. But on the question of the magnitude of the problem, why is there an equal political split there? Shouldn’t that cut across parties differently? Are we correct to infer that the differences aren’t about prioritization of policies, but rather about agreement on the climatic state of affairs? I find that very hard to believe.

I have no answers for my questions, except that if ever there was evidence of politicization in the climate change discussion, this is it.


  1. Merkel was a physicist, not someone in policy studies.

    • No follow.

      • Her orientation is to let the policy emerge from the facts.

  2. I think the key here is to look at the political viewpoint of the parties. The Democrats tend to be left of center, how far left can be argued, and the Republicans tend to be right of center. This would imply the Democrats view governmentas the solution, imposing a “government” solution on the problem. This would of course mean more taxes, more regulation, more control of people, and hence less freedom. Republicans, on the whole, tend to favor less of the “government” solution, but as to what degree is currently being determined within the party and at the polls.

    Generally, I think the Republican side of the isle looks at the science with a bit more skepticism than the Democrats, and so there is not a “concensus” on whether the perceived problem is actually a problem.

    If “climate change” or more accurately “global warming” is caused primarily by mans’ activities, and the consequences are lethal to the planet and civilization, and can be altered by returning society to the late 1800’s, then a solution exists. If, on the other hand, most of the warming in the past 150 years is natural, recovering from a cold period, and man has little or no ability to alter the climate, then any action would be futile. As such, there is a fundamental disagreement regarding the entire topic of global warming.

    I myself don’t doubt global warming has occurred, since there is substantial evidence of an ice age ending about 12,000 years ago, and many cold periods since then. We are clearly warmer than before, but I refuse to blame man for the majority of the warming. I contend the vast majority of warming is due to natural causes, and that man is incapable of making any significant impact on the climate, one way or the other.

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