This article has been making the rounds lately: Six Myths About Climate Change that Liberals Rarely Question.
It’s a fascinating piece, which seems to somehow equate the people who want to do something about global warming with the people who want to continue with business as usual. I’m really not sure what the point is, so let’s just take the “myths” one by one:
Myth #1: Liberals Are Not In Denial
The thrust of this argument seems to be that since liberals try to sell global warming solutions as not terribly painful, then liberals themselves have no clue how tough global warming will be to stop. It’s as if the article’s author, Eric Lindberg, thinks that if only conservatives were told that they would not only have to give up their SUVs, but also give up their guns and submit their daughters to forced abortions, they’d suddenly wake up and support reforms that would help slow global warming.
I think most liberals who are paying attention understand that global warming is a super-tough problem, and that it will require serious changes to be made. But they also understand that the changes have to be made by everyone, together. If half the planet gets serious about fighting global warming, the other half will have no problem negating those efforts.
Myth #2: Republicans are Still More to Blame
Everyone burns fossil fuels, including Democrats, therefore Democrats are just as much to blame as Republicans for global warming.
Right. Because Republicans are so on board with emissions caps, or carbon taxes, or efficiency standards for light bulbs and appliances. So since liberals don’t think we can all just hold hands and magically reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, they’re just as much to blame for lack of political progress on global warming as conservatives? There’s a myth at work here, but I think it’s going on in the minds of idealists like Lindberg than in todays “liberals.”
Myth #3: Renewable Energy Can Replace Fossil Fuels
Now we may be getting to the heart of Lindeman’s argument. Here he’s essentially claiming that there is no technological solution to global warming. The human way of life is what is causing it, and creating more solar panels and wind farms will only stoke demand. The very act of building these things consumes energy, and the cycle will be impossible to escape.
I suppose if this argument is true then Lindeman does have a point… a point that, what, we need to undergo mass sterilization to reduce human population? I would submit that the jury is still out on whether there is a technological solution, that human innovation has done incredible things in the past 100 years and voluntarily returning the world to the stone age is infinitely less plausible than using our amazing talents to find another way out of this dilemma. Of course the ultimate solution will probably require us to change, but these changes might take the form of using more public transportation, building denser housing, and requiring more stringent efficiency standards for all of our favorite vehicles and appliances, not tearing down all the factories.
Myth 4: The Coming “Knowledge Economy” Will be a Low-Energy Economy
This is pretty much a repeat of Myth #3. See above.
Myth 5: We can Reverse Global Warming Without Changing our Current Lifestyles
This is a repeat of all of the above, with the perverse assertion that solving global warming is easy since all we need to do is stop burning fossil fuels. Also, preventing world hunger is a simple matter of everyone eating enough.
Myth 6: There is Nothing I Can Do
Ironically, if you believe the rest of Lindeman’s argument, then Myth #6 is almost certainly true. This myth seems to contradict the others. If you think we don’t have to change our lifestyles to solve global warming, then you would probably also think there is something you can do to solve global warming, right?
No, it seems to me that most liberals understand at a much more visceral level than Lindeman how difficult global warming is to solve—and how difficult the remedies are to sell. I don’t claim to have a simple solution to the problem, but I certainly believe that the solution will come from the folks who at least acknowledge the existence of a problem and are willing to consider making changes in order to solve it.