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April 09, 2008

Ted Nordhaus on the Politics of Personal Destruction

Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment | Science + Politics

Ted Nordhaus eloquently characterizes a disturbing pattern in debate among those calling for action climate change -- avoid debating the merits of policies, and instead smear the character of those making arguments that you disagree with.

Here is an excerpt:

The assumption among environmental leaders was that once the scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change was occurring was established, this consensus would translate into a consensus as to what to do about it -- a consensus that would embrace the policies long advocated by the national environmental movement, namely the Kyoto framework at the international level and cap and trade legislation at the domestic level.

But a funny thing has happened over the last several years, as opinion about the reality and urgency of the climate crisis has "tipped." The consensus that would allegedly result once broad public acceptance of anthropogenic climate change was achieved has fractured. Efforts to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Accord at the international level have stalled, as developing economies, led by China and India, have balked at any framework that would constrain carbon emissions and slow economic development in the developing world, where most of the growth of carbon emissions over the next century will come from. The fragile coalition of businesses, some segments of the energy industry, and environmentalists that appeared ready to support a domestic cap and trade system has frayed, as the environmental movement has demanded that all carbon allowances be auctioned and business interests have balked at the increasing costs of the regulations. . .

Unfortunately, the response to these developments from some environmentalists has been to attempt to tar those who have challenged the efficacy of the dominant environmental policy framework to address climate change with the same brush that they used to discredit those who denied the existence of anthropogenic climate change back in the 90's, only this time they are attacking respected climate scientists, energy experts, and activists who have no connection to the fossil fuel industry and have long and well documented track records of advocating for strong action to address climate change.

This effort is not entirely unusual in modern American politics. Any observer of recent national elections can attest that it has become par for the course among partisans of both political parties, with the political Right having proven to be particularly adept at such tactics, and most would agree that it has not changed American democracy for the better nor aided the effort to address the great challenges that the nation today is faced with. So it is particularly unseemly for prominent environmentalists, having spent the last decade demanding that policy to address climate change conform to the reality of climate science, are now attempting to destroy, quash, and otherwise discredit good science and important scientific and policy debate because it challenges the immediate political and policy objectives of the movement.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted on April 9, 2008 05:56 AM


The political right has become particularly adapt at this practice?????

Not that I have ever noticed. It is the left that specializes both in spreading hate, and accusing everyone else of being full of hate.

Posted by: MarkW [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 10, 2008 05:54 AM

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