Climate Change – A Few Thoughts

While over 70% of Americans now believe that climate change is real, only about 50% of Republicans do, not that the discrepancy between Democrats and Republicans surprises me, given that Democrats are, in general, much more prone to accept “new” findings (even those that turn out not to be true or accurate), while Republicans tend to be older and more conservative, and conservatives are much slower to change their views on anything, even when the facts are overwhelming.

But, in one way, that still surprises me, because age does offer a perspective that youth lacks. When I lived in New Hampshire some thirty years ago, just above Newfound Lake, the lake froze so solid that every winter the lake was dotted with little ice-fishing huts, and even stake trucks were routinely driven on the ice. Now, one of my daughters reports that over several recent years, the lake didn’t ice over at all. The spotty local records indicate that there’s no record of the lake not freezing over before 2000.

I’ve lived in Cedar City for almost thirty years, and in the first ten years, we almost invariably had periods of sub-zero weather [Fahrenheit]. The infrequent snowstorms were usually severe (ten to twenty-five inches), and the local museum has a plethora of pictures illustrating just that. Until about five or six years ago, we never got rain in winter. In just the last few years, we’ve been getting winter rain, when before all the precipitation was snow. Now the infrequent storms are even less frequent, and the moisture content usually far less, and for the last week, we’ve had rain, finally turning to snow as I write this.

Whole sections of pine forests in the mountains are covered with beetle-killed pines. Why? Because, it turns out, that what kills the beetles most effectively is weeks of sub-zero winter weather, and we haven’t had anything like that in the three decades I’ve lived here.

Now, the recollections of an older man should be taken with caution, unless the statistics back them up, which in this case they do. But now that the statistics are out there, why do so many conservative older people fail to see the trends?

14 thoughts on “Climate Change – A Few Thoughts”

  1. R. Hamilton says:

    Presuming for the sake of discussion that one assumes anthropogenic global warming to be true*, and at least significant enough that some action should be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions etc: many might still vehemently disagree with massive government intervention as a way to solve many large problems including that, since it might well inhibit practical, scalable, and affordable solutions.

    Perhaps not a relevant example, but Tesla although the most prominent and thus far successful EV company (and continuing to expand production rapidly – huge new factories in Texas and Berlin) has been totally snubbed by the current administration…apparently for the unforgivable sin of not being unionized (which contributed to the near destruction of the big three).

    Government almost always has considerations that have to do with power over others, rather than results. And liberty, despite being what OUR government at least is supposed to honor and protect, is scarcely an afterthought.

    * predictions regarding something like long term climate, both chaotic and driven by a variety of factors we probably don’t have the capacity to understand as well as some would represent it that we do, I think can reasonably be regarded with some skepticism, even cynicism. While it’s certainly true that IF the more serious predictions are true the costs will be dire, it’s also true that if those predictions are substantially excessive, the costs will also be very significant – not that we shouldn’t aim (if perhaps more gradually) for a reasonably neutral state with all emissions and effluents. And “costs” EITHER way is more than “just” money but affects lives with all the other things that cannot be done because of those costs.

    1. Postagoras says:

      Yeah, we should be totally alarmed by the massive government intervention like:
      – putting a man on the Moon and jump-starting the microprocessor revolution
      – building the interstate highway system
      – funding the medical research that treats cancer, AIDS, COVID, etc. etc. etc.
      – cleaning the air and water of the USA with the Clean Air Act etc.

      We get it, we get it, we get it, R. Hamilton. We’ve heard the same old response from you hundreds of times.

      What I’ve never heard from you is a realistic solution, on your terms, to hard problems. And by realistic I don’t mean that everyone is magically converted to Hamilton-thought. I mean, a solution that will work in a society with Democrats, despicable as they are in Hamilton-thought.

      Unless you provide a solution, you’re just repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly ranting.

      1. KTL says:


        Thanks for taking the lead on asking our chief cynic to take a responsible position. I expect either crickets or something much less constructive in response. Perhaps RH can take the well-used oil industry ploy…..”we think the science needs to be studied further” (until it’s all too obvious and late, and not with his taxes)?

        I suppose being conservative can mean being the last to the party, the last to accept new realities, the last to provide concurrence on changes from accepted norms that prove to have been mistakes or damaging.

        Honestly, I’m really not sure why so-called libertarians even bother wasting their precious breath and energy to protest so vehemently, when they can crawl back into their homes/shells/cabins and simply ignore the world in peace. So, in that spirit RH, please take the criticism to heart or just go away and enjoy yourself, by yourself.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          Greens are part of the problem, because they’re socialists. No matter the seriousness of the problem, more can be done better faster with perhaps not zero, but minimal government involvement; perhaps providing a forum and some coordination and some incentives, but very little else; certainly NOT attempting to control or manipulate a majority or sizeable minority of the economy.

          Anyone who thinks any problem is a good excuse to have government tell more people what to do in more detail and control or seize more resources, is worse for humanity than climate change, possibly worse even than a killer asteroid. Not hyperbole, talk to anyone that’s escaped from some seriously oppressive country. Or even someone that came to where they had to pay for their own healthcare rather than depending on government care in a country where that was universal and denied to them.

          There are LOTS of solutions. Google battery tech, hydrogen tech and other related terms; most of it will be private or academic rather than more than minimally government funded, and a lot of it is a lot further along than the alarmists might acknowledge even if not so wildly unrealistic as banning fossil fuels within a few years. Or buy something green when it meets your needs (I will, but not until then). Most of those are private. They’re YOUR responsibility and mine, not the responsibility of government that we can just take for granted as long as we pay lots of taxes.

          I truly have no problem with government doing effective, inexpensive, and non-liberty-stealing things. They’re not exactly known for that, alas.

          Saying government should do less does NOT obligate one to say who should do it instead (sometimes nobody should!), but I have done that.

      2. RRCRea says:

        Also, world-wide cooperation for massive environmental change WORKS. There was this hole in the Ozone layer. The world worked together. Solved the problem in 10 years. It’s not a problem. So we CAN do it. There are just a lot of people who want play the frog in the pot or the ostrich in the sand because that’s more convenient with living exactly as they do now. And bend over backwards to try to show they are smart for being stupid.
        I guess it’s a good idea to keep seeing the lame rationalizations cloaking in intellectualism but it is wearying. And considering WHERE RHamiliton posts and the content and context of the author’s books… I just don’t see how the OP can actually be reading the books or, if there is understanding, enjoy them.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          I read, and understand and generally enjoy them. I interpret them differently because the author has the good sense not to label his heroes as Democrats and his villains as Republicans. One could often interpret the alignments as somewhat either way, and indeed the Recluce series made the point of switching perspectives between the conflicting sides (and showing balance as a side of its own, albeit sometimes uncomfortably manipulative).

          You want to solve problems? Do it yourself! Learn to build a web site, learn something about your problem, and promote private cooperation to use private means to address it (instead of lobbying government to do more about it). That’s well within the means of most literate people who can afford to buy books or ebooks (and something to read them on).

      3. Shannon says:

        I actually don’t always disagree with R Hamilton. While government can do many good things, it also has a tendency to cost more than expected and programs linger long past when they should be terminated. I also realize some, if not most, university research is government funded.
        Private enterprise has private interests that tend to be short term. Government is supposed to act for the greater good of society as a whole, which hopefully means long term goals, though I’m aware that doesn’t always happen. I honestly don’t expect private companies to act in the best interest of society; governments exist to moderate private interests.
        Climate change, while unfortunate, is something that has happened previously in world history, if not at the current rate of change. Reasonable people can differ on how much effort should be put to limiting climate change.
        Democrats like AOC actually scare me just as much as Trump Republicans.

        1. Postagoras says:

          Well buddy, Democrats like AOC were elected and are each one vote in Congress for their constituents. Democrats like AOC are actually capable of compromise and work together to pass legislation. AOC is not a dictator or president. Nothing to be scared of.

          Perhaps you agree with R. Hamilton that Democrats are despicable. If so, have a nice day.

          1. R. Hamilton says:

            Individually many may mean well when they first run, but their policies are largely despicable at worst, or at very best ineffective and prone to being used to justify further seizures of power with the absurd promise of achieving what they didn’t achieve before with less power; and once they’ve served long enough, they no longer have naiveté as an excuse.

      4. Mayhem says:

        So what I’ve come to understand is that libertarians have a fundamental disconnect with society.

        Effectively at heart, Government is responsible for administering public goods. Transport, Health, a common Monetary Exchange, Justice and so on. Things that society collectively agrees are foundational values that should exist in a fashion equitably to all, to which we can add concepts like Clean Water, Clean Air, nature preserves and so on. The level to which they administer them varies around the world, but the underlying concept is stable.

        The problem with libertarians is they don’t believe in the concept of public goods at all – they believe in the freedom of the individual over the freedom of society.

        And this is what our friend R Hamilton consistently argues – because if there’s no such thing as a public good, then there’s no reason for there to be a government at all.

        A similar problem is happening with the Republican Party as a whole at present – they actively disagree with the concept of public goods – they generally want to privatise them to enrich themselves – which means they actively disagree with the reason for governing in the first place.
        It’s a very bizarre stance.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          There’s a difference between minimal government and no government; minimal is necessary, the rest is parasitic.

          Obviously there is a vast range of opinions as to what’s necessary. I tend to think that even if something IS necessary, there’s a level of intrusiveness beyond which necessary cannot be allowed to be an excuse to extend. That’s what the Constitution is supposed to do: structure and greatly limit federal power (and limit state power where and almost only where that would conflict with federal power; although the 14th Amendment etc was clearly in response to state abuses…but the 10h Amendment was NEVER repealed!). The Constitution is NOT meant to enable government to expand to address all large problems. Better suffer some of/some portion of the problems and be freer than live in a safe coddled world with no more freedom than children.

  2. Bill says:

    Most of the people who don’t believe in climate change don’t believe because they don’t want to accept the change that believing in climate change would require. Denial of the cause means you don’t have to deal with the effect. If you deny that you have a weight problem, you don’t need to go on a diet. If you say you have a weight problem, then you need to do something about it.
    Reducing climate change is going to require a good bit of change. Some companies are going to suffer because their profit comes from making the climate change worse. Look at the loggers in the Amazon. They would have to stop clear cutting the jungle and come up with something more sustainable. The gas companies would have the same problem.
    Some of the people who won’t admit to it would directly lose money. Others would indirectly lose money. Some because they like to be contrary.
    Governments are needed to be involved in this because some people will feel the pain of behavior change more than others. The government can help alleviate some of this pain. Governments can also force compliance when the market won’t. I know not everyone agrees with this.
    The real danger is that there are likely several tipping points that will cause catastrophic and unreversible changes. Some people will not accept it until they are personally affected. By then it will simply be too late. I am surprised that insurance companies aren’t pushing for more action, but they can raise rates and deny coverage when the worst happens.
    The only real hope is that people want their grandchildren to have a life. I would be surprised if I live another 20 years. Climate change is not really something I will need to worry about. But my grandchildren will and their children and grandchildren.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      I intend to buy an EV, one that will likely outlast me, because it has a far lower moving parts count than any ICE vehicle and a stainless steel body; and by the time my eyes or legs make driving problematic, it may actually be upgraded to being self-driving. A maintenance list consisting of little more than wiper blades and fluids, tires, and brake job maybe every 200K miles (regenerative braking reducing wear by perhaps half or more) sounds really good, too. Except for the brake job and actually mounting tires on rims and balancing them (requires special equipment), I can do that all myself, although changing tires is no longer fun.

      Make something that is in my interests like that, that also helps save the planet, and if I can, I’ll buy it; I’m not opposed to the greater good as an incidental benefit, even if at a (small) price premium. But I’m disinclined to tolerate much expense or inconvenience that does not serve me being imposed by corrupt politicians that don’t remotely understand the need or consequences and implications of what they’re doing (except lining their own pockets), regardless of how it may (in very slight degree) be claimed to contribute to some greater good.

      If I want to further some greater good more than as a marginal factor in my own consumer choices, I’ll do something about it myself rather than expect (or welcome) government doing it; and others can certainly do the same. I’d recommend the Salvation Army as usually more efficient than the Red Cross. 🙂

  3. Darcherd says:

    The single most effective thing that could be done to address climate change is a carbon tax. That allows the market itself to adapt and find lower-carbon alternatives.

    But the thought of a new tax has been such anathema to so many in the U.S. Congress that we’re left with a situation similar to how one of the EU ministers in Brussels noted a few years ago talking about the Euro crisis at the time: “It’s not that no one knows what needs to be done. What no one has figured out is how to get re-elected once they do it.”

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