Comments about ‘Who are the 'alarmists' here? Real conservatives value evidence’

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Published: Sunday, May 25 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Tuesday, May 27 2014 8:41 a.m. MDT

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Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

"Real conservatives value evidence"

My sense is that this title is incorrect.

How I see it, real conservatives value their pre-existing beliefs in specific wishful ideology of "free markets" and that "it is arrogant to believe that man can change the planet." These are just a couple of common themes I see coming from conservatives rejecting the science of climate change. In short, the threat of climate change and the implications for addressing it don't fit their values and how they view the world.

Acknowledging climate change means that humanity must work collectively to address it -- but collective action conflicts with conservatives' values of "individualism" and "freedom" from government. Thus, accepting climate change as real flies in the face of what is near and dear to their hearts. In sum, reality doesn't fit their beliefs about how the world SHOULD be, if their ideology is valid.

There are three key values that are central to conservatives: Economy, freedom, and family. Until climate "alarmists" tie the issue to these three values -- noting how climate change IS already impacting the economy, hurting people's freedom, and a THREAT to family, we'll continue to see conservatives deny the evidence.

LOU Montana
Pueblo, CO

Barry, all we have to do is look at West Virginia as an example of environmental responsibility.
Their open hatred for environmental regulations, federal government or any form of government involvement in their state is well known. Then when they have a huge environmental disaster who do they come crying too? The Federal Government that they hate!

Conservatives have one objective and it is greed. They care nothing for their fellow man, community or environment. Everything they do is about their own personal gains.

Casa Grande, AZ

I remember when conservatives believed we had some responsibility to the environment. It was just before the Koch brothers started pouring money into elections.

E Sam
Provo, UT

Excellent and well reasoned.

Hayden, ID

Interesting article. What caused the ice age? What caused the ice age to end? There are some theories but no one knows, not even scientists. What we do know is the climate always changes and we know that man's use of coal or any other fossil fuel did not cause the ice age or the end of the ice age. We also know that the climate is still changing and that is because natural climate cycles have already turned from warming to cooling regardless of what the cooling deniers claim. Global temperatures have already been declining for more than 10 years, and global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more. Then another cycle will cause change again, as it always does! In the meantime there is climate change money to be made at the expense of the poor of the earth, as always!

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Great piece, thanks for printing it. I'm going to start calling myself a genocidal luddite hippy from now on.

Anti Bush-Obama
Chihuahua, 00


Yeah those Koch Brothers who donated to Bill Clinton's campaign. These guy are beans compared to The Fords, Rockefellers and Rothschilds. But since they own the mass media, of course they arent going to talk about them at all.

Salt Lake City, UT

"We also know that the climate is still changing and that is because natural climate cycles have already turned from warming to cooling regardless of what the cooling deniers claim"

There is no cooling. We just had the warmest decade on record (and tied the warmest April on record globally). The most you can say is that there's a pause (I'm sure if you cherrypick a particular number of years you can find a statistically insignificant downward slope). You're right to note that natural cycles are in a cooling mode (like the weakest solar cycle in a century and our string of La Nina years outnumbering El Nino ones 4 to 1 over the past half dozen years), but... why have we only paused then? Perhaps there's a positive forcing balancing the negative natural forcing over the past dozen years.

Casa Grande, AZ

Scientists understand the Earth's climate pretty well Mountainman. There is air trapped in ice cores that date back millions years.

But, conspiracy believers won't believe it anyway or listen to anything that disagrees with their positions.

If even 50% of climatologists came around and said global warming is not caused by mankind I would accept the science and unsettled. It may be unfinished but it's been conclusive for a long time. We are changing the weather.

The geology of the moon is unfinished for example, but we're sure it's not made of cheese.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Dear Prof. Bickmore,

Thanks for your well reasoned and sensible article.

by doing so you are outing yourself,
and have declaring yourself one click (Left - because it's about preserving our environment, you are now out of step with the self-called "REAL" conservatives.

The puritan Tea-Publicans will hence forth label you as a RINO,
and will chase you out of their party.
There is NO room for anyone interested in the environment in the Tea-Publican party.

Let them go,
Let them have their way.

Welcome to the REAL world Prof. Bickmore - Independent and Unaffiliated.

Salt Lake City, UT

Mountanman - natural climate changes occur at rates hundreds or thousands of times more slowly than the climate change we're now causing by pumping CO2 into the air.

If you look at the air/land/ocean temperature graphs for the past hundred years you'll see that in fact temperatures have been rising, and accelerating.

From where do you get the projection that "global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more?"

And in terms of "climate change money," dealing with droughts, floods, storms, and habitat loss is infinitely more expensive than the relatively simple steps that we should be taking to wean our economy from fossil fuels.

The real "money to be made" is by fossil fuel interests who are employing the exact-same tactics, and hiring the exact-same PR firms, that the tobacco industry did to keep us from enacting public policies about tobacco for decades after the science was conclusive that tobacco was bad for you.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

By acknowledging Global Warming,
Prof. Bickmore can't be a REAL conservative,
or a TRUE patriot...that how the puritan Tea-Publicans operate.

Centerville, UT


I believe the BYU professor knows more about climate science than you do. I'm pretty sure he's familiar with whatever science you believe shows global cooling, yet he and most other climate scientists are extremely confident that human activity is causing climate change.

How is it that there is climate change money to be made at the expense of the poor? According to Lawrence-Berkeley Labs study in 2012, weather- and climate- related insurance losses are about $50 billion a year now. That's why the insurance industry funds climate change research. These are not academics using government funding, they are business people.

That $50 billion in losses per year is not being absorbed by the insurance industry; it's being passed on to people who buy insurance or rent houses that are insured or buy products from companies that are insured. It seems to me that the costs to the poor of climate change may well be higher than the costs of a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

One fact that is hard to miss in the climate change “debate” is the psychology of those on either side.

On the one side you have people who are relatively free of bias (or can at least put their biases aside to a healthy degree) who look at the science, connect the dots – pump a lot of greenhouse gas into a closed system and the planet warms up… makes sense – and generally recognize how difficult it is in our modern age to sustain a scientific consensus approaching anywhere near 90%, especially in the face of so much moneyed interest trying to disprove it, not to mention the constant challenges from newly minted PhD’s looking to make a name for themselves by disproving the consensus view.

On the other side – the cynical moneyed interests aside – are people for whom the implications of human caused climate change run head long into a preconceived and often cherished worldview (usually religious). For some, the cognitive dissonance is simply too much to handle and given the value many people place on religious beliefs, the science loses (i.e., is abandoned).

Virginia Beach, VA

OK, real conservatives are definitely better than "Conservatives," but they're still predisposed to protect the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else.

"Some real conservatives . . . have proposed excellent, minimally invasive strategies for dealing with climate change, such as a revenue-neutral carbon tax . . . "

FORGET the carbon tax, and just double the tax rate for higher earners. "Minimally invasive" is still invasive.

If we doubled the tax rate for the highest earners, it would be 70% . . . still short of the 77% in 1969 when we went to the moon, fought the Viet Nam war, fought the cold war, and STILL balanced the budget because we had adequate revenue.

A carbon tax would hurt the middle class, and the middle class has already been harmed enough by 30 years of Reaganomics.

Al Gore wants a carbon tax too, and the reason is to make fossil fuels prohibitively expensive and thereby induce private industry to look for affordable green energy alternatives.

We have an unnecessary middle step there. We should instead approach it like we approached the space race. Just raise taxes for high earners, and let the government outsource development to private industry, while coordinating and overseeing the process.

Salt Lake City, UT

"natural climate changes occur at rates hundreds or thousands of times more slowly than the climate change we're now causing by pumping CO2 into the air."

Technically there are some exceptions with extreme shifts in shorter periods like a shutdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (also referred to as the thermohaline circulation, see: Younger Dryas for an example of that kind of rapid change). So the current rate of change is more like "very rare" rather than unprecedented.

"From where do you get the projection that "global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more?""

He might've read something on the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO),something that is due to be in a cool phase soon. It's a natural forcing that has cycled in the past half century of temperature records so it's not going to throw anyone off guard who studies climate.

"weather- and climate- related insurance losses are about $50 billion a year now. "

Care is needed in separating the climate change component in that (like the extra storm surge from higher sea level) rather than attributing it all to it.

Centerville, UT


I didn't mean to attribute all costs to climate change. I know of no more refined data on this point. But, as the real costs have doubled over time, I think its fair to say that some of it is climate change related.

Sensible Scientist
Rexburg, ID

Dr. Bickmore, what warming? What climate change?

The real evidence is on the skeptic's side. The climate models on which doomsday predictions are based have been wrong so far. Despite the slight increase in CO2 over the past decade and a half, global temperatures remain flat and climate remains in its historic bounds. So far, the skeptics are right!

The climate changes humans have adapted to in the past two millennia have been much bigger than what's happening now (which is nothing). Roman warm period, little ice age, and now recovery -- we've adapted. So the conservative's assertion you scoffed at is exactly right.

The IPCC isn't exactly an unbiased or supremely credible scientific source. You may as well cite Putin about international relations. Where money and power are at stake, corruption is inevitable, and the proposals coming out from the IPCC and cohorts are all about consolidation of power and money. And that's why so many conservatives with noses keen to political shinanigans are skeptical about global warming. And scientists who can cut through the fog of peer pressure are, too.

Barry Bickmore
Orem, UT

It's interesting how many of the comments here either 1) dismiss all conservatives as greedy jerks whose ONLY goal is to protect the wealthy, or 2) promote right-wing conspiracy theories and debunked pseudo-science that could easily be looked up on the Internet. Look, the world isn't that simple.

To my liberal friends: Do you really want to help drive people like me out of the Republican Party? Is that really a healthy situation for the country? Or would you rather have people like me stick around and try to drive the extremists back into the attic? Broad-brush dismissals of all conservatives as greedy jerks who hate the poor just make you look like the right-wing extremists you despise. That is, it makes you look like you haven't bothered to get to know many conservatives, and you are incapable of nuanced thinking.

To my Republican friends: Objections like, "climate changes naturally all the time" are just absurd. Do some homework, and stop listening to anti-intellectual blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. My impression is that those guys talk so much every day that they couldn't possibly have time to study any issue carefully.

Barry Bickmore
Orem, UT


Here is the data you desire. The problem is that as climate-related risks have risen, so have populations and assets in disaster-prone areas, so some of the rising disaster costs are just due to the fact that there is more costly stuff to destroy. However, we have also gotten better at building things to withstand disasters, so that would tend to lower disaster costs. Munich Re (the re-insurance giant) released a study of disaster costs over time, and showed that non-climate-related disaster costs (e.g., from earthquakes) were going up at a much slower rate than climate-related disaster costs (e.g., floods and hurricanes). A friend of mine wrote a nice article about this recently. I don't think the DN lets us post links in the comments, but if you Google "dana nuccitelli guardian roger pielke" it should be the first hit.

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