After receiving some constructive criticism on my article Climate Change: A Different View, I want to clarify my position. Poorly worded and edited it was justly critiqued by serval people whose opinions I value, and I have since removed it from this site. My article did not convey my point clearly. I have no doubt that climate change is real and man’s part in it may lead to catastrophic results. My point was that those of us fortunate enough to live in countries with representative government need to hold our elected officials accountable and not jump on any bandwagon because it sounds right, it also needs to be right. As voters, we need to be held accountable for those we vote for and to be a responsible voter carries the burden of doing our own research before we vote.
One criticism was that we need to leave it to the experts, because we are not experts. Of course, we need the most guidance from the experts, but even experts are often wrong, and worse, they rarely look beyond their field of expertise to see how their recommendations can negatively impact other sections of our society such as our economy and mental and physical health. That is why we need to elect leaders whose job is to filter out the chaff and balance what the experts want done with the impact on the reality that affects all of us.
Another criticism was regarding my point on the loss of jobs and how, like nature, business abhors a vacuum. Ironically, one of the people that mentioned this to me is a dear friend, whom I recently re-connected with after 25 plus years, who grew up in the same small town I did and now lives near the Motor City. In the early 80’s when we were kids the largest employer in town closed and the town was decimated economically. That closure resulted in a huge decrease in population as people fled to find new jobs and led the town to be number one in alcohol consumption per capita in the entire country for a few years. I often visit our hometown and 40 years later it has yet to climb back to its peak population or, by my observations, sober up.
The same scenario can be seen throughout Michigan and other states that were dependent on the auto industry. The decline of the U.S. auto industry may not have started with the energy crisis of the 70’s but that crisis pushed it over the edge. And what happened with the energy crisis and auto industry is not completely unlike our concerns today in attempting to move towards alternate sources of energy. During the gas crisis people drove less, purchased fewer new vehicles and wanted cars with better MPG. American businesses did not respond to fill that vacuum. It took the Japanese to fill that void and with it took the jobs. I don’t blame the Japanese; I respect and applaud them for seeing an opportunity and maximizing it.
When businesses that large suffer it affects more than just them, it affects all those who supply them, those in their supply chain and those who sell goods and services to their employees as well as the cities that rely on the taxes of both those businesses and their employees. It was a failure of American business for not filling that vacuum and leaving hundreds of thousands out of work or underemployed. Detroit has less than half the population than it did at its peak and was once the wealthiest city in the country and one of the wealthiest in the world.
Pushing electric cars and green energy before they are ready for mass consumption could lead to many losing jobs. California has already banned the sale of gas powered vehicles by 2035. That’s just 15 years from now. Will the jobs lost be filled by other industries in time to save families from financial devastation? Will electric cars be affordable to middle and lower income families who depend on cheap transportation to get to work and school? Will wind and solar energy be able to offset increased demand for electricity, or will we have to still rely on natural gas or coal power plants which negate many, if not most, of the benefits of electric cars? How much will it cost to upgrade our infrastructure to meet the increasing demand and who will pay for it? Will all this happen within just 15 years? Vacuums are not always filled within a generation or even longer, leaving many behind and much worse off than they were before. Like many cities, including my home town and throughout the rust belt, Detroit has never recovered.
I read a comment on Brian’s Suszek’s article, Man Made Climate Change, stating that “the climate debate was akin to children arguing for the sake of argument.” That is very, very true about some, but not for many of us arguing. We are not arguing that nothing should be done, we are arguing on how it should be done and holding those who decide what is to be done accountable for any rash or poorly vetted decisions. As a libertarian minded person, I understand that government rarely makes the right decisions and, even if we have the technology, there can be very damaging unintended costs and consequences of just doing it.
We may have the technology to act now, but in the process of transitioning to a greener world that cutting edge technology will cost money and jobs. Experts are not always right and although their consensus is that something must be done and done soon, they are far from agreement on just how much negative impact man has on climate change and how best to correct it. There needs to be a balance between those sounding the alarm the loudest and those ignoring the alarm completely so we don’t destroy ourselves in others ways we didn’t see coming. As with almost every topic, neither extreme has 100% claim to the truth.
The point of my original article, although poorly constructed, still stands. Yes, manmade climate change is real. Yes, we need to do something about it sooner rather than later. But we need to determine how much of climate change is caused by man and how much is natural, such as from solar flares, sunspots, volcanic activity, etc. There may even be possible benefits of limited climate change. It can increase growing seasons for larger and, possibly multiple, crop yields per year. The Sahara desert is shrinking, possibly opening more land for agriculture on a continent that desperately needs food.
We need to be skeptical of those saying New York will be under water in 10 years or we will all be starving within 20 years unless we over tax ourselves and waste that money through poorly thought-out agendas such as the Paris Agreement. We need to question those who sound the alarm the loudest and vet their conclusions as maybe they have an agenda. Think of Al Gore and others buying ocean front property and making millions off climate change, running for election or selling books while talking about rising sea levels. There’s nothing wrong with monetizing climate change, quite the opposite; monetizing climate change can bring about the quickest and most cost effective solutions. But it often appears that we are being sold a bill of goods by some of those demanding the most change in the shortest possible time.
Like religion and politics, debate about climate change can be volatile and misunderstood and needs much more discussion and action than articles like this to fully be resolved. Change can be difficult and painful, but inevitable. But we can minimize the pain with rational thinking and solutions. I relearned a very valuable lesson; words matter. Many, many times over the years l have told people “it’s not what you’re saying, it’s how you’re saying it.” Unfortunately, I don’t always practice what I preach.
I agree with everything Brian Suszek stated in his article, but I also felt it needed some expansion. In today’s world of 15 second sound bites and attention-grabbing headlines most people rarely think beyond that, and they vote with results that can be just as devastating as climate change.