I wrote earlier about our broken conversations dealing with science amongst political leaders, particularly climate change.
As an example of these sorts of conversations, here is an excellent discussion on a recent Real Time with Bill Maher – I know, even I am amazed but sometimes a useful discussion breaks out here. Watch the video.
Bill McGibben discussed a statement from the Exxon CEO that we would adapt to climate change by moving crop production areas around. McGibben replied:
I think by crop production areas he means what the rest of us call farms. This is nonsense. Exxon has pleasantly melted the tundra for us, but you cannot just take Iowa and move it up (to the tundra). There is no soil there.
Tremendous point. The reason Iowa has great soil is that the glaciers scraped off the topsoil in Canada and left it in Iowa. Canada just does not have the huge expanse of arable soil we have. Unless we move the soil, we cannot simply move farms further north.
Now the young conservative on the show brought up a point :
“The problem with environmental activistism is that you always assume an extrapolation from the present into the future. You thnk what will happen now will happen in the future. Malthus thought we were going to run out of food in 1700. We didn’t. He did not project that we were going to invent fertilizer and steam engines to farm.”
To which McGibben relied: “What are we going to develop that replaces Iowa?”
His point is not that we cannot do anything, nor does he advocate doom and gloom. It is that we fixed these problems in the past BECAUSE we recognized them. We brought fertilizer and steam engines to the farm because they fixed the problem of crop yields. People recognized there was a difficulty and fixed it.
The conservative simply stated we need to do nothing because somehow it will get fixed. No, it got fixed because someone did something.
You cannot fix a problem unless you recognize there is one. Huntsman recognizes a problem with climate and I bet would be wonderful at finding something better than cap and trade, which would be great because I’m not fond of cap and trade. I’d love to hear his view on cap and dividend or fee and dividend which seems to bring in more market-driven, consumer powered approaches.
We won’t solve these problems with half the country refusing to recognize there is one. 98% of Canadians acknowledge climate change. In 2009, only 57% of Americans did with only 35% of Republicans agreeing.
This is changing with more and more Americans acknowledging that the world is getting warmer. We now have two-thirds (67%) of Americans acknowledging climate change.85% of the Democrats and 48% of the Republicnas now agree. 91% of the liberals do while 43% of the conservatives do.
Maybe by 2016 we will be ready to have the discussion.