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Climate hawks

David Roberts has been trying to popularize the term "climate hawk," and he's got me -- and others -- convinced. Here's how Matthew Yglesias describes it:

What’s a climate hawk? Well of course much like a deficit hawk or a national security hawk or an inflation hawk, a climate hawk is tough-minded and awesome and entitled to worshipful media coverage. We’re very serious people who want to confront the major challenges of our time. Are we environmentalists? Perhaps. But many of us aren’t really “nature-lovers,” we just think it would be unfortunate if low-lying areas were flooded, while vast new regions of the earth are stricken with drought. We recognize that the particulate pollution from burning coal and the geopolitical consequences of oil dependence are both dire enough to make a compelling case for energy reform even apart from the greenhouse gas issue.

We think it’s unfortunate congress didn’t pass a comprehensive climate bill, but we’re determined to do the best we can with EPA regulation and hope responsible people recognize that it’ll be better for everyone if congress takes another bite at this. And we’re hoping for a serious bite. After all, we’re climate hawks!

Now we just need jackets.

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
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I'm in. Send me a jacket, too. But good people aren't provocative enough for worshipful media coverage.

Posted by: Chris48 | October 27, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I prefer pollution hawks. It is more effective (who is against pollution?) and neatly side steps the extent to which pollution contributes to climate change. We all know climate changes happens without pollution, and that pollution effects it, but it is a complex system and it will take some time for us to understand all of the variables. On the other hand, you can go to a lot of places in the world and literally choke on the air pollution. Cutting down on pollution is visible and powerful. Climate hawk is a little harder to figure out- what is the optimal climate? How do we know we have the optimal climate now? Is the optimal climate warmer or colder?

Posted by: staticvars | October 27, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

If climate hawks recognize "that the particulate pollution from burning coal and the geopolitical consequences of oil dependence are both dire enough to make a compelling case for energy reform", then there is no reason for them to concern themselves with unproven warmist obsessions like the flooding of low-lying areas and drought.

Posted by: bgmma50 | October 27, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The climiate change crowd has been caught witht their pants around their ankles between ClimateGate and the inability to demonstrate that man's activities are a significant part of any perceived change.

It would probably be a better idea to demonstrate your ideas and actually, ya' know, make your case instead of using tricks to skew the debate such as "framing" and "memes".

Catchy words is just that....catchy words.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | October 27, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

staticvars makes an interesting point. "Pollution Hawk" sounds tougher and easier to explain. On the other hand, it covers a lot of things which really aren't related to climate change: pesticides, hormones in the water supply, etc. Those are good things to work on, but they're not really related to climate change, as far as I know, so it seems like it dilutes the anti-climate change message a bit. On the other hand, "Climate Hawk" sounds better than "environmentalist", but I think staticvars makes a good point that it sounds like your're against the Sun or something. How can you be against the Earth's Climate? It just seems like it requires more explanation than "Pollution Hawk".

Either way, I think the most important thing in these instances is for everyone to pick a title and stick with it. No infighting about which one is better. Just select the title and go forward. You roll it out on Maddow or something, explaining that you're calling yourself whatever it is, and why. Then you migrate over to CNN or one of the networks where they have already heard the term and ask you to explain it. Soon enough it's just something that people associate with certain politicians/commentators the way we offhandedly think of someone as a national defense hawk. People can agree or not with you, but once you've established a reputation on the issue then people, particularly in the media, will pay more attention to you when the issue is discussed.

Posted by: MosBen | October 27, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"We recognize that the particulate pollution from burning coal and the geopolitical consequences of oil dependence are both dire enough to make a compelling case for energy reform even apart from the greenhouse gas issue. "

But we haven't been able to get the traction we want by arguing about pollution alone, so we drag in climate change in order to help market policies we're in favor of anyway.

Which is exactly the problem. If you conflate marketing with the underlying issues you're trying to address, people will notice and you'll lose them.

Posted by: tl_houston | October 27, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure you'll be just as effective as noted deficit hawk Evan Bayh and security hawk Joe Lieberman. Oh wait, they were just posturing and achieved the opposite of what they claimed?

Try developing convincing arguments for voters that show renewable energy means more jobs and a better economy in the future and not the reverse. Save the cute labels for ketchup and glass cleaner.

Posted by: jamusco | October 27, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Also, Dave Roberts is preaching to the choir. The problem with all of you climate hawks is you revel in pushing each other to ever higher levels of alarm while convincing nobody new to support your position. You're right, you're losing the game, and you've decided new uniforms are the answer. Sigh.

Posted by: jamusco | October 27, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Discussion of the real evidence here:

More details here at the NASA page, with links to the real science:

I don't know which possibility is more depressing -- that deniers like WD above are aggressively ignorant, or unable to think critically when they read the substance of made-up "scandals," or that they are trolls paid by PR firms to spread denial. At some point, we have to say that facts are facts with regard to issues that are capable of being settled by science, and if we can never reach that point, we are truly screwed.

Posted by: terchomp | October 27, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

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