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The Politics of Global Warming

A new poll conducted for the National Wildlife Federation indicates that concerns about global warming span traditional demographic and political divisions.

Al and Tipper Gore
Al and Tipper Gore during a May 20 appearance at the 59th Cannes Film Festival. (Reuters)

The survey sought to test the opinions of hunters and fishermen about the effects of global warming. It was in the field in March and April, testing 1,031 people (212 fishers, 148 hunters and 671 people who did both).

The results were remarkable. Make sure to check out the full survey yourself; here are a few of the most interesting data points:

* The respondents was asked to agree or disagree with a series of statements. Seventy-six percent of respondents either strongly (47 percent) or moderately (29 percent) agreed with the following statement: "Global warming is defined as the rise in temperature of the earth's atmosphere. Do you agree or disagree that global warming is currently occurring?" Only 12 percent either strenuously or moderately disagreed. Asked whether global warming presented a "serious threat" to humans, 45 percent strongly agreed and 24 percent moderately agreed, compared with 23 percent who either strongly or moderately disagreed with that assertion.

* Survey respondents were read descriptions of two generic candidates, one who "believes we must take action now to reduce pollution contributing to global warming and supports strong laws" and another who "believes more study is needed on global warming and believes there should only be voluntary responses rather than government regulation." Respondents picked the former candidate by a 64 percent to 28 percent margin.

* Three-quarters of the sample agreed with the idea that "Congress should pass legislation that sets a clear national goal for reducing global warming pollution with mandatory timelines because industry has already had enough time to clean up voluntarily." Nineteen percent strongly or moderately disagreed with that supposition.

* The sample that produced these results was equally fascinating. Half of those tested identified themselves as evangelical Christians -- one of the most devoted and dependable Republican Party voting blocs in recent elections. Thirty-six percent said they were politically conservative while 37 percent described themselves as moderates. Only 11 percent called themselves liberals. Thirty-one percent of the sample were self-identifying Democrats, 29 percent were independents and 27 percent Republicans.

The NWF survey was conducted by Responsive Management, a Virginia-based survey firm specializing in outdoor recreation and natural resource issues.

What do the results of the survey mean for the political debate heading into the 2006 midterms and the 2008 presidential race? They seem to affirm the idea that the debate over global warming has essentially ended, with individuals of every political predilection in agreement that the phenomenon is not only real but also a problem that needs to be addressed. The poll comes just one month after Time magazine splashed the issue on its cover (subscription required) and was released in the run-up to the general release of "An Inconvenient Truth" -- a global warming documentary starring Al Gore.

With the public focused on the war in Iraq, soaring gas prices and the state of the economy already at the top of voters' minds this year, it seems unlikely that global warming will emerge as a decisive issue this fall. But it is clearly shaping up as an issue that any top-tier presidential candidate from either party must be ready to address both on the stump and in broader policy proposals.

Vanity Fair Green Issue
Al Gore graced the cover of Vanity Fair's Green issue (Courtesy Vanity Fair)

Enter Gore. After his loss in the 2000 presidential election, the former vice president emerged as a darling of the liberal left thanks to his opposition to the war in Iraq. But it is the environment, and global warming in particular, that has animated Gore's political career. In the early 1990s he penned "Earth in the Balance," a book that instantly established him as the greenest member of the U.S. Senate. Gore recently appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair's Green issue and has already been receiving scads of publicity surrounding the release of "An Inconvenient Truth."

The only problem for those -- like The Fix -- who have argued that Gore is positioned better than any other Democrat to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) for the Democratic nomination in 2008 is that Gore does not seem to want to run. In an interview with the New York Times that ran over the weekend, he repeatedly denied any interest in a third run for president and seemed at a remove from the political process more generally.

"I have no interest in running for office. I have run for office. I have run four national campaigns. I have found other ways to serve my country, and I am enjoying them," Gore told the Times's Adam Nagourney.

If not Gore, then who will take on the global warming fight in the national political arena? Maybe Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who, along with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), has sponsored legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions. McCain has said that if he runs for president in 2008 he will make global warming a major issue in the campaign. Or maybe Clinton herself, who recently delivered an energy speech in which she acknowledged Gore as a "committed visionary" and pledged a series of programs to solve the problem.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 30, 2006; 8:43 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008 , Fix Notes  
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Comments

As the original article reports, NWF did a recent poll among America's 40 million hunters and anglers and found that 76% report seeing global warming changes in their world. Most know that global warming is happening because they see it in their communities with less snow and ice of winter, hotter summers, more intense storms, persistent droughts, forest and grassfires, rapidly melting ice-top mountains, or wildlife habitat losses.

Eighty-five percent of the sportsmen surveyed believe we have a moral obligation to stop global warming to protect our children's future. I am pleased that sportsmen and women are once again out in front of Americans in general because the general public perception is still short of reality.

Few Americans and even fewer political leaders fully comprehend that we have little time to act before we lose control. That is, until the planet hits a tipping point where so much ice has melted that deteriorating permafrost gives off it's stored carbon, that dead and dying forests across the planet become carbon sources rather than sinks and that large ice masses on Greenland and Antarctica give way. Several potential tipping points collectively can trigger untamable, run-away global warming.

The arctic has already lost 40% of its ice by volume, 20% by surface, drastically increasing energy absorption. The Arctic region has already warmed 5 degrees largely a result of retreating ice and the jet stream does not reach as far south as it once did because the differential of temperature from the poll to the equator has decreased significantly. Greenland and the Antarctic combined annually dump more than 90 cubic miles of fresh water into the oceans. Greenland's glaciers are sliding and calving twice as fast as they were 5 years ago. By studying low-frequency vibrations coming from moving ice, Göran Ekström, a geophysicist at Harvard University discovered over a hundred "ice quakes" in the last decade as massive ice movements occur. In one case, six cubic miles of ice skidded about forty-two feet in under a minute.

Melting water is bleeding to the base of Greenland and Antarctic ice formations lubricating the surface between the ice and the land beneath making a sudden mass failure of ice more probable today than it was a decade ago. Several Rhode Island-sized Ice Shelves have already broken off Antarctica.

Russian scientists, calling out like voices in the wilderness warn that 70 to 80 billion tons of methane and other carbon compounds with 20 times the heat trapping capacity per molecule as CO2 may soon escape into the atmosphere as permafrost thaws in Siberia.

All over the world, insects are killing millions of acres of forests because they no longer freeze out.

Leading climate scientists have recently issued a warning telling us that we now have less than 10 years to cap and curb carbon dioxide emissions.

Dr. James Hansen of NOAA has been studying this issue for decades and based on the latest data that he has examined, Hansen has warned that if we do not get a grip on this threat, we will create a fundamentally "different planet."

Little wonder... humans have put nearly a trillion tons of carbon dioxide to the biosphere in the past 150 years. We are now conducting a massive planetary experiment outside the range of human experience or competence as we have raised CO2 levels by more than 36%.

Posted by: L James Schweiger | June 22, 2006 5:04 PM | Report abuse

It is funny that most of you cannot discuss this like adults. Why can't anyone disagree with your position without being called names? Why must you assume your "opponent" must be Republican/Democrat? And where do you conspiracy theory type pop up from?

Question "authority"! Do not blindly assume that what your favorite candidate or scientist says is fact. Case in point...our four food groups have been replaced by the food pyramid which in turn is being replaced by MyPyramid. Our "experts" cannot even tell us what food to eat!

Posted by: Alan | June 7, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Just back from Scotland I am in an exaggerated state of alarm finding that the peat used to make that golden honey Scotch drink was created some 3 thousand years ago during a number of centuries that were very warm. As suggested with strong evidence by the author of "1421 the year that China discovered America" the Chinese successfully charted the North West shores of Greenland and there are suggestions that they even got to the North Pole. Neither could have occurred if there was ice at the North Pole. Lacking that as proof there is the peat formative period. Where were the SUV's and industrial pollutants, CO2s, and etc. that created those global warming periods? These periods history are too numerous to list in this short post but with your objective search you too can find this information and be so objectively and scientifically and not politically persuaded unlike Daindl who believes world temperatures only began in 1860.
Support Global Warming insuring a Peat recovery period and continue to have scotch for future generations to drink at current and future support global warming College Republican beach parties!!!!

Posted by: C Garrett | June 4, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Amen, Adam.

Posted by: Jake | May 31, 2006 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | May 31, 2006 1:59 AM | Report abuse

Technology is as likely to create or exacerbate problems as it is to solve them. To see it without the context of changed expectations, as a strictly positive force, is very myopic.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | May 31, 2006 1:46 AM | Report abuse

To all the republican nuts:

1. Medieval scholars did not use the scientific method. They had reason and logic, but they did not have science.

2. I study climate. I read many many journal articles on global warming, including those few by the dissenters. It is not just that scientists "think" global warming is happening. Every measurement we have shows that it is happening. And studies have also been done showing at what point in time anthropogenic climate change started affecting temperature and what degree of warming can be explained by increased GHG.

3. Roger Pielke does actually believe in global warming. He just also believes that land use changes play a large part in temperature changes as well. The Physics do not bear this out.

4. A VERY large amount of the research IS about adaptation. Scientists are not just documenting and predicting climate change and then screaming the sky is falling.

"Dan, your statement from 12:51 is mind-boggling. Give me an exact number to define "overwhelming." Can't do it, can you? That's because scientists are quite divided on climate change. The few squeaky wheels who have gotten attention (Hansen et.al.) have done so because thy've put forth scenarios, not facts"

5. This could be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. The whole point of using a word like "overwhelming" is BECAUSE HE CAN'T GIVE AN EXACT NUMBER! There are too many. How many climate scientists are there in the world? What you don't know? Well then your point doesn't hold water, right? But even for the sake of arguement, let's say there are 10,000 climate scientists. Now I can name ALL of the skeptics. But obviously I can't name everyone who knows that global warming is happening because there would be roughly 9,990 scientists to name.

What are you guys fighting against anyway? Why do you care if we do something about global warming? You obviously don't care about much of anything except supporting the Bush line so why should it bother you? Do you just hate anything that Democrats or Progressives support? Do you hate our world? Do you hate yourself? Maybe a combination of all of the above.

It's funny that you think Jim Hansen is just a squeaky wheel who doesn't know anything and is a lone wolf out there. Maybe you should crack open a physics textbook sometime so you can speak intelligently about something and learn why so many cooky scientists believe that the earth is warming due to increased GHGs. Give it a shot, you might like it. Or go on hating yourself, whichever you prefer, nobody really cares.

Posted by: Adam Terando | May 30, 2006 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double post, but everlast00, the reason why global warming is such a big deal is b/c most of the Earth's population lives on or near the coasts.

Top Ten Largest Cities:

1. Tokyo, Japan - Coastal
2. Mexico City, Mexico - Inland
3. Mumbai, India - Coastal
4. Sáo Paulo, Brazil - Inland
5. New York City, USA - Coastal
6. Shanghai, China - Coastal
7. Lagos, Nigeria - Coastal
8. Los Angeles, USA - Coastal
9. Calcutta, India - Coastal
10. Buenos Aires, Argentina - Coastal

Imagine a sea level rise of a few feet over the next 100 years. We are talking abt the relocation of most of the Earth's population.

Also, since you are priveledged to live in America and are so spoiled that you can turn a tap and get clean running water, you probably dont even know that MOST of the world gets their water from rivers, lakes and water basins that are constantly being fed by Glacial Ice (NOT polar glacial ice). Glaciers and permanent snowpack in the tops of the tallest mountains provide a steady stream (pun intended) of fresh water for the world's people to drink, bathe in, irrigate with.

Take away the glaciers, you take away the rivers. Take away the rivers, you have no water supply for drinking, bathing, irrigation.

Imagine our global oil war.... Times 1,000.

Quick fact:

Only one percent of the world's water is freshwater. The rest is salt water (97 percent) and glacier ice (two percent).

So glacier ice makes up TWICE the amount of water than all the freshwater lakes and rivers combined, etc. Think abt it.......

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | May 30, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

>>>Global warming looks to be real but the man-made part of it is far from factual

So what's been happening to all the emissions society has been putting out since the Industrial Revolution? Does it just disappear?

Simply put, you have to be a COMPLETE IDIOT to think that global warming is not caused by man.

lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/research/trends/glob_jan-dec_pg.gif

Let me repeat:

COMPLETE. IDIOT.


Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | May 30, 2006 6:11 PM | Report abuse

"Ohio - make up measurements when the existing ones don't suit you" - koz

Zouk could you please tell me what measurement I made up? Seriously - what did I make up? Sounds like more of your idiotic vitriol you spout when someone throws out a fact that is inconvenient for you.

And by the way, I live in Central Ohio , I have that idiot Republican Deborah Pryce as my representative, but after Nov. 7 my Rep. will be Mary Jo Kilroy.
If I had to guess I would say your Rep. is Bob Ney, seeing as how you seem to have the same serious problem with the truth just as he does.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

A question missing from the Poll: Are you willing to pay a premium tax on your SUV or Large pickup?

I'm willing to bet that most of the hunters and fishers then climbed into their SUV's or F150's.

Posted by: Dan W | May 30, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Ohio - make up measurements when the existing ones don't suit you. this is like saying something like "the Yankees got more hits but couldn't gain more runs than the Orioles. I don't care if a W went into the O's column, the Yankees still won." and by the way W stands for Win. Just a wild guess but you are from Dennis Cucinich's district aren't you? Yes even moonbats deserve representation.

and Al Gore is a loser because he couldn't turn a great economy into a reelection. couldn't even carry TN. couldn't even figure out who he was. and when the going got tough, he sued. Even Kerry wasn't that much of a sad sack.

Posted by: king of zouk | May 30, 2006 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"Loser: Al Gore" - Koz

Hey zouk, if Al Gore is a "loser" and he got 540,000 more voted then George Bush did, does that make your precious W "The Biggest Loser"?

Posted by: Ohio guy | May 30, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

J.S.,

I would probably get into my air-conditioned car and drive to a cooler climate if that happened. Perhaps we could slaughter a bunch of cows to compensate and decrease methane production. Global warming/ cooling/ changing somehow that scares people and producting disasterous effects is a great theory to earn a research grant, and I suppose it's an interesting enough topic to study, but I would rather learn how to adapt than throw away civilization for some pipe dream of stopping the earth from turning like you advocate. I don't like pollution any more than the next person, and I'm quite certain the technology will be available in the reasonably near future to allay your concerns about any human component to global temperature variance. There's no need to panic and advocate shutting down the factories and living in grass huts as you do.

Posted by: everlast00 | May 30, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Question: (Anybody who knows please answer)

Iowa Governor's Race
Can someone explain to me what is going on Iowa. Why is Chet Culver getting traction and now out polling Republican Nussle. I thought the real frontrunner for the dems was supposed to be Mike Blouin who is endorsed by the Current Iowa governor Vilsack. Why is Culver doing so well? Is he using some issue in Iowa that is catching on with voters. I do get how the dynamics in this race have shifted. What the reason.

Posted by: Wells | May 30, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Dan, your statement from 12:51 is mind-boggling. Give me an exact number to define "overwhelming." Can't do it, can you? That's because scientists are quite divided on climate change. The few squeaky wheels who have gotten attention (Hansen et.al.) have done so because thy've put forth scenarios, not facts.

Furthermore, my fine friend, scientists who don't subscribe to Chicken Little theories are more apt to shun the limelight because of the opprobrium they'll likely receive from the 'establishment' scientists over at the National Academy of Sciences, not to mention the press.

But, for the record -- and because people like you pollute, rather than enlighten, the climate discourse -- I will name a few scientists who dissent and are not on the Exxon payroll: Roy Spencer, John Christie, Chris Landsea, Roger Pielke (father and son), and Richard Lindzen.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

D.C. Russell: Your example is half right. Medieval scholars, and educated medievals generally, believed that the heavens revolved around a round earth, not a flat earth. Example: In Dante's "Inferno," Dante and his guide Virgil work their way down through Hell to the center of the earth, where Satan is imprisoned; as they struggle past his hairy legs, they find gravity suddenly reversed, because now they are climbing up to the other side of the globe.

As a matter of fact, the sphericity of our planet had also been known to the Romans; Plutarch remarks on it. That "they all laughed at Christopher Columbus / When he said the world was round" is good popular song but bad intellectual history.

Posted by: Kakuzan | May 30, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

everlast00,

What you should be afraid of is that the effects of global warming are currently being masked by the high amount of particulate emissions in the atmosphere (which dims the amount of sunlight reaching the surface by nearly 10%). As emissions get cleaner (but still have the same amount of CO2) the rate of global warming will accelerate further as the amount of sunlight reaching the surface increases.

The effects will hit far harder and sooner than you think. And once the oceans warm by about 3 to 5 degrees C (on average) there are billions of metric tons of methane-hydrates that will boil out of the lower levels of the oceans. The resulting methane gas will have a greenhouse effect eight times stronger than that of CO2. And, the last time that much methane was released from the oceans, the global air temperature shot up by 20 degrees and over 95% of life on earth died within less than a year.

Maybe you're braver than I am, but I'd be very afraid of that.

Posted by: J.S. | May 30, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Hillary is vunerable from the left, and the right in the primaries...well and the middle. Hillary has many weaknesses. She is in over her head with old scandals, she is seen as a liberal but the liberals hate her, she has lack of a strong personality, she has not proved she can win in Red states and well she is a woman. Not that a woman has anything to do with her ability to govern, but I am not too sure the electorate wants a woman to run the country yet. Yes, even within the Democratic Party. I think Al Gore has a strong and great personality when he talks about the issues closest to his heart and is not beaten down by advisors who don't know dick. If he runs in 2008 primaries as himself and not the Al Gore we once knew that was very cautious than he can beat Hillary. Then if Gore 2.0 shows up in the General Election I don't think any Republican even McCain can beat him. Polls, showing an Al Gore v McCain matchup is not true, nor is any other poll matching against McCain because the public knows the Al Gore and McCain of 2000 not the passionate Al Gore of today or the far right pandering McCain of today. But I won't be surprised if Gore nor Clinton win the nomination or even McCain for that matter because I think the Democrats are going to look for a Bayh, Warner or Edwards and the Republicans are going to want a Allen, Frist, or Romney. McCain has burnt too many bridges that not even pandering and sucking up the farthest of the right can fix. Global Warming will be a big issue, one right up there with education and health care only if Gore is elected. I don't see any other politician being able tp pull that issue off.

Posted by: PopulistDemocrat | May 30, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Let's assume just for fun that:
1 global warming is real and deadly
2 it is man made and is overriding natural fluctuations
3 there is something we can do about it, if we have the will

how much are you willing to pay to fix it (and I don't mean taxing the rich to pay for it). will you give up your road trip to the beach? will you take the bus to work? will you turn off all your lights at 8pm every night? will you "force" your neighbors to do this? will you give up modern conveniences? Just what exactly are you advocating? sounds like more Big, big, big government to me in the guise of some moral, enviro cause. no thanks. when my gasmask gets too uncomfortable, I will invent breathable carbon. and the bonus is my mountain house will be oceanfront. the best of both worlds. how about taking on an issue with more measurable ills - like poverty, AIDS, abortion, starvation, cancer, etc. You might actually save someone from dying. and I will chip in by selling some of my vast Exxon stock holdings.

Posted by: king of zouk | May 30, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

If a pollster asked medieval scholars if the heavens revolve around the earth, and if earth is flat, a very high percentage of the "best," most-educated respondents would have replied in the affirmative.

That did not make those propositions true.

I could spend the rest of the day citing instances where scientific experts have been wrong--sometimes because of simple ignorance, sometimes because they did not have all the facts, and sometimes because the truth was inconvenient or contrary to their emotional beliefs or faith.

Why are the "experts" preaching the faith of global warming any more believable than their predecessors?

Posted by: D. C. Russell | May 30, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

So, what exactly about global warming am I supposed to be afraid of so that we "do something" immediately? A 0.5 degree increase over the next 100 years (MAYBE), perhaps some created by humans, perhaps not? Wow. Catastrophic. One iceberg melts as another grows larger somewhere else.

The science is inconsistent and the best answer is that we don't know much about what we're talking about. Unless you've divined the solution to chaos theory as applied to weather, then you don't know either. So, what exactly should we "do" in the face of the unknown? Shut down the industrialized world? But, of course, even then we don't know if that would have any effect whatsoever.

The fact is the theory is unproven, the causes, if any, of global warming are unknown and perhaps unknowable for quite some time, and the effects of any global are unknown and perhaps might be good rather than bad. The irrational fear of "global warming" some of you have leads you to run around like chickens with your heads cut off screaming that everyone else must "do something quick." What shall we do, algore, sign Kyoto, which even Clinton knew was DOA? No Democrat in their right mind would sign onto that treaty, let alone Republicans, so just drop it. It's political propaganda of the Europeans.

Posted by: everlast00 | May 30, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

'It seems all scientists who deny global warming are on Exonn 'payroll'. Or they are such blind republican partisans they will always refuse the truth until their party tells them to.

Posted by: Rokkyrich | May 30, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that so many Republicans have to make the "we won, you lost, get over it" arguments when they have run out of "facts"? Well, there is no such thing as a permanent majority, so I would much rather stand on principle and lose anyway, because I would hate to lose and have nothing to fall back on.

That being said, there are areas that have been covered with snow and are no longer that way. In 2002, a chunk of the Antarctic ice shelf broke off that was the largest in 12,000 years. This is real, and the question is "what are we going to do to stop it or contain it?" The city of Portland has made serious investments and seen a decrease of greenhouse gases of 13% in the last 15 years, all with an increase in jobs of 16%. These are simple things that when added up make ecologic and economic sense and the time to act is now.

Posted by: Steve | May 30, 2006 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: king of zouk | May 30, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I dunno all that scientific stuff you guys are tossing around, but I do know this. The overwhelming consensus among scientists who have studied global warming is that it is happening and that humans are to blame.

It also seems that just about every global warming critic is on the Exonn payroll. Can anybody name a credible global warming critic (that is, a scientist who has actually studied it) who isn't receiving oil money, either directly or indirectly?

Posted by: Dan | May 30, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The big problem is that those who deny the existance/effects of "human accelerated global warming" like to slice and dice the information so it tells them what they want to hear. Therefore there is no technical inaccuracy in many of their statements, even though their claims are largely irrelevant or incomplete.

For instance: "Global Warming is natural, it's happened in the past, before human industrialization, so it can't be our fault that it's happening now"

This bit of flawed reasoning has a grain of truth to it: Yes, global warming due to greenhouse effects has happened before, however, this time its happening much faster than it had been previously. It's not the global warming that is the concern, it's the rate and extent of global warming and the impact on human survival that are the problems.

Posted by: J.S. | May 30, 2006 12:37 PM | Report abuse

do you mean the pathetic losers who keep winning elections. Please borrow a dictionary and look up pathetic and losers:
Pathetic: John Kerry
Loser: Al Gore
While you're at it look up the word fact: hint it is not the same as a theory.
Global warming looks to be real but the man-made part of it is far from factual and the cost of altering this may be beyond reach. More thought is needed. a movie peddled by Saint Al is not policy.

Posted by: king of zouk | May 30, 2006 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, if the Post is doing a Hillary campaign, it's got no traction at the grassroots level, unless she's shooting for Veep. Noone I know is serious about her for Pres, no matter how big her bankroll is.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | May 30, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm truly amazed by rightwingers. They can believe in the most outrageous fantasies [we're winning in Iraq, there's a 'War on Christians'] yet they can't believe facts in front of their faces [the icebergs are melting, the Canadian soft wood industry is being systematically destroyed by beetles who now survive winter because it's warmer.] It's late now to be talking about whether global warming is 'measurable' or threatening. It will change our lives quite dramatically in the next generation.

But they say, it's going to be 'difficult' to solve the problem? So does that mean we should just give up? We shouldn't even try? Or else we should just hope that some miraculous and nebulous 'technology' will just happen along and fix everything? What a bunch of pathetic losers.

Posted by: Drindl | May 30, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Even if one can conclude that there is in fact measurable and threatening global warming (which is far from conclusive at this point), the question remains, what to do about it? there are costs to every solution and we can't afford to eliminate all environmental concerns. this is just so typical of Dem problems and solutions - the big mean rich Republicans want to drown the poor suffering workers and won't open their pocketbooks to pay for the easy solution. there is no easy cheap solution if there is even a problem. Look back to the 70s when we had an other round of doom and gloom about the envorinment. we are all supposed to be dead by now - remember. did you ever think that when there realy IS a problem, technology may solve it?

Posted by: king of zouk | May 30, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if Karen actually read the front-page gutter-gossip piece about Hillary in the New York Times. Yes, the media has chosen Hillary as their appointed candidate -- it's true. But only because they want her as their official Democratic punchng bag this season-- hence the Times [and David Broder and Chris Matthews and Tim Russert] attacks on her last week.

No, they've decided John McCain is going to be the next president. But they have to at least pretend we still have elections.

Posted by: Drindl | May 30, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse

These comments demonstrate the flaw in asking such questions in an opinion poll: very few people know what global warming is, so they cannot possibly think or act intelligently on something they don't understand.

And that definition of "global warming" is a complete joke. Global warming is a scientific theory, to begin with. There are a million other flaws with the questions in that poll too, which are all designed to get govt to hurry up and act on a problem by signing a ridiculous treaty with emissions targets that only countries with stagnant countries with no growth in population or economy could possibly hit, and even none of those will hit them.

If you can't explain the simplest thing about a topic, i.e., the definition of the term about which you're speaking, how can you possibly think that people will follow those poll results in practice? Mass hysteria? That's what Gore would like to do, I'm sure. Too bad the plant on my desk is more exciting on the campaign trail.

Posted by: everlast00 | May 30, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Global warming is indeed an important issue, but for a generation of two or three of Americans raised on instant gratification postponing things, downsizing, saying no is an unlikely thing. They will demand their big cars, big vacations, and all the rest -- damn future generation, they want it now.

Only the educated will take global warming seriously, and by educated I don't mean the millions who have gone to mediocre colleges to learn how to buy and sell and market junk in our economy. There are precious few Americans really educated.

Posted by: candide | May 30, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Response to some of the posts above: water vapor is the largest ghg in the atmosphere. CO2 is a distant second. And methane has 20 times the heat-trapping power of CO2. Those predicting the atmosphere is going out of balance are asserting something that is scientifically unsupportable. The atmospheric budget might always be out of balance, but may also naturally compensate for changes. No scientist -- and I mean not a single one -- can prove conclusively the size and effect of the "human footprint" in the atmosphere.

Posted by: Maturin | May 30, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

One survey question quoted in Chris's article was "Congress should pass legislation that sets a clear national goal for reducing global warming pollution with mandatory timelines because industry has already had enough time to clean up voluntarily." Please visit the IPCC website at http://www.ipcc.ch/ to learn that carbon dioxide is the infrared absorbing gas about which the climatologists are concerned (although water is by far the most prevalent infrared absorbing gas). Human activity moves carbon from underground (where it is stored in oil, coal, and natural gas deposits) to the atmosphere where the gas absorbs energy that would otherwise be radiated back to space. Those concerned with global warming advocate reducing consumption of energy sources that are stored underground to prevent the release of carbon dioxide - the global warming pollutant asked about in the survey. Hence carbon dioxide is the pollution that is causing global warming. (Most scientists who are concerned with global warming now think that what we think of as pollution - soot, sulfur, etc. - actually reduced global warming from the 1940s to the 1970s by blocking sunlight from the Earth's surface.) I include water vapor because it is so important to the process. My Ph.D. is in economics so this is only a layman's interpretation of a complicated topic.

I can conclude that the economic modelling done by the IPCC to predict worldwide economic growth over the next century was done incorrectly. The IPCC "best case scenario" or lowest economic growth rates assumed by the IPCC are higher than any economist would assume could occur and are in fact well above precidtions made by other UN departments, the IMF, or the World Bank. Since there is a high degree of correlation between economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions the IPCC is overtstaing how quicking CO2 will accumulate in the atmosphere. In my own work I've found that the CO2 buildup is overstated by about a factor of 3.

For the science of global warming I found Taken by Storm by Essex and McKitrick to be enlightening and Ian Castles and David Henderson have written extensively about the economic forecasting problems with the IPCC third assessment report.

Posted by: G | May 30, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Today seems to be the kick off the Washington Post's Hillary 2008 Campaign. I guess they are trying to out do the NY Times in the race on who can lie to the public more about Hillary to convince America she is better than than chocolate, we need her more than toilet paper, and she is nicer than Katie. I always wondered what MSM journalists did during Memorial day at Ocean City, Nantucket and the Hamptons. Now I know: they brainstorm on which democrat they will "sell" to the public against evil republicans. I always imagine they swallowed suntan lotion instead of applying it and their brains get greasy. All Hillary, all the time, in every section of the paper. Next up, why Barry Bonds is scared of Hillary as president.

Posted by: Karen | May 30, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I liked Al Gore before it was cool but don't believe a winning national campaign is in the cards for him. Right now he appears above politics as concerns about global warming cut across all kinds of demographics. He has the aura of a statesman. But if he steps back into the arena his every utterance will be parsed in a political context. That's true of all politicians but Gore will be granted even less slack by the commentariat. Ultimately I can't see him going back on the rubber chicken circuit again. He doesn't need the vindication the way John Kerry does. Reality has been Al Gore's vindication.

http://www.intrepidliberaljournal.blogspot.com

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | May 30, 2006 10:02 AM | Report abuse

The poll response makes complete sense, if the issue of climate change was that simple. Quick question: anyone know where mandatory programs actually work right now? Answer: nowhere. Thirteen out fifteen EU signatories will miss their Kyoto targets. And EU coal-fired EGUs are finding it easier to pay fines rather than to reduce ghg emissions. If it doesn't work there, how is going to work here?

The U.S. approach makes more sense: pool with the five largest energy consuming and emitting nations in Asia to develop ghg reducing technologies/practices AND continue growth. This gives you emissions cuts with energy security and global competitiveness.

Nota bene to McCain, Gore, and Clinton: the American people won't support economic hardship in the name of a fictional, sky-is-falling notion of climate change. And to paraphrase Richard Nixon, anyone who thinks China and India will temper their economic expansion for an altruistic concern about global warming must be smoking pot.

Posted by: Maturin | May 30, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

To this:

"Let's start worrying about serious things like massive third world poverty, the spread of AIDS, and cancer, among others, and forget about global warming."

Don't you realize that the state of the environment is intricately linked to human population growth and the spread of infectious diseases? People are starving because they crept further and further into former wilderness areas, destroyed their forests, hunted all the wild game, and overgrazed -- turning the land into un-arable desert or otherwise useless ground. People have become incredibly ill because factories have used rivers and lakes dumping areas for waste-byproducts, and uneductaed people have used them as toilets and/or because their animals have done the same.

Global warming will (/has laready begun to) make less land area avilable through the melting of glaciers and the subsequent rise of oceans; and the onslaught of changes in seasonal weather patterns -- hurricanes and floods destroying homes and displacing/killing people, long unremitting dry-spols destroying crops, too much rain eroding arable soil and causing mass-wasting landslides, often resulting to further forest destruction as well. Who do you think is hurt most by these cataclysms? The rich in the industrialized and developed world??

Understand that these things are NOT unrelated.

Posted by: Ariel W. | May 30, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

To this:

"Let's start worrying about serious things like massive third world poverty, the spread of AIDS, and cancer, among others, and forget about global warming."

Don't you realize that the state of the environment is intricately linked to human population growth and the spread of infectious diseases? People are starving because they crept into former wilderness areas, destroyed their forests, hunted all the wild game, and overgrazed -- turning the land into un-arable desert or otherwise useless ground. People have become incredibly ill because factories have used rivers and lakes dumping areas for waste-byproducts, and uneductaed people have used them as toilets and/or because their animals have done the same.

Global warming will (/has laready begun to) make less land area avilable through the melting of glaciers and the subsequent rise of oceans; and the onslaught of changes in seasonal weather patterns -- hurricanes and floods destroying homes and displacing/killing people, too much rain eroding arable soil and causing mass-wasting landslides, often resulting to further forest destruction as well. Who do you think is hurt most by these cataclysms? The rich in the developed world??

Understand that these things are NOT unrelated.

Posted by: Ariel W. | May 30, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

To this:

"Let's start worrying about serious things like massive third world poverty, the spread of AIDS, and cancer, among others, and forget about global warming."

Don't you realize that the state of the environment is intricately linked to human population growth and the spread of infectious diseases? People are starving because they crept into former wilderness areas, destroyed their forests, hunted all the wild game, and overgrazed -- turning the land into un-arable desert or otherwise useless ground. People have become incredibly ill because factories have used rivers and lakes dumping areas for waste-byproducts, and uneductaed people have used them as toilets and/or because their animals have done the same.

Global warming will (/has laready begun to) make less land area avilable through the melting of glaciers and the subsequent rise of oceans; and the onslaught of changes in seasonal weather patterns -- hurricanes and floods destroying homes and displacing/killing people, too much rain eroding arable soil and causing mass-wasting landslides, often resuolting to further forest destruction as well. Who do you think is hurt most by these cataclysms? The rich in the developed world??

Understand that these things are NOT unrelated.

Posted by: Ariel W. | May 30, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Don't look now but the apparent new Treasury Secretary, Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry M. Paulson Jr, supports Kyoto!

Please don't let him go hunting with Cheney.

New on EWM:
"Contrition, Crawford Style"
http://www.eyewitnessmuse.com/diary.php?p=225

It was a moment of such gravitas that someone surely forgot to cue the angels. But chorus or no, last week, our commander in chief fessed up to a few miscalculations while building his masterpiece in Iraq.

Standing in front of the nation and beside what's left of Tony Bair, Bush admitted that he's just too damn manly. Bush says it was the "tough talk," that stands out among mistakes. You know, the "bring it on," "wanted dead or alive" crap.

The President let his inner cowboy out and he's sorry for sending the "wrong signals." Signals are important to this caballero. There's no "Brokeback" in his Baghdad policy...

Posted by: The Eyewitness Muse | May 30, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Drindl: Excellent point about picking the narratives for us. It's not like the Democratic Party is full of oil and gas men who don't believe in global warming. Come on Chris, don't you think EVERY democrat will be talking about global warming? Maybe it's just a matter of the press covering it instead of talking about flip flopping, swift boat veterens, brown suits, the invention of the internet, and other far more important things.

Just because we have a party in power now that doesn't really believe in "science" or "facts" doesn't mean that presidential candidates in the other party don't believe in those things.

Posted by: Adam Terando | May 30, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Mike Maher: You have numbers, but you are using them incorrectly. CO2 is a much STRONGER greehouse gas than water vapor because of its lifetime in the atmosphere and its radiative properties. We are not adding water vapor to the atmosphere. Even if we were, it would tend to precipitate out in a matter of days or weeks wheras a CO2 molecule will stay in the atmosphere for years or decades. So as we put more and more CO2 into the atmosphere, it builds up over time and traps more and more radiation near the earth's surface instead of escaping into space. In addition, as we put more CO2 into the atmosphere, we force temperatures to increase, which causes an increase in water vapor (more evapotranspiration) which DOES add to the greenhouse effect. So you're right, water vapor is a greenhouse gas, and we're making it a "bad" greenhouse gas by adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

Here's your references. Go edumacate yourself and join the other 99.999% of the scientific community.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=142

Posted by: Adam Terando | May 30, 2006 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Glenn. I get scared when there's no one around but the crazies.

We should also stop worrying about disease, because just imagine how crowded the earth would be if no one ever got sick and died.

But seriously folks, politics. Every candidate [including John McCain and Hillary Clinton] who takes up this issue now is a johnny-come-lately opportunist who will never bring the knowledge or understanding or passion of it that Gore does, and that's the shame of it.

An interesting point, as an aside, is that the beltway media seem to have already chosen our candidates and narrative for us -- and they want McCain and Hillary. Which is interesting, because both of their respective 'bases' hate them.

Posted by: Drindl | May 30, 2006 9:36 AM | Report abuse

This is a very relaxed and comfortable Al Gore. This was the guy I hoped would run for President in 2000. I think he would make a great president and candidate if he could hold onto this persona but I think the stress of campaigning would bring back the "Tin Man."

I think he is being honest when he says he has found his way to serve. He won't run.

Posted by: RMill | May 30, 2006 9:33 AM | Report abuse

We should also stop worrying about floods. They are merely water, which is necessary to life.

Posted by: Glenn | May 30, 2006 9:26 AM | Report abuse

The greenhouse layer is composed of various gases. Ask the question - how much does Carbon Dioxide contribute? Answer - 3%. how much does water vapor contribute? Answer - 33%. If these numbers, which are 20 years old, don't apply now and you know the new answer, give me the numbers and the reference.

Posted by: Mike Maher | May 30, 2006 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Forget about global warming? Pollution is just carbon dioxide and water?

What kind of moron writes something like this? I mean seriously, "G" do you have a brain? and if so, what do you use it for -- a door stop?

Posted by: Drindl | May 30, 2006 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Note that the survey questions ask about reducing the pollution that causes global warming. Who doesn't want to reduce pollution? What if respondees were told the pollution in question consists of carbon dioxide and water. Let's start worrying about serious things like massive third world poverty, the spread of AIDS, and cancer, among others, and forget about global warming.

Posted by: G | May 30, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse

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