“The only person who can truly persuade you is yourself. You must turn the issues over in your mind at leisure, consider the many arguments, let them simmer, and after a long time turn your preferences into convictions.”
– Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose (1979), p. xii.
I have fruitfully engaged in debates regarding energy and climate on social media, some on Facebook and most at LinkedIn. I comment on views I agree with to add insight. But I commonly engage with my intellectual foes, some of whom are quite confident they have the science on their side and share links to prove it.
I learn, while noting the areas of disagreement and why. I remain persuaded that the climate crusade is wasteful and futile–and wealth-is-health entrepreneurship is the way forward, whatever the weather and climate of the future.
The best compliment I have received is “you are certainly tenacious.” I do present a set of arguments that cannot be refuted easily. In many cases, this is where my opponents resort to ad hominem, name-calling, or worst.
But for the most part, civility reigns.
It important to be polite but firm. Acknowledge a different argument or new data. Thank you even for bringing it to your attention if it is important enough. There is a lot of emotion and ego at stake. And when an opponent goes low, call him out and then get right back to the arguments.
In all this effort (it has been significant), I believe I have planted some seeds for a rethink later on where the person, to quote Milton and Rose Friedman above, takes it in for future decision-making.
My online encounters link to these posts I have written recently:
On the electricity emergency orders/blackouts (‘greenouts’), I link my two worldview pieces
as well as approximately 25 (and counting) posts at MasterResource.
And for historical context, The Political Rise and Economic Fall of Renewable Energy (TPPF: 2018)
Strategy … and Findings
Positive, upbeat themes take my opponents by surprise. After all, they are fearful and discouraged about the future. I emphasize:
I also ask the hard questions in a way that puts the Malthusians on the defensive:
In these exchanges, I use terms and phrases to land my points. They include:
Climate Debate Point
One argument I have employed on climate change (from Richard Lindzen) is that one can cross the street and not notice the temperature increase that the world has gone through since the 1970s. Yet the alarmists are saying that nature cannot deal with it in a half-century of such gradual change.
I’d make this point at the beginning of a debate to win it.
I find myself using these quotations.
“The greenest fuels are the ones that contain the most energy per pound of material than must be mined, trucked, pumped, piped, and burnt. [In contrast], extracting comparable amounts of energy from the surface would entail truly monstrous environmental disruption…. The greenest possible strategy is to mine and to bury, to fly and to tunnel, to search high and low, where the life mostly isn’t, and so to leave the edge, the space in the middle, living and green.”
– Peter Huber, Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists (New York: Basic Books, 1999), pp. 105, 108.
and this from energy’s first philosopher, Alex Epstein:
“The popular climate discussion … looks at man as a destructive force for climate livability … because we use fossil fuels. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite; we don’t take a safe climate and make it dangerous; we take a dangerous climate and make it safe. High-energy civilization, not climate, is the driver of climate livability.”
– Alex Epstein, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, pp. 126–127.
And from Daniel Yergin (The New Map, p. 422):
“As they grow, wind and solar and EVs will need ‘big shovels’ to meet their increasing call on mined minerals and land itself. It is estimated that an onshore wind turbine requires fifteen hundred tons of iron, twenty-five hundred tons of concrete, and forty-five tons of plastic. About half a million pounds of raw materials have to be mined and processed to make a battery for an electric car.”
And who can not recite the wisdom of the father of energy economics, William Stanley Jevons, who wrote in 1865:
“[T]he economy of power … consists in withdrawing and using our small fraction of force in a happy mode and moment.”
“The first great requisite of motive power is, that it shall be wholly at our command, to be exerted when, and where, and in what degree we desire. The wind, for instance, as a direct motive power, is wholly inapplicable to a system of machine labour, for during a calm season the whole business of the country would be thrown out of gear.”
– W. S. Jevons, The Coal Question, p. 122.
Have you encountered the argument that there is 97% agreement among scientists, and therefore you must be wrong? (The 97% claim can be either trivially correct, or a blatant lie, depending on what the claim happens to be.)
If consensus is important to your opponents, then tell them that the important percentage is 17%, rather than 97%. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations, which represents only 17% of the world’s population, are the nations, generally, which preach that fewer fossil fuels must be used. The 83% of the world population which are not in OECD are in nations which are trying to rapidly grow by using reliable fossil fuels.
On the linked graph of carbon dioxide emissions since 1750, ALL of the increase of emissions in the last 20 or 25 years came from China, India and other Asian nations.
Don: The argument I use against the ‘consensus’ is that it has been the ‘consensus’ since the 1960s that humankind was in massive trouble–get the alarms get cut down to size with time.
“I have fruitfully engaged in debates regarding energy and climate on social media, some on Facebook and most at LinkedIn.”
You should get a Purple Heart if you have the ability to get leftists to debate about anything they believe in !
Climate change is the toughest subject because to alarmists, “climate change” is the belief something terrible will happen to the climate in the future.
They have no proof of this — their belief is not based on science, facts, data and logic. It is like a religious belief, based on faith. You can’t change such a belief — that would be like trying to convince a religious person there is no god. They say a climate crisis is coming. You say it’s not. The debate ends. You could mention that predictions of a coming climate crisis started in 1957, with oceanographer Roger Revelle and some associates. It seems that a climate crisis is always “coming” in 10 or 20 years … and always will be “coming” in 10 or 20 years. Not an easy subject to debate.
Climate Realists don’t waste their time making always wrong wild guesses about a coming climate crisis. But we can remind people they have lived their ENTIRE life with rising levels of atmospheric CO2. And we can remind people there was ACTUAL global warming for the past 45 years. And we can point out that the total global warming in the past 45 years was equivalent to the temperature rise nearly every morning in the hour after sunrise. And we can ask them how the past 45 years of global warming has affected their life.
From my own point of view, I have experienced all 45 years of global warming since the mid-1970s. I’ve experienced it from the same home in southeastern Michigan since 1987, and in an apartment four miles south of that home for seven years before that. The Michigan winters are not as cold as they were in the 1970s. That’s good news. So I love global warming, and want a lot more. At least until we can retire our snow shovels !
In fact, the actual warming since the 1970s most affected colder areas in the Northern Hemisphere, mainly during the six colder months of the year, and mainly at night (UAH satellite data). The “poster child” for that global warming should be warmer winter nights in Siberia. is that a climate emergency? Or should we celebrate that warming? You know where I stand. It’s hard for me to believe people living in relatively cold nations, such as Canada or Sweden, would fear a little warming, assuming warming continues for another 45 years !
Thank you Mr. Greene for these comments.
We are thriving in our climate overall. Yes, greater warmth here-and-there catches citizens off guard.
But A/C, increasingly affordable, is the solution, as is adaptation and entrepreneurship more generally.
Of course I was referring to global warming of up to +1.4 degrees C. That is no problem. Everyone will sing Kumbaya.
But +1.5 degrees C. is a REALLY BIG DEAL People will start dying off from the heat, left and right. Shoe soles will melt on the pavement.
There will be huge traffic jams as everyone gets in their cars and trucks and head to Alaska.
But none of this has to happen. Because I have a solution. Stop compiling the global average temperature before it reaches +1.5 degrees C. No one lives in the global average temperature, so why should anyone care?
I hope to win some kind of prize for this solution. But if I am censored, I have another “solution”.
I have developed solutions for intermittent wind and solar power: — Portable nuclear powered fans to move those pesky windmills when nature won’t, and
— Portable nuclear powered spotlights for the solar panels at night.
My company is called The Nuclear Green Machine Company. I am selling 1% shares for $500 each 1,946 one percent shares are available for accredited investors,
It’s really hard to take the coming climate crisis predictions seriously, after over 60 years of predictions that a climate crisis coming in 10 or 20 years !
I know leftist green zealots have no sense of humor. But I hope Climate Realists do.