Attacking in a Different Direction

Over the last year or so, I’ve discovered that one of the biggest problems with not blogging on something “as soon as the idea strikes me/while the iron is hot” is that I can’t always remember where I found the story in the first place. (Of course, I have trouble remembering what happened 5 minutes ago, let alone yesterday. So maybe this is a sign of a larger problem than simply sloth.)

Such a vaguely-originated blog topic is this humdinger from the guys at The Breakthrough Institute, courtesy of The Hill’s energy and environment blog, E2 Wire. Seems that Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, authors of an essay entitled “Freeing Energy Policy From The Climate Change Debate,” believe that many scientists are damaging their credibility by tying their calls for environmental reform too closely to climate change:

While the urge to blame fossil-fuel-funded skeptics for this recent bad turn of events has proven irresistible for most environmental leaders and pundits, forward-looking greens wishing to ascertain what might be salvaged from the wreckage would be well advised to look closer to home. Climate science, even at its most uncontroversial, could never motivate the remaking of the entire global energy economy. Efforts to use climate science to threaten an apocalyptic future should we fail to embrace green proposals, and to characterize present-day natural disasters as terrifying previews of an impending day of reckoning, have only served to undermine the credibility of both climate science and progressive energy policy.

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Whatever one’s views on either the “Environmental Question” itself or on the legitimacy of the science behind the “Question,” this seems like a very worthwhile concern. The premises one uses in one’s arguments are of profound importance. But the presentation of one’s argument is far too often overlooked — a fact which can severely damage one’s hopes of converting one’s opponents.

Myself, I would welcome a bit of oil being poured on the boiling waters of this particularly heated debate, and a pull-back from the Chicken Littleism that seems to dominate the conversation would seem very beneficial. If it would just quiet down a bit, I might actually be able to make up my mind.

Sadly, the comments on both the original piece and on The Hill’s blogpost do not seem destined to “soothe” anything. Or anyone.

  • Joseph Susanka

    Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. Currently residing in Lander, Wyoming — “where Stetsons meet Birkenstocks” — he is a columnist for Crisis Magazine and the Patheos Catholic portal.

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