Terminating the GHG Debate: CA Governors Schwarzenegger and Davis

The connection between greenhouse gasses (GHG) and global warming is a difficult one for many Americans to grasp. The connection may be obvious for 3p readers but for folks that may be global warming naysayers, the connection between human induced emissions and a global heat wave is tenuous. Why should folks and companies reduce their GHG output if they do not even believe in global warming connection? How can we put this argument to bed for once and for all?

At the Navigating the American Carbon World 2011 conference, both of California’s most recent governors, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Gray Davis, spoke on how to terminate the GHG debate. One would think, since the governors come from different political parties that their political positions and responses to global warming would be very different. Yet, there seemed to be agreement between the former governors.

Schwarzenenger proposed, “Why are we debating the science, when we can be making progress? We cannot make everyone think exactly like we do.” He further suggested that we talk about what people care about, and that what people care about is what benefits them.

One thing people care about, especially these days is jobs. Rather than talk about the science of climate change, Schwarzenegger, suggested talking about exactly that. More specifically, talk about job creation. While those jobs may be indeed created to lower GHG emissions, the focus on the job creation.

Davis further adds that it “insanity to allow our economy to be at the whim of foreign powers,” referencing our energy dependence on foreign oil. This attempts to speak at the state or national identity that we have, perhaps at the same time lowering GHG emissions via foreign oil.

Governor Davis stated that in politics, there are multiple points of view, but in Detroit (referencing auto makers) there is one point of view: the bottom line.

All things being equal, we can talk to folks and companies all the global warming science there is in the world. But if given all the planetary benefits, if company actions or political action severly harms their bottom line, do you think a company would be interested? Similar to how the governors emphasised focusing on what people care about, we need to focus on what companies care about.

In order to terminate the GHG debate, we need to terminate the GHG debate [sic]. In other words, don’t even talk about GHG’s. Instead, talk about what people really care about.

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.