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.

8 responses

  1. Unfortunately it all a PR campaign. The Governor should realize that those profit from burning of fossil fuels and sell the dirty stuff to consumers see THEIR jobs/ptofits being ending. That is why there is a big push by the “merchants of doubt”.
    These fuels, as Bill McvKibben points out, is the MOST profitable ever devised by humans!
    Also, I’m afraid with the world pushing to from 7 Billion to 9 Billion people, how are we to drasticly cut emissions?

  2. “The connection between greenhouse gasses (GHG) and global warming is a difficult one for many Americans to grasp.”

    No it isn’t. That’s preposterous. Although the details get very complicated, the gist of GHGs trapping radiated heat is very simple, and it doesn’t elude anybody.

    The problem is that the ‘masses’ see through the hype. We’re told by the left that there’s a ‘consensus’ among ‘scientists’ that AGW is real and is a real problem. But they’re hysterical in their predictions, and the man on the street can’t help but notice that most scientists aren’t too worked up about it. The only reasonable conclusion is that lefties are hyping the issue.

    1. Hi Arch,

      Thanks for your comments.

      Whether or not AGW is real or not, it should not be the “call to arms” for a businesses to do businesses more sustainably. If it is real, but there is no buy-in, it’s a futile rational. If it isn’t real, then there must be another rational besides AGW to do business more sustainably (the bottom line). Either way, IMHO, I don’t think AGW should be at the forefront of the reason to run a business sustainably.


      1. Do you REALLY think that businesses shouldn’t behave more sustainably if there is any possibility that current behavior will have disastrous consequences for the future? Already, climate change is affecting weather patterns in the north, causing caribou to change migration patterns. This is having a detrimental affect on the Inuit populations because caribou is one of their main sources of food. This is just one example among many. We are not simply affecting the survival of other species (we know we are doing this to a great degree), we are also affecting the survival of other humans.

        When we speak of fossil fuels, we usually are thinking of the macro effects. We also need to consider micro, as well. Use of dirty fuels also affect local communities. It negatively affects the health of citizens. This leads to, overall, a lower quality of health per capita. Communities end up having to pay more to care for these people. These are costs which can be avoided by making sure our local air and water are clean.

        We live in a world where too many people forget that Earth is an island. There are limited resources for the billions of people who call it home. We are still continuing to increase the human people despite this. We have families like the Duggar’s who have 20 (just an estimation, at this point) kids. When will we get a clue and stop living like we have another planet to where we can migrate? In the meantime, there are individuals who are brainwashed by petroleum companies and their PR people into believing there is “no consensus among scientist.

    2. My brother is an atmospheric physicist. According to him, an expert in the field, there IS a consensus among scientists that humans are making a huge contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas, leading to subsequent climate change. This is called anthropogenic global warming. There are many large corporation who don’t want people to know this. They pay lots of money to confuse people, whatever their political philosophies. Unfortunately, it is working. It is important for people to understand the science, to some degree, so they can stop being confused, and so they can stop polluting the planet that future generations will inherit.

  3. The connection between empirical evidence and invalidating a scientific hypothesis is difficult for some journalists to grasp. During the 20 years of significant global warming from about 1978 until 1998, Hansen and other climate scientists (the IPCC scientists)voiced concern that greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, was causing unprecedented warming. They constructed models (hypotheses) that project further warming with increasing levels of CO2 and warned that catastrophic warming was likely if mankind didn’t reduce carbon emissions substantially. Fast forward to 2011. Carbon emissions have continued to rise and the percentage of CO2 in our atmosphere is at an all time high (for recorded history), BUT temperatures have remained stable with no futher increase since 1998. An hypothesis is invalidated when the empirical data don’t support it. Do journalists understand that? It’s also common knowledge today that there has been uneven, but fairly steady warming now, about 0.7 C +/- 0.2C per century, for 300 years since the Little Ice Age which ended around 1700. Our recent 20 years of warming is similar to many other periods of warming, such as 1922-1942, nothing unusual. In fact, we have only had 20 years of warming in the last 63 years. The previous 30 years to 1978 saw slight cooling, and to repeat, there has been no additional warming the past 13 years. Nothing unprecedented, nothing unusual. Go to NOAA and check the facts about the 300 year temperature record. Our environment and its creatures need your concern and love, but global warming isn’t one of its problems.

    1. Hi Doug Allen,

      “Our environment and its creatures need your concern and love, but global warming isn’t one of its problems.”

      I love this quote. I am quite fascinated with the efforts of folks that care for the environment and the planet, but where global warming is not at the core of the arguments.


  4. There is no valid evidence that disproves AGW. There is abundant supporting evidence, including the fact that a 5300 year old human body was found thawing in the Alps in 1991. Nobody can identify a natural cause that accounts for this fact. Humans’ relatively recent burning of gigatons of fossil fuels does so very well.

    Doug Allen’s comment that, “Our recent 20 years of warming is similar to many other periods of warming, such as 1922-1942, nothing unusual.” obscures the fact that today’s temperatures are the highest in at least 5 millenia. As noted above, AGW is the only valid cause.

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