Environment

Rule #1 for Climate Discourse?

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorJan 11, 2011 4:20 PM

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A reader of James Fallows has a suggestion to better focus the national discussion of the moment that is equally relevant to the climate change debate:

I would love to see a list of common sense rules (similar to Michael Pollan's food rules) that serve as good reminders of civil discourse. What would you like to see on such a list? My first one, for example: "Never speak with the insinuation that your opponents do not have the best interest of Americans at heart."

If only Joe Romm and Anthony Watts, two of the most popular climate bloggers that happen to occupy opposite ends of the climate spectrum, would take that advice to heart. For the record, I do believe that both of these men have the best interest of Americans at heart. On a somewhat related note, via Andrew Sullivan, Fallows colleague at The Atlantic, I was made aware of this interesting post that suggests "arguments about climate change" provide

one useful way to think about the relationship between violent rhetoric and violent action.

The climate change example discussed by the blogger "Henry" relates not to civil dialogue but to the causal connection often invoked for random weather and disaster events. He writes:

...it is usually going to be next to impossible to tell whether any given event is 'caused' by climate change...Testing arguments about climate change involves multiple data points and the usual problems of statistical inference etc. Similarly, it is probably a bad idea to attribute any particular violent action to an overall climate of violent rhetoric without some strong evidence of a direct causal relationship.

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