Questions for Conservatives

Do conservatives believe in evolution and global warming?

DougJ has been “trying to read some conservative blogs this year,” including this one, and is, “trying to get as many people who write or comment there and on other conservative blogs to answer the following two questions:

1) Do you believe in evolution?

2) Do you believe that the average temperature on earth has increased over the past 30 years?

I answered in his comment section but will double up here:

1) Yes
2) Yes

Expanding:

1) I’m an atheist, so this isn’t really an issue for me.

2) I don’t think there’s any doubt about this among educated people. Anticipating the follow-up, it seems reasonable that at least some of the warming is attributable to humankind and our altering of our habitat through technology.

Where we may or may not differ is on what to do about 2).

Since he’s interested in the reactions of commenters, feel free to weigh in.

Update (Doug Mataconis) DougJ seems interested in responses from the contributors and commenters, so here are my responses

1) Yes. Although, I’ve got to admit that I’ve always cringed at the question of whether someone “believes” in evolution because it makes it sound like just another opinion rather than being the very basis of modern biology. As I’ve noted several times in the posts on the topic I’ve done here, it’s simply impossible to believe in most of modern biology if you don’t accept the fundamental ideas of evolution and natural selection. Asking someone if they “believe” in it is like asking them if they believe in gravity or the Theory of Relativity.

2) Yes. I think the evidence for global temperature increases is fairly incontrovertible at this point, and yes, at least part of that is due to the fact that human civilization produces by-products that have an impact on the climate (although man has been having an impact on the climate since the day that the first caveman lit the first fire). What we can, or should, do in response to this fact is a political issue about which disagreement is possible, however.

I suspect most of the people who comment here on a regular basis are going to have responses similar to James and I.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DougJ says:

    Thanks.

  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    Ditto Doug’s comment.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    1. Yes. Though I have frequently commented here criticizing abuse heaped on people who believe in some form of creationism. I would probably pull my children out of a school or class that taught creationism as some form of science.

    2. Yes.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    I would go a step farther than PD Shaw. I would be reluctant to base any high-tech company in a state such as Mississippi, Alabama or Texas, where anti-science has become public policy.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I believe that God is responsible for global warming. He’s playing the old frog-in-hot-water trick. He’s raising the temperature little by little, degree by degree, and we won’t even notice until we die. Ah hah hah hah!

    Oh, that Jehovah. What a kidder.

    This is why we need to divert all our resources to building spaceships to escape this planet and live on Mars. Which it turns out is quite cool. Possibly as a consequence of having very little air.

  6. James Young says:

    I basically agree with your answers — I am somewhat skeptical “that the average temperature on earth has increased over the past 30 years” — but the questions beg more important, underlying issues of causation. Specifically:

    (1) Does belief/conclusion that evolution explains the origins of the natural world exclude belief in God as the causative force?

    (2) Does belief/conclusion that the average temperature on earth has increased over the past 30 years necessitate belief in anthropomorphic global climate change?

    I would answer both of those questions in the negative.

  7. mantis says:

    Does belief/conclusion that evolution explains the origins of the natural world exclude belief in God as the causative force?

    No, evolution does not exclude belief in God. Ask the Catholic Church. And the theory of evolution does not “explain the origin of the natural world,” it explains the origin of species by means of natural selection. That’s why Darwin titled his book that way. The question really shouldn’t be “do you believe in evolution,” as Doug points out, but rather “do you believe the theory of evolution correctly explains how the variety of life on Earth came to be?”

    Does belief/conclusion that the average temperature on earth has increased over the past 30 years necessitate belief in anthropomorphic global climate change?

    No, the simple fact of a warming climatic trend does not in itself necessitate a belief in human-influence. However, the preponderance of evidence supporting that conclusion does.

    I would answer both of those questions in the negative

    That’s why DougJ asked the questions he did, and not your questions. Basically he wants to know how many conservatives accept reality.

  8. BigFire says:

    1) Yes. Conservative Atheist.
    2) Yes, but considered previous 30 years has so much cooling that ice age scare was the global warming of its day, and we seem to be heading back down to cooling again, that answer really means nothing.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    Contra Michael’s blaming G*d, the existance of evolution means that slow, incremental increases in temperature will allow humanity to adapt, or at least those blessed with the gift of spontaneous mutuations, to become a race of fire-eating, leather-skinned salamenders, capable of thriving in our improved atmosphere, if not also the sun. It will be so kewl.

  10. Eric Florack says:

    James Young wins the prize. I’m in full agreement.

  11. mantis says:

    considered previous 30 years has so much cooling that ice age scare was the global warming of its day, and we seem to be heading back down to cooling again, that answer really means nothing.

    Wrong.

    Climate science as we know it today did not exist in the 1960s and 1970s. The integrated enterprise embodied in the Nobel Prize winning work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change existed then as separate threads of research pursued by independent groups of scientists. Atmospheric chemists and modelers grappled with the measurement and understanding of carbon dioxide and other atmospheric gases while geologists and paleoclimate researchers tried to understand when Earth slipped into and out of ice ages, and why. An enduring popular myth suggests that in the 1970s the climate science community was predicting “global cooling” and an “imminent” ice age, an observation frequently used by those who would undermine what climate scientists say today about the prospect of global warming.

    A review of the literature suggests that, to the contrary, greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists’ thinking about the most important forces shaping Earth’s climate on human time scales. More importantly than showing the falsehood of the myth, this review shows the important way scientists of the time built the foundation on which the cohesive enterprise of modern climate science now rests.

    We did not have “so much cooling” in the previous 30 years, and ice age scare was not the global warming of its day, despite what various denialists will tell you.

  12. jwest says:

    Mantis appears to have the best response to these questions, except for his mistaken assumption about the preponderance of evidence concerning global warming.

    When the legal system forces the release of the base data on temperatures and they are evaluated openly on a non-political, scientific basis, we can determine if any warming has occurred over the past 30 years. Current claims by the IPCC are hard to assess due to the enormous amount of backpedaling they are doing based on previous ravings.

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    1)no, x atheist conservative. I no longer am brainwashed by the evolution creation story as the bases for the atheist region. My eyes have been opened by the creation creation story in comparison, and I now find the evolution creation story stupid, fabricated and goofy.

    2)lol……..

    I do like Harry’s idea, why else would mother nature evolve you into knowing how to build Rocket ships? Mars of bust, let the new government you establish there worry about providing air…..

  14. John Burgess says:

    1. Yes
    2. Yes

    Been voting Republican since the 60s. But then, I’ve been reading science since the 50s.

  15. largebill says:

    All creatures including humans have changed or evolved. However, I don’t think it is as clear cut as some make it out to be that we went from monkey’s to humans. Last I checked we still have monkeys

    The second issue is more important since folks are attempting to use misinformation on the subject to drive government spending/taxing to solve what may not even be a problem. My own view on it is AGW is bunk. Have temperatures changed over time? Yes, and they always have changed. Between warming periods and mini-ice ages the earth has been going through climate change since the beginning of time. The difference is we now have some humans arrogant enough to think they have the power to change the climate. These same morons probably believed their parents when they yelled “Close the door, whatcha doing trying to do air condition (or heat depending on time of year) the neighborhood.” Guess what? That giant ball of fire you can see during daylight has a whole lot more to do with out shifting weather patterns.

  16. mantis says:

    except for his mistaken assumption about the preponderance of evidence concerning global warming.

    It’s not a mistaken assumption. I’m very familiar with the research in this topic.

    When the legal system forces the release of the base data on temperatures and they are evaluated openly on a non-political, scientific basis, we can determine if any warming has occurred over the past 30 years.

    The base data agree with the satellite data, and ocean temperature data, etc,, and they all show significant warming. Stop reading Watts. It makes you stupid.

    However, I don’t think it is as clear cut as some make it out to be that we went from monkey’s to humans

    Good, because the science doesn’t suggest we evolved from monkeys, and no one really claims that (though anti-science religious folks insist we do).

    Last I checked we still have monkeys

    Well, you win the prize for most ignorant comment so far. Congrats.

    The difference is we now have some humans arrogant enough to think they have the power to change the climate.

    Do me a favor. Explain to us how you think CO2 levels impact the Earth’s climate. We’ll call it a test. Can you pass it?

  17. john personna says:

    1) yes, 2) yes

    Though the second question is the trickiest. Average temperature isn’t as simple as it seems, and includes deep oceans and ice shelves in the “summation.”

    I’m confident that increased CO2 has increased that temperature because … that’s what CO2 does. Simple as that. You can’t just imagine a world where CO2 does otherwise. You’d need a different molecule.

  18. matt says:

    1. Yes and while I’m agnostic at best I see no reason why you cannot believe in god and evolution at the same time. Hell you could claim that evolution was part of god’s great genius allowing for his creations to improve on their own.

    2. Yup. IT’s definitely getting hotter overall causing wild weather patterns. I also believe it would be incredibly arrogant of us to believe that we could endlessly pollute our living area and have no negative results. If as a kid you’re given a super expensive toy do you just throw it around and not care or do you at least take care of it and try to maintain it? Now imagine that toy is Earth…

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Yes and while I’m agnostic at best I see no reason why you cannot believe in god and evolution at the same time. Hell you could claim that evolution was part of god’s great genius allowing for his creations to improve on their own.***

    Yes you could, But not the God of the Bible. Now the gods of my D&D mythos were much like this because I was still brainwashed whence I created them and could imagine no other way to do it.

    To steal a purpose of meaning in a statement form Harry, There is no Evolution!!!!!!

  20. G.A.Phillips says:

    ****Good, because the science doesn’t suggest we evolved from monkeys, and no one really claims that (though anti-science religious folks insist we do).****

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2/4371gc8-28-2000.asp

  21. G.A.Phillips says:
  22. G.A.Phillips says:
  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    I could go all night with both!!!!!! Only one of them makes sense and it is a crock of poop to say that evolutionist don’t believe we came from the monkey in anything other than a crock of poop way!

  24. matt says:

    GA almost always cracks me up.. Nice diggin up the ol DnD reference..

  25. Steve Plunk says:

    Yes. Science and belief in God are reconcilable. And besides, it doesn’t have an effect on me. Evolution true or untrue? Who cares?

    Yes. But not AGW. The failure of climate science to include all data and all hypothesis proved it is built it’s AGW argument on shaky ground. The exposed emails showed us the politics involved and the fact they can’t be trusted. Cyclical explanations have been ignored and the fact AGW proponents love to use anecdotal evidence to bolster their claims adds to my skepticism. Tipping Point? A load of hooey meant to scare people.

  26. Ej says:

    the component of #2 that often gets lost is that magnitude is important. If the human component of change or anticipated change in minimal, the costs of mitigation might outweigh the benifits. And this is where there is a lot of unknown, which frustrates the hell out of me when people say you are “anti science” or “deny” fact when you bring this point up. Temperature records that are older than satelite readings (1979) are all over the place. And predictive models vary greatly too. Furthermore, its difficult to strip out CO2 effect from other natural climate and solar cycles.

  27. Franklin says:

    The difference is we now have some humans arrogant enough to think they have the power to change the climate.

    In order to argue the above point, you need some raw numbers. Clearly I have the power to change the climate in my house. Corporations have been able to pollute rather vast areas. Various governments have successfully seeded clouds to make it rain. With 6+ billion people, it seems quite conceivable that we have the power to change the global climate. The real question is: how much?

    Tipping Point? A load of hooey meant to scare people.

    I’m wishy-washy on AGW, having not read enough of the relevant literature (both pro & con), but the sentence above implies a big conspiracy without a clear motive. You’re trying to suggest that all 97+% of climate scientists who believe in AGW don’t want you to burn fossil fuels, for some unknown reason other than that they think it’s bad for the environment.

  28. john personna says:

    AGW is simply true, but if you are old enough you can probably live out your life pretending otherwise.

    Call it a game plan.

    It’s not a real intellectually honest game plan, but is a game plan nonetheless. And, I suspect it is at the back of many commenters’ minds.

  29. john personna says:

    To expand, for anyone with a shadow of an open mind, CO2 responds to solar radiation by heating, better than the 02 that it replaces in the atmosphere. That means at a basic level that more CO2 means more heat. Thus as someone said, the only question is scale, and yes, tipping points.

    So back up and look at the contortions going on. We have a warming world, we have more CO2, and the most politically conservative among us try to find arguments that CO2 might not be the cause or might not be the driver.

    The political linkage to disbelief gives an understanding of the broader human dynamic.

    People who don’t want to believe that gasoline fueled capitalism can do any wrong … will find a way to believe that.

  30. Tano says:

    “I don’t think it is as clear cut as some make it out to be that we went from monkey’s to humans. Last I checked we still have monkeys ”

    We did not evolve from modern monkeys. That is not what evolution posits. That would be like saying that you are descended from your cousin.

    Modern monkeys and humans have a common ancestor. That ancestor, as best we can tell, resembled a modern monkey somewhat moreso that it resembled us, but it was significantly different from modern monkeys. The lines that evolved into monkeys did evolve and change, but given that there were not dramatic changes in the habitat occupied by those species, the changes were not nearly as outwardly dramatic as in our lineage.

    Think about it. If some of our commenters who want to go to Mars were to do so, and to establish a permanent colony there, and if over thousands of years the people isolated there evolved in a different direction than those of us on earth, such that we were no longer reproductively compatible – hence they would form a new species – would you conclude that they could not be related to us humans because there still were humans around?

  31. […] temperature over the last 30 years. Jason Kuznicki at League of Ordinary Gentlemen bites, as does James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, and Will at League of Ordinary Gentlemen […]

  32. mannning says:

    1. Evolution: There is macro evolution within species. How the multitude of species got started, especially from the Pre-Cambrian period, is definitely not clear from any fossil evidence. Micro evolution is a far more complex issue, with some evidence of evolution and more evidence of great difficulties with natural selection at the cellular level.

    2.Global Warming: The Earth has cycled through warm and cold periods for millinia. There is considerable evidence that we are entering a cold period, but also an eventual warming period over 50 years plus. There has been no global warming for the last ten years. I would go with the research that shows a possible warming over the next 50 years of a degree or two. Our manmade CO2 contribution is peanuts. There is very incomplete scientific understanding involved in the roles of clouds/water vapor, the sun, sunspots, and other gases such as methane, and the models used so far are woefully incomplete. The need is for more and better science, not demagogery or outright fabrications a la Al Gore..