Climate Strike Illustrates Lack of Support for Climate Agenda

September 23, 2019

by Rob Roper

On Friday, a hoard of mostly public school students, arms twisted to skip algebra class to go outside on a beautiful day, spilled into the streets in order to block traffic and generally disrupt to the extent possible the daily lives of hardworking citizens. This protest is organized by lobbyist and special interest groups such as Bill McKibben’s 350VT and VPIRG. The idea is to give the impression that a majority of Vermonters demands bold action on climate change now. But it really illustrates the opposite.

Yes, a few thousand people took part in the protests (again, mostly school kids given the chance to skip class), but this represents a very small percentage of Vermont’s 620,000 residents.

This strike is a grand temper tantrum raging at the fact that most people do not, in fact, agree with the protesters’ alarmist views on climate. If a majority, or even a respectably large vocal minority, did agree the highly sympathetic Vermont legislature with supermajorities in both the house and senate would have passed the package of demanded reforms faster than you can say “ALGORE.” They didn’t. Not because they don’t want to, but because they know that if they did the overwhelming majority of voters would skin them alive at the polls come November 2020.

The questions for tomorrow and beyond are A) if the sane majority of Vermonters can be intimidated and/or duped by this display of mob outrage, and B) if the sympathetic legislature will attempt to use this as cover for passing an agenda most Vermonters want no part of.

The answers to both questions lie with the silent majority. Personally, I think the strike and following week of action will backfire on the protesters. Making somebody wait in traffic for however long as they are trying to get to work, make it to an appointment at the DMV or the doctor, or go to the post office is not going to inspire affection. Moreover, Vermonters have historically been proud of “The Vermont Way” of conducting politics, which is civilly and respectfully. There is nothing civil or respectful about “disrupting” daily life.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerry E Tillotson September 24, 2019 at 3:02 pm

Would you be willing to share the specific data you compiled in your extensive survey of the general public in Vermont that shows the majority of voters are opposed to passing legislation to protect the environment from the damage caused by the burning of fossil fuels and that they would skin legislators alive if such measures were passed?

Reply

Rob September 24, 2019 at 3:32 pm

Sure. Before the last election, Castleton did a poll of Vermonters asking what the most important issues the legislature should tackle, and “Energy & Environment” got a 6% response — keeping in mind that the way the question is framed the respondents could include people who think energy prices are too high and we should drop subsidized renewables. So, not a big number, and this is a common result in Vermont as well as nationally. Reuters did a poll and discovered when people were asked if they would be willing to spend $12.50 a month in taxes to pay for climate policies, support dropped to about 30%. What these protesters are calling for will cost a lot more than $12.50 a month! In the last session I was present in several committee and caucus meetings in which left leaning legislators stated in frustration that their constituents were not on board with their climate change agenda. Rep. Tommy Walz of Barre, speaking to the Climate Caucus, of which he is a member, that he did a survey of his constituents about priorities, and climate change came in dead last. Another such conversation in the Energy and Technology committee led to a quote by the Rep from Charlotte (I won’t try to spell his name as I always get it wrong), “If our constituents say don’t do this (enact radical CO2 reduction policies), we should be able to tell them we have to do it.” And then, of course, there is the old adage of look at what people do rather than what they say, and sympathetic legislators did not pass these bills? Why? Because their constituents are not on board. If they were, they pass the laws and be hoisted on shoulders as heroes.

Reply

Mike September 27, 2019 at 9:33 pm

Here we go again. The vocal minority gets all the ink. It will never end.

Reply

Paul Kenyon September 28, 2019 at 12:41 am

Jerry, I’m interested in this subject and your question states the question well. …”to protect the environment from the damage caused by the burning of fossil fuels….” What, exactly, is the damage caused by the burning of fossil fuels? The cause, as you phrase your statement, is certain; it’s fossil fuels. More explicitly, usually it is said that it’s the generation of CO2 that is damaging the environment. What damage?
It is interesting that as I review the data I have been able to see, CO2 appears to have never driven climate before though CO2 atmospheric concentration has been as high as 7000 ppm. A tipping point has certainly never been reached or we wouldn’t be here to discuss this.
Could a change from 280 ppm to 400 ppm, a change of 1.2 molecules of CO2 in 10,000 molecules of atmosphere really do so much damage? If so, one would think that the correlation between CO2 and Earth’s temperature would be lock-step, but it appears quite the opposite in the graphs. Al Gore got it wrong in his presentation of the Vostok ice core graph in his film “An Inconvenient Truth.” It turns out that it is temperature that has always lead CO2, not the other way around. You could see that from the theater seat if you’re used to reading graphs.
So where is the data that shows that CO2 is Earth’s primary climate driver? I’ve been looking for it. I’ve also been looking for evidence that photovoltaic arrays and wind turbines actually reduce significant CO2 on the modern grids where they are installed as they’re claimed to be doing. Interestingly, for convenient reasons–that the data is proprietary to the company that owns the arrays and turbines, for example–that data seems to simply be either secret or absent.
One thing we truly know about CO2 is that it is a potent plant food and that the Earth has greened some 15% since satellites have been measuring that aspect of planetary health.
Other claims of planetary disaster are also troubling. We’re told the polar bear populations are falling because of loss of sea ice, that there are more forest fires, drier droughts, bigger floods, stronger and more hurricanes and tornadoes because of “Climate Change.” Where is the data that supports those claims? Interestingly, the NOAA data shows that none of those weather claims are true and polar bears are actually thriving their numbers having risen from 7000 on 1950 to over 28,000 today.
And, in any event, even such symptoms of a changing climate, if that what it would indicate, does not point necessarily to CO2. What brought us the Medieval Warm Period or the Roman Warm Period? Not man’s CO2 emissions. And that driver must still be out there at work today. To jump to the conclusion that CO2 is the cause, suggests a logical fallacy at work: argument from ignorance. It goes like this: It (CO2) is what we say it is (driving climate) because we can’t think of anything else that would cause it (the warming.)
This fallacy of logical thinking has other forms that have had sad impacts. One, called “negative corpus” held, until 1977, that if a building fire, in this instance, had no obvious cause, it was arson…somebody did it and that person, if a suspect was found, was put in prison or occasionally executed. People have died because of this kind of misguided thinking.
The data showing that CO2 is driving climate should be easy to produce. The alarmists have a 97% consensus of scientists, or so it is claimed. Surely not a single scientist worth the name would sign on to something like that without seeing the data, so 97% of scientists must have the data. No problem. Please share it. We need to know.
It seems to me that if that data really did exist, it would be flown from the highest flagpoles and shouted from mountain tops. We would hear about it loudly and often and all in great detail. Instead, alarmists are oddly quiet about that wonderful proof and do fuzzy things like renaming CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming: it’s a catastrophe, man is doing it, it is global and it is a warming) which is clear and precise, to “Climate Change” leading to the obvious and (intentional) confusion with what the climate has always done, change, I believe George Orwell demonstrates this kind of manipulation of language in his book, 1984. Surely it is reasonable for some of us to wonder if that data exists.
If it does exist, I’ll be happy to see it. It will let me get off the fence about this subject. One thing is clear, though. If we move ahead without the data supporting the projects we propose to “solve the problem,” we’re going to make one heck of a mess at great cost. No (engineering) project I’ve ever been a part of has succeeded without good data supporting it. If there really is a problem–indeed, a crisis–we must have the data so we can make the right decisions. Anything else is just guessing.

Reply

gdp September 28, 2019 at 3:44 pm

Well said. Only one addition. We are already making ‘one heck of a [political] mess at great cost.’ Lawmaking should be based on not only solid, but SUBSTANTIAL evidence, demonstrating pervasive HARMFUL impact in FACT, not theory. Environmentalism, including Climate Change theory, is not preventing harm, but creating it, whether in commerce, manufacture or consumption, and there to exposing us to risk from a failure to properly HUSBAND our natural resources.

Reply

William Hays September 28, 2019 at 2:42 am

I question whether tripling of the Polar bear population is a ‘good thing’. Methinks not. Adopt one and find out…

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
Read more...

Latest News

OneCare – Scrap it Now

October 21, 2019 by Rob Roper After the epic failure of Peter Shumlin’s single payer healthcare scheme in 2014, the next big “reform” that took its place was...

PC Police Sucking the Joy Out of Childhood

October 18, 2019 by Rob Roper Edmunds Elementary School in Burlington, so reports WPTZ, has decided to cancel its annual Halloween parade. Sadly, I doubt anybody is surprised...

TCI and the Poor

October 15, 2019 by John McClaughry Over the years I have frequently sparred with John Greenberg, a stalwart of the campaign to shut down Vermont Yankee. He is...

Big Carbon Tax Back on the Table

October 14, 2019 by Rob Roper This past Friday (October 11) at the Renewable Energy Conference Burlington’s Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger (D), flanked by VPIRG, announced support for...

What Hong Kong Can Teach Vermont

“You had the opportunity to show the world what civilized China can be. But you know what? You have failed badly. We want freedom, and freedom is what...

Video