Reflections on Trump’s election: Taking the long view

Lots of people – including me, I confess – never saw it coming. Lots of people are shocked, emotions raw, dismayed about what the election says about a divided America and the uncertain moral basis for a society knit together by more than ideology.

Part of this is because this election represents the overturn of a worldview that has been generally accepted as the global settlement since the end of World War II. That’s a long, long time for a set of interconnected assumptions about the way things work to last. In a sense it’s unusual they have endured as long as they have.

Climate Change: The scientific consensus has been that global warming is caused by the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that has been caused largely by man-made activity – and has led to worldwide increases in temperature and drastic changes in climate. It looks as though the election has hardened the political will to ignore this and end efforts to slow down climate change.

International Trade: Economists have taught for decades that national economies prosper by concentrating on their particular comparative advantages which are best expressed by free trade among nations. Though evidence is mixed, many believe lots of American workers have lost their jobs as a result of poorly negotiated international trade agreements that have disadvantaged America. Renegotiating (or withdrawing from) trade agreements could jeopardize global – and national -- economic growth.

Human Rights: The moral case for treating women and minorities as equal and full-fledged citizens has spread from the U.S. throughout the world, while the movement for equal rights for gays and others of differing gender is growing. Much political rhetoric spouted during the election has made it increasingly acceptable to say nasty things about various minority groups in our society.

Reproductive Rights: Contraception is widespread among American women, while the right to an abortion is fiercely defended by many women, including many who might never want to have one themselves. The election is very likely to lead to attempts to end government funding of groups like Planned Parenthood.

Immigration: America is a nation of immigrants, and the general consensus has been that the signature vigor, entrepreneurship and energy of our society stems in large part from the immigrants among us. Moreover, many native-born Americans will not do the kind of work immigrants do for low wages, while employers uniformly complain of needing to turn to immigrants to find the skilled and knowledge-rich workers they need.

Yet “Brexit” – the decision by British voters in June to pull out of the European Union – and stiffening resistance across Europe and the Middle East to new arrivals from the Middle East has signaled a weakening of sympathy for newcomers; ditto Donald Trump’s idea of building a wall between the US and Mexico.

Government: The economist John Maynard Keynes showed that government policy could reverse or at least lessen the bad effects of economic recessions. Since then, the idea that government action can help achieve social ends has gained general acceptance. But this election raised questions as to whether that is valid.

Two other factors weigh heavily on my mind as I try to understand how this election worked:

  • One, Hillary Clinton is an incrementalist who got caught in a “change” election and couldn’t change gears.
  • Two, vision matters, and the slogan “Make America Great Again” was a brilliant stroke.

There is a one-to-one correlation between voter enthusiasm and turnout, and there is often a direct relationship between a candidate having a compelling vision for our society and the enthusiasm of the voters. Many people who voted for Clinton were voting mainly against Trump, not for her vision for our society.

Over this weekend, I spent some time reading and re-reading Bridge Magazine’s pre- and post-election coverage, paying particular attention to those articles that explored those parts of our society that were less well covered or understood by the media. In doing that, I was particularly struck by these quotes as reflecting the energy of the pro-Trump vote and therefore deserve close consideration:

“We have lost our way as Americans.”

“I don’t agree with everything Trump says or does. But the man has balls. That’s all there is to it.”

“We need someone to stand up for this nation.”

Here’s a last thought in these post-election reflections. The worst curse you can place on an opponent is, “May you win an overwhelming majority in the election.” Overwhelming victories very often end up with overreaching and voter backlash.

Whether it was Democrat Lyndon Johnson in 1964 or Republican Richard Nixon in 1972, both landslide victories ended in catastrophe for the victor.

This year’s race was anything but a landslide, and indeed Donald Trump lost the popular vote. But it was a huge upset, and there’s a tendency for the winners to feel smug and the losers distraught.

Those celebrating in triumph today, as well as those who can hardly endure the result, should keep the lessons of history firmly in mind.

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Paul Babladelis
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 9:44am
You present a thoughtful analysis and a long term perspective that provides some relief for those who feel hopeless. It is also important to view this election as a realization of a neoliberal agenda set in motion more than 45 years ago. This movement, largely based on ideas presented in the Powell Memo, and used as an operating manual by Ronald Reagan, have persisted and gained ground over time despite occasional setbacks. I am not throwing up a straw man here, but do believe an analysis of this election needs to consider the impacts and influence of the neoliberal movement.
Nat Pernick
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 9:49am
Not mentioned is that many of the faults in today's society are due to greedy CEOs, and the anti-tax / anti-government movement. I myself have owned small businesses almost continuously over the past 40 years, and am a devout capitalist. But excessive CEO pay (google CEO pay ratios) has markedly contributed to income inequality, and shows no sign of lessening up. Many of these CEOs have supported the anti-tax movement, which in Michigan and elsewhere, extended the last recession, has made Michigan a leader in the "race to the bottom", and has also worsened this state's future. If today, at the top of the auto cycle, we cannot afford to adequately fund schools, cities, universities and roads, what will happen in a few years when the inevitable recession strikes?
David
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 9:49am
Assuming that the goal was 'change', this means different things to different people. If the idea is to somehow go back to 1950 when anyone out of high-school could get a permanent job that would pay for a house and putting the children through college, this does not appear likely. Also unlikely is a return to the days of 'coal is king'. The advantage of such a nebulous platform is that the voters could project onto it whatever it was that they secretly wanted.
Richard Zeile
Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:02pm
Perhaps the performance standards for high school graduates in 1950 were higher than those of today. At the very least, graduates learned to respect authority and follow directions, skills which appear sorely lacking in too many of our unemployed/unemployable today.
Daniel Schifko
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 9:58am
Mr. Power you still don't get it. We voted to ba America again.
Bernadette
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 10:00am
I was not shocked by the results, just disappointed. This is the America we have today. Polarized, angry, frustrated, and nostalgic for the America of 1950. Trump tapped into the emotional energy fueling that memory. Yes, all the progress made around the critical issues facing us today seems to be at risk. Nature is bigger than even Donald Trump, and the angry Americans who voted for him. We can pretend only so long, but the reality of climate change has already caught up with us, as seen in the droughts, severe storms, flooding and multiple other disasters we face. Donald does not have the skillset to run a country. Authoritarianism is attractive to those who voted for Trump who want certainty. As a wife, mother and grandmother, Donald and all his GOP buddies who have normalized the petulant behavior of spoiled teenagers. Good luck with that. I am still who I am and will continue to be a loving presence in the world. I will work to make America a better place to live.
Matt
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 10:01am
Phil, one thing I think you missed: the media claiming it was uneducated whites that were supporting Trump. I am sure that they meant those without college degrees but it did sound as belittling and elitist. Skilled trades like plumbing, electrical, construction don't require a degree, but are necessary for society. This probably increased the voter turn out in Trump's favor.
John
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 10:07am
Mr. Power, we voted to flush the left wing agenda, the kind that you are spouting above. There is no consensus on "man-made global climate change," formerly "man-made global warming" (the left changes the terminology when their "theory" no longer fits the facts). Also, is it fair when Japan, China and other countries apply tariffs on American goods while we aren't? I am canceling my subscription to The Bridge. You lefties don't get it, and you never give up spinning lies.
Daddy
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 11:55am
John - help me understand how you can say there is "no consensus" on manmade climate change? I don't understand how you can say this. The consensus is clear as day. What am I missing, John?
john
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 7:06pm
So you cancel because the truth bothers you. Is that how you react when everything doesn't agree with your view? You must be special. Good Riddance.
John Q.
Wed, 11/16/2016 - 3:12pm
"Canceling your subscription" to the Bridge? I'm quite confident that you never supported the Bridge in any way financially or otherwise.
Jay
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 10:13am
There are so many contradictions in what you say Phil. First, climate change keeps being debated and even some so called expert scientists can't agree on the causes of climate change. However, everyone sure likes the cheaper energy of coal to recharge their smartphones, iPods, and laptops. How much would people be willing to pay for more expensive renewable energy? Should we erect more windmills? Don't the windmills disrupt the navigation of migrating birds and bats? Aren't bat populations down and there's a growing concern that fewer bats means that there will be less plant pollination? Where's the answer then Phil? We hear so much debate and talk about climate change but no one can seem to give a straight answer as to what should be done about it.
Daddy
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:00pm
Jay - again, I don't get it. Man made climate change. Science doesn't need 100% agreement, but 98% agreement from worldwide scientific community means the CASE HAS BEEN MADE. It is clear, Jay. Why do you continue to deny the credibility of this overwhelming opinion among scientists? The only thing I can think of is that you also deny the existence of evolution, which also stands at 98%. If that is the case, you should just say that you don't believe in science.
Jay
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:26pm
Oh Daddy, it's obviously over your head. Keep relying on statistics and believing what the scientific experts tell you, or don't tell you, like a good little boy. I didn't say that climate change isn't real. If man is to blame for climate change, then what's the answer to reverse it or quell it as much as possible? Should we build more windmills, which scientific experts have been saying also harm bird migrations? Is "renewable" energy more expensive and would you be willing to pay more to recharge your smartphone? Or should we stick with coal which means lower electrical bills? So Daddy, what's the answer? How about we just shut down every plant that burns fossil fuels and while we're at it, get rid of the internal combustion engine and all drive electric vehicles? No more gas stations, no more oil or propane or natural gas to heat our homes, nothing but windmills and solar panels everywhere. So how do we get to that point Daddy? What do you have to say to the people that work in those industries? Their jobs are contributing to climate change, right? Start thinking and creating feasible solutions rather than throwing around useless statistics to make your ego feel superior to us know nothings.
R W
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 9:20pm
Consensus IS NOT SCIENCE!
Barry Visel
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 10:22am
A lot of people voted for a lot of different reasons in this election, but I think one major reason has been overlooked...there is simply too much government in our lives today. Both major parties are responsible for this, and since it's unlikely an organized third party can get elected, Trump was seen as the best alternative to send a message to Washington (and to State and local governments as well).
Robert
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 10:51am
I also think what we observed was a push back against globalization and the continued diversity of our nation and its culture. While it may have been a push back, both of those forces will continue to march forward. We will continue to live in an increasingly global economy. The autoworker in Toledo must compete with the autoworker in Mexico City of South Korea. No going back on that. Also, our citizens will increasingly be less white and less northern European. That's just the way it is.
Jay
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 11:28am
Robert - you make a good point about globalization, however, there are other forces at work, such as cheaper labor in other countries and jobs being taken away from American workers. American jobs may not be able to compete with cheaper labor in other countries, but other ways to compete have to be found, such as making better quality products with better support and customer service. People complain that big box stores are the reason for the closure of mom and pop store businesses, but those same people shop at the big box stores because they offer cheaper prices. Save Big Money wins out over supporting your local small businesses. It's that kind of mentality that clouds the reasoning behind the loss of American jobs.
Nora
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 11:17am
Hi Phil: I am a Trump supporter. The reason why is simple, really. I couldn't vote for another homogenized democrat. Clinton always went with however the wind blew, from day one. Spoke out of both sides of her mouth. Did all the "right" things, posing with children and vets and promising us the world. Trump is among other things, a real person. He showed us that side of him, while even when Hillary was ill, there was no "real" Hillary. Her biggest plus was that she was a woman. I am not voting for someone just because they are a woman. That was it-her whole reasoning - oh and she would do everything the same. People vote for real people. Trump promised change, while Hillary promised us more of the same old same. People want change, and they will become vigilantes if that is necessary. I am glad Trump is president, because to have Hillary in the White House would not have united our country at all. To blame all the violence on Trump is not fair-people have been angry and violent for years and it has escalated in the last few years. They use all kinds of reasons for their violence. People are using the election as a catalyst for their inner anger. There was no choice when it came down to it - I waited for a real candidate to come along for months, but no leader took up the gauntlet. I looked down at the ballot and realized who I was voting for - and I think if people really were honest, there probably was a lot of us who looked down at the two names and realized that there was really no choice but crazy change or more government homogenized crap. In the end, most people are for less government and so that is what it came down to. To vote for Hillary meant more government restrictions, more canned decision-making - Trump promised change - hold on to your seat kind of change. He will surround himself with smart people. He raised a family, raised a business, and created a future for his family and business, hopefully that can translate to America. I am not a brilliant person, but when I looked at his family and business, I found someone who had some value in America. He has children and he wants to leave a great future to them. I am a deplorable, Hillary!
Shoegaze
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 12:29am
He has three families. He was spoon-fed money from birth. His businesses failed. Good luck on living with fewer government "restrictions," especially those that try to ensure you and your loved ones don't die of food poisoning or drug contamination. Oh, and I assume you're white. Heil Trump and all that.
Don
Sun, 12/04/2016 - 6:22pm
I agree with you Nora, Trump will bring change, however not a positive change. He has brought forward two truths (probably his only truths). He has brought to the surface that HATE is the Republican party and the fact that the Republican relig0us right is mostly talk with little substance (living and practicing their so called religion). Your also right about the smart people he will put into his Cabinet ( Hate filled demogouges). Heaven help us.
Le Roy G. Barnett
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 11:28am
While many things motivated voters in this recent election, I believe in time the dominant factor will come to be seen as conservative religion. Trump was the candidate for those who oppose gay marriage, transgenders in the "wrong" bathrooms, freedom of choice with respect to abortion, government money to Planned Parenthood, "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas," the requirements of businesses to serve those with perceived objectionable lifestyles, rules against creches on public property, an increasingly secular society, a non-Christian nation, etc.
Jim Rowlett
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:05pm
Phil - A number of years ago, when you launched Center for Michigan, you roamed the State with the message: Drop the political labels, define the issues and Michigan problems and work together to solve our most difficult challenges. In may respects that is what Trump has promised to do in our country. Meanwhile, you now come across, to me at least, as having turned Left. Take a look at your early Center posture.
Peter
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:11pm
Liked it until the last thought: "The worst curse you can place on an opponent is, “May you win an overwhelming majority in the election.” Overwhelming victories very often end up with overreaching and voter backlash. Whether it was Democrat Lyndon Johnson in 1964 or Republican Richard Nixon in 1972, both landslide victories ended in catastrophe for the victor." I disagree. You stopped too soon chronologically. Reagan won in two landslides in the 1980s, and the effects of those elections paved the way for the Gingrich/conservative takeover of the GOP, the cementing of the South and Texas within the GOP, the Tea Party, and finally, Trump's election. Liberals and progressives have made progress on some social issues since the Reagan victories, but in environmental issues, foreign policy, fiscal issues, the decline of unions, privatization of public services and the social safety net, it has all gone Reagan's way.
Gene Markel
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 1:56pm
“We may please ourselves with the prospect of free and popular governments. But there is great danger that those governments will not make us happy. Grant that they may. But I fear that in every assembly, members will obtain an influence by noise, not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls.” John Adams President 1797 - 1801 It is my belief that: Government cannot exist without taxes. Government cannot exist without civility. Government cannot exist without the vote. Government cannot exist without involved citizens. Government cannot exist without an educated populace. Government cannot exist without equal treatment under the law. Government cannot exist without compromise for the common good.
John Q. Public
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 6:56pm
Trump's election is may be the first visible sign that the Saxons have awakened.
John Q. Public
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 8:43pm
I think Donald Trump looked to Rudyard Kipling for political inspiration. To wit: Norman and Saxon A.D. 11.00 "My son," said the Norman Baron, "I am dying, and you will be heir To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is. But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:– "The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite. But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right. When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own, And grumbles, 'This isn't fair dealing,' my son, leave the Saxon alone. "You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears; But don't try that game on the Saxon; you'll have the whole brood round your ears. From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field, They'll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield. "But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs and songs. Don't trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale of their wrongs. Let them know that you know what they're saying; let them feel that you know what to say. Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear 'em out if it takes you all day. They'll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark. It's the sport not the rabbits they're after (we've plenty of game in the park). Don't hang them or cut off their fingers. That's wasteful as well as unkind, For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man- at-arms you can find. "Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts. Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests. Say 'we,' 'us' and 'ours' when you're talking, instead of 'you fellows' and 'I.' Don't ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell 'em a lie!"
Tue, 11/15/2016 - 8:45pm
Co2 has not been scientifically proven to cause global warming. It has not been subjected to rigorous scientific method. Trade agreements need to be negotiated in the interest of US citizens. Clinton campaign was the one that sewed this idea. Trump employs many women and minorities. Immigration should be legal and met the law. Keynesian economics work does short term. Actually, it is a method to deceive people into thinking things are better than they are. State and Federal government have grown too large and need to return many function to the locals.
Cathie Schau
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 12:35am
Uh, have you looked at how many women and minorities are on his list for major cabinet positions? Let me,almost none?
Cathie
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 7:34am
Like, almost none
Cathie
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 7:36am
Auto correct issues. That second line should read: Almost none."
duane
Wed, 11/16/2016 - 12:24am
Let me offer a slightly different perspective on each of the points. Why would anyone be surprised about the election, it seems the emotions/frustrations have been building for decades, we first heard it over forty years ago [‘silent majority’], again nearly 20 years ago [‘Tea Party’] and this week we heard it again from the ‘movement’? Climate Change: Science is based in skepticism and yet we hear how those who raise questions are bullied. Reality is that ‘climate change’ is used to justify more government controls. Why should people believe that ‘climate change’ is real if it is only used for political leverage? International trade: the US is built on the rule of law and Washington says trade is based on international agreements [law]. We hear how the US conforms to agreements and how others violate them. Should we be surprised when people, that don’t trust China or Russia, that hear of the governmental corruption in Mexico/Brazil/countries of the mid-East, see how even countries in Europe are not welcoming to US business as we are to theirs, lose trust in International Trade agreements? Human Rights: we see regularly atrocities committed on those you mention, on Christians/Jews/Muslims. Why should we be surprised when people, accused of human rights violation for how they speak and thus tarred with those the same brush as those who are chopping off heads, mutilating and murdering women and children and others, are willing to vote for someone who stands up, is accountable for what he says, and is not be intimidated by the PC police? Reproductive Rights: before I first held our newborn daughters, before I could feel them growing in my wife I saw them as defenseless persons. I was taught to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. For our lifetimes we have been taught about prenatal care to give a child the best chance of living, we see heroic lengths doctors, nurses, parents, and strangers will go to save an unborn child, we are asked to contribute to programs that support these efforts. And yet we are told that it is a right for a ‘mother’ to terminate an unborn child even if they are viable and it is the moment of birth for no other reason than she wants to. Why should anyone be surprised that there are people, who are so emotionally invested in saving an unborn child resistant to seeing all that effort tossed aside at the last moment, will vote for someone who feels as they? Immigration: are we a nation of immigrants? I only know America as my home so when do I become a citizen, when does my sacrifices for this country count, when does what I have contributed matter? We are a nation built on the rule of law and there are laws for immigrating to America. Why should anyone be surprised when people vote for those immigrants that obeyed the laws to come to our land and reject blindly accepting those who break the laws to enter this country? Government: Keynes saw government spending as a tool to use in the depths of a county’s economic crisis; our government sees Keynesian economics as a means to provide better results for individuals in good time and bad regardless of what it costs others. Why should we be surprised that people, that make sacrifices, such as earning an education, working longer and harder hours, or doing without to provide for their families, are willing to risk the unknown for change? By simplifying those two factors ignores how a generation of frustration crystallized in the two candidates. What is seen as one person’s inability to change and adapt, to those who weren’t expected to rise up and vote saw it as the embodiment of a government, an elite that saw themselves above the rules, above the lives, the judgement, and the sacrifices of those being governed. Seeing only a ‘brilliant’ slogan, misses seeing that it wasn’t a brilliant slogan until people began to see the speaker of that slogan willingness to suffer the consequences, such as the verbal attacks, to make it happen. Over simplifying is why so many ignored all the warning signs of what happened. If it must be made simple, it was between one who was looking forward for success and one who was looking backward to justify the way things are and will be. The margin of victory wasn't so large, but the emotions of losing seems to be overwhelming [we see it in the streets, on the campuses, in media]. I always wonder what the losing side would have use to measure their success in office and if they would let the public use them to measure the winner performance.
Kevin Grand
Wed, 11/16/2016 - 9:17am
Excellent post.
duane
Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:21am
Kevin, Thanks for reading what I offered. What disappoints me is that those who have a different perspective, for whatever reason, failed to offer their views on any of the points. That seems indicative of the election, those who wanted change are willing to offer their views for discussion and those who want the status quo don't seem willing to make a case for their point of view. They seem do afraid of change that they won't risk a give and take on these topics.
Shoegaze
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 12:45am
Really? All kinds of info out there, duane, on the positions of those who oppose Trump and his KKK-endorsed, misogynistic, ego-driven agenda. If you step outside the bubble, that is. Pro tip: Fox News ain't "news."
duane
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 7:00pm
Shoegaze, Do you realize that when you invoked the KKK you undermined what you say? The KKK hasn’t been credible since Strom Thurmond was trying to stop the Civil Rights act of 1964 [I doubt you would blame today’s Democrats for his action back then, he was the longest sitting Democrat US Senator]. If you have noticed that the only time we hear about the KKK is each election when the media is concerned about a Republican candidate. They use the KKK much like my Grand Parents used the ‘boogeyman’ to scare my Aunts and Uncles to behave when they were children. I would say that type of scare tactics hasn’t worked for nearly 100 years and yet I guess some people still believe in the ‘boogeyman’/KKK. As best I can tell anyone that runs for the Presidency has to have a large and strong ego, otherwise how could they survive the verbal assaults they will experience. Whether it is FOX or MSNBC or CNN or the major network News or even CNBC they are all predominated by full time political pundits or pundit want-a-bees. Though there are some on FOX that I do see as quality reporters, Chris Wallace [I put him first since he maybe be someone you have seen], Cathrine Herridge, Brean, Griffin. I watch them because there is news and it is always good to hear different perspectives. I even listen Rush Limbaugh periodically. You may use a different definition of misogynist than I do, Webster: a hatred of woman. What actions have you seen that showed you he hates women or is it just that you heard it on the ‘News? He has made rude and crude remarks about individuals, but so have many others. I have even seen men trying to recover from very stressful experiences vilified, called liars and worse to their face, and yet I did not call those hurling the verbally assaults haters. Maybe our difference is in how we describe those we don’t vote for.
Robyn Tonkin
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 10:09am
Hello Duane: I have read two one word definitions of science in this discussion, one is the word "consensus" and one is the word "skepticism" (the word you used). First of all as a person university trained in a scientific discipline (forestry) and a person whose passion and avocation since childhood has been ecology, I would never define science with one word. I would not be able to find one to use. To me, science first is recognition of a relationship or an event or a change that warrants investigation. Thereafter, science is the application of rigorous research and deductive reasoning to arrive at hypotheses for what is being tested that stand the test of reasonableness and independent investigation, by many, and thereby attains the rank of supportable theory. Since I live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the change I am most interested in is that the loss of arctic sea ice leads to disturbance of the Atlantic Oscillation, and which results in previously unknown and persistent effect on jet stream patterns and thereby seasonal duration, precipitation, storm events, etc. I think the words "consensus" and "skepticism" as defining what science is comes from viewing public squabbling among persons who wish to make a name for themselves using a current news topic, in this case, the effects of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I never use the words "global warming" or "climate change" unless I am speaking to someone who believes as I do that it is happening, and thus I feel free to use shorthand phrases. To anyone else, I use the phrase "increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" in order to make clear the issue at hand--what is being investigated. Choose a type of change that has data, such as perturbations to the Atlantic Oscillation, rising sea levels or rising sea surface temperatures, then read the data that suggest how these changes, many quite abrupt from the last thirty years to the current time (one way to veiw change is to examine thirty years of data) may be affecting frequency, duration and intensity of events such as rainfall events, onset of seasonal change, mammalian migration and insect population crash. Something that is not a theory, and if you are not a science oriented person, that you should accept, is the joints of the universe are very tight. Changes that seem tiny to you (a one degree celsius change in mean annual night time temperature, for instance) has huge effect on the natural world, because such a change flows through a natural world that is completely interdependent and interwoven, and these intersections are time dependent, due to seaonality. For instance, a change in when a plant flowers and produces seed creates a loss of critical diet for a mammal or insect that is completely dependent on finding that food at that precise time in the growing cycle, because it has been there since the last ice age. My fear with the change in administration is not that climate change preparation is going to cease (the DOD is NOT going to stop hardening the naval installations at Hampton Roads against climate change, since tidal flooding is already a severe problem). I worry that governmental investigation between agencies will be choked off. Several agencies, with NOAA, are working together on very intricate investigations to change our very concept of what uncertainty means to climate prediction. If things have changed, then what we regard as certain and uncertain, and the degrees of uncertainty, have changed as well, and we need to identify and define the new parameters. I always like your comments, you think so much about everything--no kicky little catch phrases, just deductive reasoning coupled with personal conviction. It is so interesting to read the comments of someone who cares deeply about the world around him and the problems and questions it contains. I would leave you with a last thought. I'm not very emotional. My emotions about the natural world center on how breathtakingly complex and extraordinary it is. I am not religious in any way, at all, so I see it as a wonderful result of inexorable forces acting upon living creatures and their inanimate dwelling place, slowly, minutely, over almost incomprehensible stretches of time. I am an individually unimportant organism who inhabits a tiny corner of one place, one of billions upon billions of organisms that inhabit the planet. I am one, but one of a specie has had the unique ability to cause incredible change and damage to the natural world it inhabits. Since that is how I view myself and my kind, you will understand why I am supportive of abortion. We view ourselves and everything about ourselves as far too important, in the scheme of things. Our children are profoundly important once here, but they are not the only important organisms on this planet, and there are more than enough of us already.
duane
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 10:23pm
Robyn, Thank you for taking the time to read and finding my comments something to consider. I write them to practice articulating my thoughts and to hear other perspectives. I appreciate your thoughtfulness each of the items you mention and would surely like to talk with you about individually, I would like to hear your perspective because I expect it would make me think a bit differently. I agree about the catch phrases or other shorthand used to turn a complex issue into emotions. When such phrases are used it shifts conversations from talking to each other to talking past each other. Such abbreviated phrases force people to assume and that ensure misunderstandings. I do succumb to their use when involved in a political discussion because that is what it is when those catch phrases are invoked. I do recognize that atmospheric, even surface temperatures, are rising but I am not clear on the cause [CO2 does not address convection and conduction, CO2 seems to have followed earlier warming up and trailed them down]. Since earth has been through such changes in the past should be so self-assured that we can control them. As for the impact, I can see how smaller ice field could create more dilution of the salts in the ocean thus the density of the water in the Gulf-stream and that could change the weather in northern Europe more than the atmospheric temperature impact. I do wonder about so much of the scientific politics of the issue is based on dynamic models [I wonder if or how they have validated such models]. What I don’t accept is the self-assured pronouncements that make no effort to consider the consequences of the actions being forced on others. Has anyone asked what if they are wrong and how much harm would that have created? Have they asked what if change happens even to the degree claimed [claims we have heard before that did not materialize] and could we adapt more effectively that we could have by trying to stop [if CO2 has crossed the tipping point]? It appears the ‘consensus’ cause is CO2, what if there is a different a different cause and ‘consensus’ has so intimidate others that they aren’t even looking? You may not remember when dioxins was a significant issue, and the ‘consensus’ was that it could only be man-made, to the point that anyone who challenged that had their ethics questioned and yet today it is accepted that it is a byproduct of fire when form the backyard barbecue to the forest fire to the car exhausts. I believe the less densely populated and the more weather extremes a location has the more apparent the symptoms of weather changes will be. Growing up in south east Michigan it was common for periods of around 20 below, since the early 1980s I think that would be the exception. I am religious and would be comfortable having that conversation, and maybe that is why albeit we individually are fine bits in cosmos individually and in our sphere of influence we can be significant. So our impact to ourselves can seem greater than how in really fits the larger setting. That is why I want there to be a higher threshold to cross when committing an abortion. Just as with my concern with the lack of consideration of unintended consequences of the actions be promoted in the name of ‘climate change’ so am I concerned with the seeming lack of consideration of unintended consequences of abortion and especially late term abortions. Human kind seems to be different from other organisms in how they can be creating, conceptual, and make moral/ethical choices. I feel that difference is something we should include in the actions we take along with consideration for unintended consequences. Thank you for you note, you have made me pause to think and think again as I try to articulate my thoughts. I do like science for what we know and what we don’t know and for how people have changed the whole of prevailing theory by challenging it. I learned that scientist were trying to prove Einstein wrong when they proved what he expected did happen and yet today scientists are showing his theories were not sufficient to explain it all. I hope you will share more of your perspective. The greater diversity of perspectives the more we think and learn.
Matt
Thu, 11/17/2016 - 7:41am
Always ask the questions when facing any problem: Is your "cure" really a cure? What is the cost of the "cure"? Is it really worth the cost? What are the possible unintended consequences? And always remember you might likely be wrong, what then? In today's politics these are never considered or deliberately distorted.
JohnS
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 6:40am
Us against Them. We must compromise and work together, all of us.
duane
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 10:33pm
Johns, We need to identify the results we want/need and then work on developing the most effective way to achieve them. I believe in the competition of ideas and pushing and shoving those ideas into a solution that will work. Working together may happen, but it is not the purpose. The desired results are the purpose and I only want those committed to those results participating. Too often people give lip service to cooperation and that undermines results. As an example, we hear CO2 levels are too high so we are told to stop whatever is creating CO2. I would change that to how can we lower the CO2, and that mean that extracting it from the air is less harmful than stopping the production. How many years have been waste by having such a narrow focus.
Nick Tonkin
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 1:24pm
Phil, I'm a little confused by your last sentence as it relates to the article. Exactly what lessons from history should we keep firmly in mind? Is it because Trump did not win in a landslide, his presidency is unlikely to end in catastrophe?
ArtZ
Sun, 11/20/2016 - 1:57pm
Phil both candidates flawed. Our vote was against Clinton and President Obama. We are rapidly be faced a government moving decisions must acceptable a majority of minority to limit the majority. The media, unions, progressives, educators and wealthy believe the ends justify means.