Why do those who fear global warming live in the path of destruction?

Hurricane Sandy devastated thousands of global warming's true believers. How was this possible?

WASHINGTON, November 27, 2012 – Hurricane Sandy destroyed thousands of homes, businesses, and vehicles. How many of these belonged to people who believe in global warming?

When Hurricane Sandy joined up with a heavy nor’easter, the results were devastating. The question is, “Why was anybody there?”

It’s no secret that many of the people who live in the big population centers are the most ardent believers in global warming, that cataclysmic, man-made disaster that’s going to swamp our seacoasts and all of Florida. The danger is now; the danger is real; the evidence is incontrovertible.

We hear it all the time, so it must be true.

Many of the Al Gorebots, no doubt, live in the very regions where the effects of global warming will cause its greatest destruction. Few live where global warming will do the most good – in the vast stretches of soon-to-be  primo farmland in northern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta … and Siberia, to name a few regions.

They live in the crowded urban landscape of low-lying Middle Atlantic and New England states and the coastal cities along the Pacific and Gulf Coasts.

Global warming has been accepted as axiomatic by our intelligensia, and remains largely unrefuted in major media; scientists who oppose the theory are frozen out of the discussion and the rich grant pool, so it is no surprise that, according to a 2012 Yale/George Mason (Y/GM) University study, “42 percent of Americans think global warming is harming people in the United States now (30%) or will within the next 10 years (12%).”

Only 14 percent of Americans, the study says, don’t believe in climate change.

So, with all these true believers believing that we’re headed for a cataclysm (and soon, if we aren’t already there), WHAT ARE THEY DOING, LIVING IN THE PATH OF DESTRUCTION?

It’s possible that the people who hold the belief in our imminent destruction are over-represented in the media, and it’s possible they are over-sampled in the polls. It’s also possible that they say one thing, and actually believe another. Or it’s possible that they think it’s still worth it to live where they do, even though they’re certain to get clobbered by the weather that they, themselves predict. (Full disclosure: after experiencing three Florida hurricanes – Charley, Francis, and Jeanne – during six weeks in 2004, I resolved to move. A year and a half later, I was on my way to hurricane-proof Indiana. I didn’t care who was “causing” the hurricanes, or what I could do to prevent them; the hurricanes alone were convincing.)

And maybe it’s possible that they are just too set in their ways (too conservative?) to move out of the way of a tidal wave.

Maybe there’s some insight to be gained from the Y/GM finding that only 33 percent (12% greatly; 21% moderately) think that “global warming will harm [their own] family,” while 55 percent (26% note at all; 29% only a little) think it won’t. Still, extrapolating these data tell us that some 110 million Americans think Global Warming is a problem that will directly and negatively affect them. (The study didn’t ask Minnesotans if they thought they’d like to pick oranges from their own trees, and if that might be a good thing.)

But let’s go back to “why?” Why do people persist in an activity (living in the danger zone) when they know it’s bad for them? Americans are a strange lot, and perhaps genetically self-destructive. A 2005 National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study said that more than 20 percent of American adults smoke; and “In 2010, an estimated 22.6 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to the survey interview. This estimate represents 8.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older.” This, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). In the same survey, “Slightly more than half of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current drinkers of alcohol in the 2010 survey (51.8 percent).”

Having flood insurance is one thing; homes can be replaced. But why do Americans persist in self-destructive behavior, when they’re hurting?

Your comments, please; I plan a follow-up column!


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Tim Kern

Tim Kern taught economics for fifteen years, and discovered that understanding life is easy; it’s recognizing reality that takes practice. He holds a music degree, and later earned an MBA in finance from Northwestern University. He has lived across the US, and now makes his home in Anderson, Indiana.

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