climate change

Opinion: Are you an environmentalist or a climate hawk?



Are you someone who priorities climate change above anything else? Then you might be a climate hawk. Photo credit: Bhupendra Singh via Pexels.

By Anders Lorenzen

Great journalism is meant to challenge our perceptions, stimulate debate, inspire ideas, come up with new ways of doing things. In today’s divisive and fake news and lazy copy- and- paste journalism it is easy to spot a great journalistic piece when you see one.

David Roberts is the energy and climate writer at He famously coined the term ‘climate hawk’ when he was working at Grist. He has done it again with this article – arguably coining arguments just as powerful or merely, perhaps, in addition to his ‘climate hawk’ terminology.

If you are not sure about what a ‘climate hawk’ actually means, then read the idea behind it above. But it is really simple – someone who cares about tackling climate change.

In the article, Roberts asks if you’re necessarily an environmentalist if you also identify yourself as a ‘climate hawk’? Not necessarily, but you can be – and those two terms can as a matter of fact conflict with each other. For instance, you might oppose clean energy technologies because you think they destroy the natural environment. Or you might oppose electric vehicles because of the minerals used, or because they might actually not be that efficient when it comes to reducing air pollution. This issue is that environmentalism and climate action are not always mutually inclusive. There’s nothing wrong with having these arguments, but at least call it what it is, Roberts argues. And I agree. We cannot normally assume that environmentalists first and foremost want to save the world from climate change, even if many do. But that is why it is so important to have one term that just addresses climate change.

Roberts is also right in his criticism of environmental groups like the Sierra Club. I would also add Greenpeace to that list – two organisations who say that tackling climate change is top priority. Those two groups are actually campaigning and focusing on closing down nuclear power plants – getting rid of clean energy capacity. This will result and has resulted, in more coal and gas getting burned and thus in carbon emissions rising. It is fine if, from an environmental point of view, you want to fight nuclear energy. But again, do not call yourself an organisation which views climate change as the biggest issue.

This is where it becomes complicated and often politicised. With terms like, being green, going green, green policies, sustainability, environmental policies – what do these labels mean? Does anyone know? I have to admit that even I get confused sometimes. Can a green policy have something to do with climate change? Yes. Could it also have absolutely nothing to do with climate change? Yes. So fundamentally we need to change the wording. If you call yourself an environmentalist, it could mean anything. But do you call yourself a ‘climate hawk’ – there can be no confusion, people know where you stand.

But it is important to know this. If you call yourself a ‘climate hawk’, you cannot oppose nuclear energy or any other developments that tackle climate change, such as big business investments in renewables, electric car fleets, and so on. This might be at odds with your political views. You might, for instance, hate capitalism or you might think many of these corporations are evil. But if these actions reduce emissions, this is a compromise you will have to make.

If you don’t want to go down this route that is fine. But while you can then say you care about tackling climate change, you can’t say it is the number one issue for you – clearly, other issues come before.

It is not easy being a ‘climate hawk’.

But fundamentally ‘climate hawks’ could unite across the political spectrum, be willing to put aside other issues from immigration to gun control, and unite in fighting what they agree is the biggest issue we face.

5 replies »

  1. RGHE theory exists only to explain why the earth is 33 C warmer with an atmosphere than without. Not so. The average global temperature of 288 K is a massive WAG at the ”surface.” The w/o temperature of 255 K is a theoretical S-B ideal BB OLR calculation at the top of – the atmosphere. An obviously flawed RGHE faux-thermodynamic “theory” pretends to explain a mechanism behind this non-existent phenomenon, the difference between two made up atmospheric numbers.

    But with such great personal, professional and capital investment in this failed premise, like the man with only a hammer, assorted climate “experts” pontificate that every extreme, newsworthy weather or biospheric flora or fauna variation just must be due to “climate change.”

    The Earth’s albedo/atmosphere doesn’t keep the Earth warm, it keeps the Earth cool. As albedo increases, heating and temperature decrease. As albedo decreases, heating and temperature increase.

    Over 9,300 views of my five WriterBeat papers and zero rebuttals. There was one lecture on water vapor, but that kind of misses the CO2 point.

    Step right up, bring science, I did.

    Nick Schroeder, BSME, PE (LinkedIn)—We-don-t-need-no-stinkin-greenhouse-Warning-science-ahead-


  2. The 396 W/m^2 upwelling and net 333 W/m^2 GHG energy loop as shown on the K-T power flux balance diagram (Figure 10 Trenberth et al 2011jcli24) is calculated using the S-B equation with an assumed emissivity of 1.0 and an average surface temperature of 16 C, 289 K. Because of the conductive/convective/advective/latent heat participating processes of the atmospheric molecules the actual and correct radiative emissivity is about 0.16, i.e. 63/396.

    This GHG energy loop is an inappropriate calculation with zero physical reality.

    Without this energy loop the radiative greenhouse effect theory fails.

    Without RGHE man-caused climate change does not exist.

    It’s called “science.”

    Don’t be frightened, spit out the Kool-Aid and give it a try.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s