The personal is political and in-laws exacerbate that fact exponentially

Here’s an example, my father-in-law has been visiting our home for Christmas day dinner for several years now. He’s a second generation dairy farmer and a conservative republican. (I think a lot of farmers are conservative republicans, and I sometimes wonder what they’re all afraid of?) He’s also a very wise man and knows a lot more about what’s goin on than you’d think. The problem this time is his refusal to accept the occurrence of climate change or global warming. With so many environmental signs pointing to the existence of this condition, I find it hard to believe that a man with his intelligence would dismiss it as a money-making scam invented by liberals. He’s the type that might call anyone with differing political views a Marxist and/or Communist.

And from what I’ve been told, it’s best that I not say anything to dispute his authority, even when the discussion is taking place here in my own house. Such was the case Christmas day, when the subject of environmental problems came up. I had mentioned hearing about the Mexican dairy industry and the problems they were having with excessive amounts of manure, I heard it on NPR one morning on the way to work. (My father-in-law mumbled a rude three-word  epithet beginning with each letter of “NPR” but I’ll not repeat it.)

Farming, when it’s mainly crops you’re talking about, can be thought of as large scale gardening. So this is how I try to relate to my father-in-law when we’re conversing about farming or gardening. I suppose dairy farming is completely unrelated to gardening and/or global warming?  It’s just that whenever I talk about gardening, I often mention something about the environment.  Regarding climate change – either the environmental scientists are lying to us, or my father-in-law is God and answers to no one!


By TC Conner

Pro hobbyist photographer, drone enthusiast, musician, husband and father.

21 replies on “The personal is political and in-laws exacerbate that fact exponentially”

Did I take a stance on the nonexistence of global warming? Nope. Am I flawed? Yep. And so are the theory of an anthropogenic origin of global warming and the use of social engineering to “correct” the problem. Malthusian rhetoric has taken hold of another generation under a new guise. People–at least ordinary, flawed ones–are expendable, I guess. Sorry. I could go on and on. I’ll shut up for now.

“an anthropogenic origin of global warming…”

Did I say that?

“the use of social engineering to ‘correct’ the problem…”

Or that?

Is it inevitable that disaster will strike unless we do something? I can’t predict the future. And my/our generation hasn’t enough time left to see whether or not population explosion will usher in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” But I think Thomas Robert hit on some good points regarding Earth’s ability to provide subsistence for an ever increasing number of its inhabitants.

One more thing, my reasoning isn’t flawless either. But we could ask the Pope, he’s infallible, right?

Instead of mowing our lawns and whacking our weeds, let’s all get some goats and chickens. No, they produce too much methane. Aargh! Let’s all move to the city where there are no lawns. Seriously, greenhouse gases have an impact on the atmosphere and possibly even on the climate. Current volcanic action alone, terrestrial and pelagic, probably accounts for more greenhouse gases and oceanic warming than all the humans have produced since they first started making fires or domesticating animals or eating beans until the present time. You know what? I think someone needs to invent a huge vacuum cleaner like the one in Spaceballs because global warming really sucks! Maybe I can get a government grant to research the feasibility. ;>}

Methane, ha! If I ever mentioned the amount produced by belching cows to my father-in-law he’d probably come after me with a sling blade! (According to the Worldwatch Institute, about 15 to 20 percent of global methane emissions come from livestock.)

And remember, I said I wasn’t denying the impact of natural occurrences like volcanoes. Using things we can’t control in defense of your stance on the non-existence of global warming is, in my opinion, flawed.

(And I too enjoy these exchanges.)

I should have said protecting the environment and trying to control the climate are two different ideas. One is doable and necessary, worth the considerable effort and expense of setting and achieving realistic goals. The other one is Hollywood fiction and D.C. politics, which often go hand in hand.

If I gave you the impression that I believe we can “control the climate” it was not my intention. I see your distinction between environment and climate but both are part of the whole. What we do, or attempt to do (or not do) to one, has an effect on the other. I’m no scientist, but I would think my view is legitimate. I’ve never been one to believe man/woman can control much of anything, much less something as complicated and heavenly as the earth’s climate. If we lessen our use of say, gas-powered mowers and/or weedeaters, isn’t that cutting down on CO2 emissions which hurts both climate and environment? If I’m confused or misinformed about the harmful effects of CO2 on the environment, please help me understand otherwise.

Environment and climate change are two different things. I agree that we all need to be careful about how much we consume and work to protect the environment. It’s the way I was brought up, and I’ve taught my kids that way. Climate change is way more complicated than calculating and forecasting CO2 production and involves natural mechanisms that scientists are just beginning to understand. Know what we’re doing? Hmm. I don’t let the negative outweigh the positive. I try to maintain a balance and keep a level-headed outlook on life and the future. Thanks for the link on eugenics. I had no idea you were interested in it, TC. As for the carbon credit program, it’s how all of the grandiose plans for “controlling” climate change will be funded. By the way, I do enjoy these discussions.

I concur that “Climate change is way more complicated than calculating and forecasting CO2 production and involves natural mechanisms that scientists are just beginning to understand.”

To even begin to explain the science behind meteorology is something I would never attempt. Isn’t it much easier though, to understand, and accept as fact, that emissions from auto exhaust and factories, and some agricultural practices, urban sprawl, population increase, all of these things and more, lead to climate change?

And I’m not denying the natural progression of things either. But I must defend my believe that unless we change our way of doing things, harmful things will happen to Earth, and its atmosphere. Harmful things that we as humans CAN prevent from happening. Or if not prevent, lessen the impact.

Just think, TC, one of these days you’ll be the patriarch of the family, and woe to the one who defies your final word! It’s probably not the issue of climate change that bothers your father but the fact that it has become a politically convenient lever to pull people apart in this country. I haven’t seen so much divisiveness since the civil rights days. The big and awful difference here is that there are people making beaucoup bucks (taxpayers’ money) from creating and maintaining a firestorm about something that we humans cannot alter much if at all. Civil rights was an issue worth fighting for. The silly notion that trading carbon credits will turn things around in the climate will only further impoverish this country and enrich “developing” countries like China and Brazil. Puhleez! I don’t watch Fox news, by the way. I do read the Washington Post and try to weigh the information from both sides of the fence. Now. Thank you for showing respect to the ones who don’t agree with the popular theory du jour. Ever hear of eugenics? It was a popular theory too, supported and encouraged by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Alexander Graham Bell, H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Luther Burbank… Its critics were called reactionary, ignorant, blind, you name it. Your father-in-law’s uneasiness about this new social movement masquerading as science can probably be explained by the fact that his generation had to mop up the mess eugenics caused in the shape of the Third Reich and its policies. If eugenics had been allowed to continue its course, the Civil Rights Movement would never have been conceived or born.

Oh, I don’t think there will be any “woe to the one who defies” my final word Ms. I. But they may get an earful of the possible consequences of their choice to ignore what I have to say.

Your view that we can’t do much about climate change is a tad unnerving. I’m one who believes that individual actions such as reducing consumption of non-renewable resources, can be an effective and long-lasting benefit to the environment. Are there folks out there with other than noble intentions? Sure, but I don’t let the negative outweigh the positive. My father-in-law never has anything positive to say about liberalism. Change is good, if we know what we’re doing, yes?

I’m still unsure about the carbon credit program, I don’t really know if that addresses the problem of who’s doing all the carbon spewing.

And this from Future Generations (

“If the truth about genetics and behavior, about eugenics, or about race, is considered ‘taboo,’ and falsehoods are the only socially acceptable opinions, then this is truly a sad state of affairs.”

Hi Ms. Lola, it goes from being submissive and keeping quiet to wanting to shout as loud as you can. But who was it that said, “Blessed are the peacekeepers…?”

Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Ms. Dena and thanks for commenting. I think Ms. Frances said it best when she mentioned how important it is to keep the peace. But for someone like me (and if you’re a writer you’re most likely that way too, at least a little) who likes to have energetic and mutually rewarding debates, allowing the other party to bully their way on top is hard to take. (I wonder what his words to me would be if he read this blog post and these comments, he has access to a computer and the Web.)

Hi TC, I can hear the frustration in your voice about having to keep your tongue quiet while the patriarch spouts stuff you know is wrong. But feel good knowing you are doing the right, or write thing by doing so. Peace in the family is precious, and you won’t change his mind no matter what you say. Let it go. He watches Fox I would wager, they have brainwashed many in our area too. Best not to even open that pandora’s box. Time will tell the truth eventually. And you won’t have made enemies of family members. 🙂

Yes Ms. Frances, keeping the peace is worth the holes in my tongue. But swallowing humble pie for so many years has eaten away a large chunk of my liver! Another yes to Fox; most of my wife’s family watches that news network, including my wife most of the time.

My best friend, whom I consider family, is like this. Although it’s to a lesser degree, it has made for some interesting discussions between us. I know that there are extremists on both sides (namely my friend and my sister) and the earth does have natural cycles. It does, however, seem that both of us have our own interpretation of the true meaning of global warning. Is there a correct definition? Maybe we all need to listen to Mother Earth and hear what She has to say.

PS Remember what we talked about regarding building a following, so yes to social networking buttons.

The only interesting part about my father-in-law and me discussing things is the fact that I must allow him the final word, or else be ostracized. Humble pie has such a bitter taste!

And I’m still tryin to figure out the best way to get my social networking buttons on my blog. They’re over there in the right-hand column now but I don’t know if I like having them separate like that. I wish there was a way I could have them together in one little box.

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