“If climate change isn’t real, I’ll give you my Beretta”

A veteran hunter has challenged skeptics with a bet in the sportsmen’s journal Field & Stream:

“If you can convince Conservation Hawks chairman Todd Tanner that he’s wasting his time, that he does not have to worry about climate change, he will present to you his most prized possession:   A Beretta Silver Pigeon 12 gauge over/under that was a gift from his wife, and has been a faithful companion on many a Montana bird hunt.

I know the gun, and I’ve hunted and fished with Todd for years.  He’s not kidding.  You convince him, he’ll give you the gun.”   (Hal Herring, 2/15/12)

Todd Tanner is chairman of  Conservation Hawks,*  whose website begins:


Who are we?   We’re a group of passionate hunters & anglers devoted to protecting our sporting heritage and passing on a healthy natural world to our kids and grandkids.

What makes us different? We focus on the most important issues for sportsmen.  That’s why we’re leading the fight against the biggest threat we’ve ever faced – CLIMATE CHANGE. “

In the Field and Stream interview, Todd explains his personal motivation.

“I  want that freedom we’ve enjoyed to fish and hunt to continue.   Maybe most important, I have a son.    I cannot be complicit in surrendering all this that I’ve had and loved for my whole life—just say, sorry, I gave up and let it be taken from him.”

“That is how I see climate change.     It’s real, it’s threatening everything we love.   Not taking action is not an option. “

Conservation Hawks is part of an encouraging trend of more diverse voices speaking up for climate protection.   It’s simply too important to leave it to scientists and environmentalists alone to defend the science against the contrarians, anti-government ideologues, and fossil fuel industries.

As  George Marshall, director of the Climate Outreach and Information Network noted at the  recent CMB conference on climate communication, “major constituencies have been absent from the climate change discussion,” and should be brought in.

That’s exactly what Todd Tanner is doing.     Like many of us, he’d love to be proven wrong about climate:

Come to our Rod & Gun Club blog and convince me that I’m wrong about climate change.   Explain why I’m mistaken.   Take the weight from my shoulders and help me to go back to the things I love, rather than feeling like I have to push this huge boulder up a never-ending hill.    I’ll thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And somebody convinces him that climate change is not a serious problem, and he loses the bet?

“They get my Berretta.    And I’ll be certainly be happier. I’ll spend more time fishing and hunting with my son and a lot less time worrying about this.”

[Author’s note:    I resonate with Tanner’s call, having grown up in Minnesota,  fishing almost every day, all summer.   A few times, I got a shot at bigger game.     (author on right, 12/21/61 with 9’9″, 139 lb. sailfish,  Acapulco, Mexico).   But nothing compares to seeing a small child’s face light up when they catch their first sunfish.]


*  A shout-out to sharp-eyed Larry Lazar for alerting us to Conservation Hawks!


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