Year 4, Month 9, Day 4: Unlike The Rest Of You Squares

Gina McCarthy went to Alaska, and the Anchorage Daily News was on the case:

“The climate is changing and we need to adapt to that change and make sure communities are prepared,” she said.

A trip to Iowa two weeks ago highlighted the issues, she said.

“There was no question in discussions with both farmers and ranchers the climate change impacts we’re seeing right now are severe,” she said. “We’re having drought and floods in the same state at the same time.”

McCarthy’s path to the EPA’s top job was rocky. Senate Republicans held up her nomination for more than four months before she was confirmed July 18. They used Obama’s choice of McCarthy to highlight complaints about the agency’s environmental regulations and the president’s agenda. McCarthy was previously head of the EPA’s air pollution office.

Alaska’s senators were divided over her confirmation. Democratic Sen. Mark Begich voted for McCarthy, while Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski opposed her, although she did not support a filibuster attempt. Murkowski, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate energy committee, did not return a message Monday about the new EPA leader.

“Sen. Murkowski agrees that climate change should be addressed, but remains concerned about the administration circumventing Congress to impose costly and unpopular regulations,” her spokesman, Robert Dillon, said in an email.

Sigh. August 31:

So Senator Lisa Murkowski thinks “climate change should be addressed,” but is unhappy that President Obama is “circumventing Congress to impose costly and unpopular regulations.” In other words, she’d be happy to confront a profound threat to our civilization, as long as she’s not actually required to do anything. That’s an easy game, but a deeply cynical one. If Sen. Murkowski isn’t just mouthing platitudes, perhaps she could work to persuade her colleagues in the halls of government to stop denying basic science in the service of short-term political gamesmanship.

Here’s a tip for the Senator and her colleagues in the GOP: failure to move strongly and swiftly on the climate crisis is going to bring results more costly and unpopular than anything you’ve ever imagined. The costs of inaction on this civilizational threat are conservatively reckoned in the trillions; the health of the entire planet is at stake.

Perhaps House and Senate Republicans think Earth should just go to the Emergency Room.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 8, Day 9: Just One Small Burp.

The Wall Street Journal notes Gina McCarthy’s confirmation, and includes some words from Yertle the Turtle:

Ms. McCarthy is generally well-respected by both environmental groups and industry leaders. Several senators, however, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) faulted Ms. McCarthy for her role in crafting greenhouse-gas standards. Ms. McCarthy has led the EPA’s clean-air office since 2009.

“I don’t blame Ms. McCarthy personally for all of the administration’s policies,” Mr. McConnell said Thursday. “But I believe the EPA needs an administrator who is ready to step up and challenge the idea that the livelihoods of particular groups of Americans can simply be sacrificed in pursuit of some Ivory Tower fantasy.”

Hey, Mitch? Fuck you. July 20:

When Mitch McConnell describes the science of climate change as an “ivory-tower fantasy,” he’s tapping into a long tradition of Republican anti-intellectualism, an epistemological faux populism that had its first contemporary triumph during the administration of President Truman. Those with long memories may recall the purge of “old China hands” from the State Department on suspicions of communist sympathies — a decimation of expertise that laid the groundwork for the USA’s most spectacular foreign policy debacle, our ignorance-propelled misadventure in Vietnam.

History offers plenty of examples of the GOP’s hostility to expertise, but the one which will have the profoundest consequences is undoubtedly the stubborn refusal of Republican lawmakers to recognize the validity of scientific findings on the climate crisis. Long after Vietnam and Iraq have been forgotten, our descendants will still be grappling with the appalling consequences of our refusal to act on a genuinely clear and present danger.

Warren Senders