Year 3, Month 9, Day 5: Water, Water Everywhere…

Boston Magazine asks, “Why Does The GOP Still Ignore Climate Change?”


With Hurricane Isaac hammering Louisiana with 80 mile-per-hour winds, you would think the Republican Party might pause to consider: “Hey, what’s with all this crazy weather?” New Orleans, after all, is just a short trip around the Gulf of Mexico from Tampa, where the GOP is holding their Republican National Convention. And it’s clear they’re aware that Isaac actually exists, since they shortened the convention from four days to three—not necessarily because Tampa was going to get hit, but just to avoid the “optics” of a big Republican party occurring while New Orleans floods. After all, George W. Bush didn’t avail himself too well during Katrina.

But instead of acknowledging the fact that climate change exists and is responsible for the increasing weather extremes—more hurricanes, more snowstorms, more tornadoes, more scorching-drought-filled summers—the Republicans continue to not just ignore climate change, but mock President Obama for being concerned about it. The only mention of climate change in the entire 2012 Republican Platform isn’t in the environmental/energy section, but in a critique of Obama’s national security strategy:

“The current Administration’s most recent National Security Strategy reflects the extreme elements in its liberal domestic coalition…the strategy subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy, and international health issues, and elevates “climate change” to the level of a “severe threat” equivalent to foreign aggression.”

Boston Magazine didn’t tell me a word limit, and this one took me just below 250. Sent August 30:

Explaining why Republicans ignore the facts of climate change is impossible without understanding that there are several separate types of Republicans, each with their own reasons for rejecting the conclusions of the world’s scientists. Let’s look at them each in turn.

First: the Theocrats. Christian fundamentalists almost exclusively, politicians from this group reject all science for ideological reasons (although they’re happy enough to fly in airplanes, receive state-of-the-art medical treatment, and use contemporary technology). Climatology is conflated with evolution as a “secular religion” and denounced on these grounds. And since many of these folk eagerly anticipate the Book of Revelations’ promised Armageddon, the thought of a secular end-of-the-world triggered by CO2 emissions is an affront. Think Michelle Bachmann.

Second: the Corporatists. Owing allegiance entirely to the quarterly report, these politicians receive staggering sums of fossil fuel money, and do their masters’ bidding — delaying and blocking any action towards addressing climate change, which would necessarily reduce the profitability of Big Oil and Big Coal. Think Paul Ryan.

Third: the Bullies. These guys would walk ten miles in pouring rain to punch a hippie. They’re just in it because…well, I can recognize sociopaths even if I don’t understand them, and they congregate in today’s GOP. Think Mitt Romney.

Of course, some inhabit two or even three of these categories, making them even more dangerous. Think James Inhofe.

Of course, today’s Republican party doesn’t do all that much thinking — even as the world around them keeps getting hotter.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 4, Day 20: He That Troubleth His Own House…

This is entirely expected — but it still sucks:

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today allowed a controversial bill allowing teachers to discuss the “weaknesses” of evolution and other scientific theories to become law without his signature.

It is the first time Haslam, a Republican, has refused to sign a bill passed by the GOP-led General Assembly.

The legislation has been derided by critics nationwide as a modern-day “monkey bill,” a reference to a 1920s Tennessee law that outlawed the teaching of evolution and spurred the arrest and trial of Dayton, Tenn., teacher John Scopes in the infamous 1925 “Monkey Trial.”

“I have reviewed the final language of HB 368/SB 893 and assessed the legislation’s impact,” Haslam said in a statement. “I have also evaluated the concerns that have been raised by the bill. I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers.

“However,” Haslam added, “I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.”

I wish they’d never been allowed to rejoin the Union. Sent April 11:

Although he’s allowing HB 368/SB 893 to become law without his signature, Governor Haslam cannot avoid soiling his fingers on a dirty piece of legislation. The bill’s language is entirely disingenuous. It is absolutely obvious that this is an attempt to undermine a genuine and robust scientific consensus under the guise of “discussing the weaknesses” in scientific opinion on evolution and climate change.

Will Tennessee’s teachers really explore the relationship between feedback and forcing in climate models — or will they promulgate attractive and convenient pseudo-facts (“carbon dioxide is our friend!”) offered by well-funded denialist groups? Will they explore the relationship between punctuated equilibrium and phyletic gradualism in our understanding of evolution — or will they offer attractive and convenient pseudo-facts from well-funded creationist groups?

When the world’s climate is perilously close to spinning entirely out of equilibrium, we can no longer afford the luxury of substituting ignorance for knowledge under the guise of “teaching the controversy.” This will not end well — for Tennessee, for America, or for the world.

Warren Senders