You wouldn’t expect to find many folks out there who would deny that electricity exists, or that the earth revolves around the sun. We buy into these truths for two reasons: First, they can be observed, and second, people much smarter than us have told us so.
This, in a nutshell, is why it’s so perplexing that climate change has become a partisan issue. Congress is divided almost perfectly along party lines, with Democrats screaming into the void that the planet is dying around us, and the GOP burying their heads ever-deeper in the sand.
So let’s get down to brass tacks and have a good, long look at the GOP’s claims surrounding climate change, and why they’re so wrong to dismiss it.
What Do the GOP Frontrunners Think?
In the first couple of GOP presidential debates, the phrase “climate change” wasn’t uttered even once — either by the candidates or by the moderators. This was in stark contrast to the Democratic debates, during which Senator Bernie Sanders asserted that climate change represents the greatest threat to national security, outstripping Muslims, immigrants and refugees — three of the GOP’s current favorite boogeymen.
In recent weeks, though, the GOP candidates have grudgingly swung back around and began talking about climate change as a national issue — but their response has been precisely what you’d expect from the party of hysteria, selective outrage and willful ignorance.
“We’re not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government we’re under wants to do … every proposal they put forward are proposals that will make it harder to do business in America, that will make it harder to create jobs in America.”
You couldn’t have asked for a better summary of the GOP’s position — this is the same tired song they’ve sung about other attempts the government has made to force Corporate America to play by the rules, operate responsibly or treat their workers with respect.
And it’s a textbook case of a straw man argument. The GOP doesn’t want to deal with the reality of the situation, so instead they’ve concocted a different one: President Obama, and his cronies, want to watch this country, and its economy, burn to the ground.
And Rubio is hardly alone. Rand Paul, who’s no current frontrunner, but who once seemed the most electable occupant of the GOP’s clown car, has, in the last couple of weeks, emerged as a full-blown climate change denier.
Again, this is no surprise. As the son of Dr. Ron Paul and a standard-bearer for America’s libertarian movement, Rand Paul is, and always has been, one of the loudest voices in favor of “Capitalism at Any Cost.”
We Need to Be Listening to Scientists — Not Politicians
So. Why is the GOP wrong to ignore this problem? How much time do you have?
Science has done something it rarely does. It has provided us with a virtual consensus on the issue. According to NASA, about 97% of currently publishing climate scientists agree on two points:
- Climate change is real, and it is happening before our eyes.
- Climate change is made worse by human activity.
In these climate-change debates, you often hear “I’m not a scientist, but…” No, it’s true — very few of us are actually scientists. But very few of us are electricians, mechanics, pediatricians or plumbers, and yet we’ve all, more or less, gotten used to taking their word for things we know nothing about. To begin a sentence that way is to admit openly you’re either criminally ignorant or you have an agenda, and this planet can’t afford either any longer.
What About the Economy?
But the GOP is wrong on an entirely different level as well — namely, with the idea that responsibly addressing climate change would spell doom for America’s economy.
Let’s return to Marco Rubio’s assertion that environmentally-conscious regulations, such as the ones put forth by President Obama to curb emissions from coal plants, would cause electricity bills to rise, put people out of jobs and doom several otherwise healthy industries operating in America today.
The truth is, coal and other dirty fuels are already in danger of extinction, and it has nothing at all to do with the government’s “bullying” regulations. Coal is on its way out because it’s being threatened by economic competition from cheap natural gas. In other words, the Free Market — the thing the GOP spends so much of its time blindly defending — has already spoken, and it’s decided that coal is yesterday’s news.
This Planet Is Priceless
It seems odd that the party most closely associated with Christian theology is so quick to ignore this planet’s cries for help. If, indeed, the planet earth is a gift from On High, then why would any of us put a price tag on protecting it?
It’s true that addressing the problem is going to be a long, complicated and potentially painful process. But the sooner we stop giving these GOP charlatans the time of day, the sooner we can let the grown-ups get back to work on what really matters.
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