Anti-science Republicans

Climate change denial has no scientific basis. The fact that greenhouse gases cause the planet to warm is well understood, and we have very good reasons to worry about the implications of that for humanity. And yet, in the richest and most advanced nation on Earth, one of the two dominant political parties has fielded candidates that overwhelmingly reject climate science. Of the 48 Senatorial candidates the Republican Party fielded for the mid-term elections, only one openly agreed that humans are causing the climate to change, and he lost to a Tea Party insurgent.

As George Monbiot points out, this is deeply troubling. We don’t have much time to start the global transition to carbon neutrality, and yet a strategy based around blatantly denying the truth continues to be successful in the United States.

Those pushing for effective action on climate change need to turn the tide somehow. Part of that will have to be debunking appealing but faulty arguments made by opponents of action, along with relentlessly making the case for why the mitigation of climate change is the right choice – both because of the risks it diminishes and because of the opportunities it provides.

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    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), once a champion of strong action to fight global warming pollution, has joined the rest of the Republican Senate caucus in questioning the overwhelming science. From 2003 to 2007, McCain pressed for Congress to pass comprehensive cap-and-trade legislation to ratchet down greenhouse gas pollution, because, he said, global warming is “such a threat to our planet and our future and our children.” Now, like every other GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate this year, he opposes the climate policy he once supported. In a little-noted appearance stumping for Senate candidate (and fellow denier) Kelly Ayotte in Nashua, N.H., this March, McCain gave credence to the outlandish Climategate smear campaign against climate science:

    “I think it’s an inexact science, and there has been more and more questioning about some of the conclusions that were reached concerning climate change. And I believe that everybody in the world deserves correct answers whether the scientific conclusions were flawed by outside influences. There’s great questions about it that need to be resolved”

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    “At a climate-change conference in South Carolina on January 5, 2010, [Senator Lindsay] Graham started to sound a little like Al Gore. “I have come to conclude that greenhouse gases and carbon pollution” are “not a good thing,” Graham said. He insisted that nobody could convince him that “all the cars and trucks and plants that have been in existence since the Industrial Revolution, spewing out carbon day in and day out,” could be “a good thing for your children and the future of the planet.” Environmentalists swooned. “Graham was the most inspirational part of that triumvirate throughout the fall and winter,” Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, said. “He was advocating for strong action on climate change from an ethical and a moral perspective.”

    But, back in Washington, Graham warned Lieberman and Kerry that they needed to get as far as they could in negotiating the bill “before Fox News got wind of the fact that this was a serious process,” one of the people involved in the negotiations said. “He would say, ‘The second they focus on us, it’s gonna be all cap-and-tax all the time, and it’s gonna become just a disaster for me on the airwaves. We have to move this along as quickly as possible.’”

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