Global warming? Not here!

Long Beach Island, NJ, after Hurricane Sandy 2012

Long Beach Island, NJ, after Hurricane Sandy 2012

Extreme weather events like last year’s drought, catastrophic hurricanes and the upward trend in annual temperatures don’t convince the skeptics. Unlike conservative politicians in other countries, Republicans, especially Tea Party members, continue to deny the climate changes that the U.S. and the rest of the world are experiencing. The Pew Research Center reported last October that 56 percent of Democrats believe global warming is a big problem, but only 19 percent of Republicans do. Why? Why do Republicans dig in their heels in the face of so much evidence?

For one thing, libertarians and the extreme right, the same people who arm themselves against a despotic government takeover, are fond of conspiracy theories. They fear that warnings of global warming may be an excuse to raise taxes, part of a plot to take away their freedom and destroy jobs with laws like cap and trade. Republican political strategist and energy lobbyist Michael McKenna said the issue “is a surrogate, a totem for how you feel about large government versus small government.”

Politicians argue that the nation has many more pressing problems demanding attention. The national debt, they insist, threatens future generations of Americans. How much more threatening is the debt than the destruction of homes by scarcely controllable wildfires or flooding or freaky tornadoes? Than giving up fish that can’t survive warmer water and coral reefs destroyed by acidic waters? Than losing the Outer Banks and shorelines as we know them — the beaches, ports and coastal real estate — to rising water levels? Than sweltering in ever-increasingly hot summers and shivering in icy winters?

A much more compelling reason for politicians to deny the evidence in front of their noses is that they are paid to be climate-change deniers.

Continued in next post


Filed under Climate change, Environment, Global Warming, Politics

2 responses to “Global warming? Not here!

  1. lucia neroli

    Has the earth always been at a magic temperature or is the earth’s temperature & climate ever changing? If you study the short history of mankind, during periods of warming, mankind expands as does overall life on earth. In cooling periods, life on earth suffers greatly. Earth’s climate has always been and forever will be in a constant state of change.
    I am failing to see the conspiracy on either side~ seems to me a simple difference in opinions and beliefs~ Perhaps a matter of view rather than a republican / democratic divide. I am sick and tired or every issue becoming a democrat vs. republican issue. I happen to research both sides of this issue and there is a vast amount of research supporting both notions. Why do we have to make this a partisan divide?

  2. Diane Vacca

    Lucia, thank you for your comments. Climate does indeed change over time, and we know that many mammals became extinct during the ice ages. Animals and plants underwent severe stress resulting from drastic climatic changes, reduced living space, and curtailed food supply. These same conditions result from an overheated planet: plants and animals will migrate away from the tropical and temperate zones towards the cooler poles and will crowd into unsuitable habitats. The main food-growing areas will become deserts. The increased amount of carbon oxide in the atmosphere is dissolving in warmer seawater and the resulting acidity is killing off many species, like the coral of the Great Barrier Reef.
    I don’t agree, however, when you say that “there is a vast amount of research supporting both notions,” if you mean that the evidence that supports global warming is balanced by an equivalent amount of evidence that there is no such thing.
    The controversy is whether the warming is anthropogenic, caused by human activity. It’s crucial to understand if the warming is a natural event, in which case there’s little we can do, or caused by burning huge quantities of fossil fuel and sending an unprecedented amount of CO₂ into the atmosphere over a very short period of time. In case of the latter, humans may be able to alter their actions and delay or halt the worse effects of global warming.
    I certainly don’t believe there is a Democratic or Republican conspiracy afoot, but the fact is that Republicans are dismantling the EPA and obstructing attempts by Democrats to combat global warming. I’ll be writing about that in the next post.

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