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