I’m not sure what to make of Rebecca Leber’s article in New Republic, Republicans Understand Climate Change, but Only Behind Closed Doors. The story doesn’t especially back up that headline. There are only two examples given in the article. The first is regarding a trip to Greenland that some Senators took seven years ago. Well, as you may remember: seven years ago, even John McCain was talking about a cap and trade deal. The issue simply wasn’t toxic the way it is now. The second example was from 2012, but even there, all that happened was that some unnamed 2016 presidential candidate (I’m assuming Marco Rubio) admitted that there did indeed seem to be some warming — not that humans are causing it and that it will continue.
But I agree with the contention, even without the data. Republican politicians (Especially in the Senate!) are educated and sophisticated people. They at least have grave concerns about their global warming denial. And I would expect that at least half of them know that global warming is real, man made, and a big threat. These are the most vile of people: public officials putting their own personal political careers ahead of the interests of the nation and the world itself. They are traitors.
I don’t expect politicians to be altruistic. But as I said: seven years ago, this wasn’t an issue. Global warming denial has become a conservative third rail in exactly the same way that Obamacare became one: because the Republicans saw it to their advantage. It’s interesting, actually. In The Reactionary Mind, Corey Robin argues that conservatism can be defined as a reaction against liberation movements. That is certainly true historically. But the modern Republican Party seems primarily to be defined simply as being against whatever the Democrats — Obama most especially — are for. And thus, we can do nothing about global warming because liberals do what to do something about it.
One example from the article is very telling. As you may remember, about two years ago, Republicans came up with a perfect way to not talk about global warming. If a journalist asked them, they would say, “Well, I’m not a scientist.” I always thought this was curious, because it makes no sense. They may not be scientists, but that doesn’t stop them have having a scientific opinion: global warming isn’t happening. But while Rick Scott ran for re-election as governor of Florida, he used that dodge. So after he won his election (Would it be too much to ask for Democrats to run people other than ex-Republicans?!) Scott was pressured into attending a half hour meeting with people who were scientists. “Eckerd College’s David Hastings described the governor’s face as showing ‘no expression of his interest or concern,’ giving the session the air of a chore.” I think that says a lot. He knows that the data are convincing, so he just has to avoid it. The new Republican global warming dodge should be, “Well, I’m not a scientist and I don’t care to listen to what scientists know.”
For a long time, I’ve been saying that there will never come a time that will convince conservatives that global warming is real. But that may not be the case. Miami is not even two meters above sea level. If it floods, I think we might find that Rick Scott expresses some interest and concern when scientists talk. But the real problem isn’t Rick Scott. It is the voters. Rick Scott will just give a heartfelt Rick Perry, “Oops!” And the people will forgive him and elect him to whatever job he’s running for at that time.
Ultimately, all of our problems are of our own making. No one forced Fox News viewers to keep the station tuned in 24 hours a day so that the network had to animate its logo so as not to damage their television sets. No one forced the voters of California to turn against a GMO labeling proposition because Monsanto and friends dumped $50 million in advertising. The power elite have more tools than it has ever had to maintain its position and the keep the people down. They are evil. But we are stupid.