Republican Global Warming Denial: We Are All Going Down Together

Climate Change Is a HoaxThis is time. And this is the record of the time.

I used to teach planetary astronomy. The interesting thing about it was how easy it was because of my work in earth sciences. Half the course involved the earth and moon. This is because — and this will surprise some — the earth is a planet. And it is the planet that we know the most about. It is also the planet that we care the most about. So when I started to hear conservatives a few years back grumbling about the fact that NASA spends a lot of resources studying the earth, I just shook my head. Even from the standpoint of exploring other parts of the cosmos, we need to understand the earth.

Of course, no one has a problem with NASA studying the earth. This is just a pretext to stop NASA — or anyone else — from studying global warming. I guess we were wrong all these years we have said that conservatives don’t have a plan to deal with climate change. They do! It is to pretend that it doesn’t exist. And as long as we deny it, it can’t be real. This is the “hide under the blankets until the most productive farm lands turn into deserts” plan. It’s brilliant!

Last Thursday, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology voted along party lines to cut almost 20% of the current $1.77 billion budget for NASA’s Earth science programs. What’s more, the ranking Democrat on the committee said that the new budget proposal was kept from her and the others in the opposition until less than a week before the vote. She said, “After we saw the bill, we understood why.” As Michael Hiltzik put it, “The budget plan perfectly reflects the House GOP’s glorification of space exploration, which masks its disdain for research on climate change.” Of course, there is a lot more than just global warming research being cut. But what does that matter in the grand cause of denying a problem that fixing might interfere with the profits of certain rich people?

We’ve come a long way since the days when I was working in the field. At that time, the conservative position was, “We don’t know enough. We must do more research.” As a result, Republicans were arguably as good at funding global warming research as the Democrats. But now, the Republicans aren’t skeptics. They “know” that global warming isn’t happening. They’ve seen James Inhofe’s snowball. They once heard that scientists were using a “trick” with tree rings. And Al Gore made money on his documentary. Thus, global warming is a hoax. QED.

This is all deeply disturbing. I want my country back. I don’t mean it in the conservative sense that I want some fanciful notion of “America” that never actually existed. I can remember the America I want back. In it, Republicans commonly used racist appeals to win office. They ran crime syndicates out of the White House. And they were total hypocrites. But they didn’t deny reality. If we had had the modern Republican Party over the last 40 years, the claim that tobacco smoking causes cancer would still be reported as a controversy. The Republican Party really has become something that is a quantum state more dangerous than it used to be.

There were many problems with the founding of the United States. But there is no doubt that it was a political extension of the Enlightenment. But in modern America, we have a major political party — which represents half of our people — that is so done with Enlightenment. It is too liberal for them. They want to go back further — to the Iron Age Middle East. And like all flat earth folks everywhere, they want all the benefits of the Enlightenment — central heating, fresh food, advanced medicines — without any of the responsibilities that go along with them like having to pay attention to facts.

It’s too bad we can’t allow them to go off somewhere and destroy themselves. Instead, we are stuck with them. We are all going down, together.

This is time. And this is the record of the time.

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