Is Nero a Hero to Climate Deniers?
December 14, 2011
…it’s hard to believe that even a tyrant as petty and murderous as Nero would be foolish enough to watch the burning of his city-state and do nothing about it. But we Americans are.
Climate change is no longer a theoretical concept to be debated at symposiums by science nerds. It is happening right here, right now. Thirteen of the warmest years on record worldwide have happened in the past 15 years. In the U.S., 12 weather-related disasters this year have caused in excess of $1 billion in damage each, a record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Although many expected the global economic downturn to slow the output of greenhouse gases, emissions actually have been accelerating at an alarming rate, growing 5.9% in 2010 — the biggest jump since 2003. The American response? Fiddling around.
Susan Lewis in the Winchester Star:
Today, with China’s ascendancy on the horizon, our political leaders are calling for more students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. They understand that America’s ability to compete in the global economy depends heavily on our technical expertise.
How disappointing, then, that many Republican leaders disparage science and the work of scientists when it clashes with their ideology or merely suits their political goals. This attack on science has dangerous consequences, threatening to undermine science education, critical government funding for basic science research, and public sentiment toward science.
In 2009, a group of 18 prominent scientific groups headed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science sent Congress a letter stressing the clear evidence for climate change. Yet 94 of the 100 GOP members of Congress elected in 2010 either deny that global warming is real or have pledged opposition to any effort to mitigate it. When George Stephanopoulos asked House Speaker John Boehner what the Republican plan was to deal with carbon emissions, he replied, “George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen, that it’s harmful to our environment, is almost comical.” Boehner’s apparent confusion would be comical if scientific illiteracy didn’t carry potentially dire consequences.
The anti-science streak is so strong among Republican presidential contenders that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently called it “mind-boggling.” The majority of the candidates, including Ron Paul, Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry, don’t accept evolution, the bedrock of modern biology. “Can you imagine a company of any size in the world where the CEO said ‘oh, I don’t believe in science’?” Bloomberg asked the audience at a Columbia University economics forum.