Must Read: The Coming Republican Civil War on Climate Change

May 11, 2013

This is one of the most important journalistic events in some time, by my measure.

I’ve told as many people as will listen, there is an emerging realization among senior Republicans and pollsters that the party is severely out of step with the general voting populace on climate change.  Polling data from the 2012 election has already shown that positions on climate have an effect, especially among the important independent voters that both parties seek to attract. The article refers to the issue as a “sleeping giant”.

Last year, I met with a very senior GOP Rep, and advised him that the they would have to begin finding a way to walk back their anti-science agenda – and if they think they have a problem with the immigration issue, just wait and let this one fester for a few more years…

He didn’t answer directly, but a day later 2 of his DC staffers called and were on the phone with me for an hour. I’ve since had another meeting with those staffers in DC. The National Journal article has a revealing passage in which it describes a recent talk by former Reagan Secretary  of State George Schultz, who urged climate action to a group of GOP congressional aides. He got a standing O.

National Journal:

In January 2012, just before South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, the Charleston-based Christian Coalition of America, one of the most influential advocacy groups in conservative politics, flew Emanuel down to meet with the GOP presidential candidates. Perhaps an unlikely prophet of doom where global warming is concerned, the coalition has begun to push Republicans to take action on climate change, out of worry that coming catastrophes could hit the next generation hard, especially the world’s poor.

The meetings didn’t take. “[Newt] Gingrich and [Mitt] Romney understood, … and I think they even believed the evidence and understood the risk,” Emanuel says. “But they were so terrified by the extremists in their party that in the primaries they felt compelled to deny it. Which is not good leadership, good integrity. I got a low impression of them as leaders.” Throughout the Republican presidential primaries, every candidate but one—former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was knocked out of the race at the start—questioned, denied, or outright mocked the science of climate change.

Soon after his experience in South Carolina, Emanuel changed his lifelong Republican Party registration to independent. “The idea that you could look a huge amount of evidence straight in the face and, for purely ideological reasons, deny it, is anathema to me,” he says.

Emanuel predicts that many more voters like him, people who think of themselves as conservative or independent but are turned off by what they see as a willful denial of science and facts, will also abandon the GOP, unless the party comes to an honest reckoning about global warming.

The problem is, as polling data and the changing demographics of the American electorate show, it’s likely that the position that can win voters in a primary will lose voters in a general election. Some day, though, the facts—both scientific and demographic—will force GOP candidates to confront climate change whether they want to or not. And that day will come sooner than they think.

Already, the numbers tell the story. Polls show that a majority of Americans, and a plurality of Republicans, believe global warming is a problem. Concern about the issue is higher among younger voters and independents, who Republicans will need to attract if they want to win elections.

The article also describes how the troglodyte wing is digging in against any acknowledgement of reality, and promises “political death” for those that dare.

Worth clicking the link to read the whole thing.


20 Responses to “Must Read: The Coming Republican Civil War on Climate Change”

  1. mrsircharles Says:

    The sooner this grand old right-wing party of denialists goes down the river the better.

    Bill Maher:Democrats Have Moved To The Right and The Right Has Moved To The Mental Hospital

    • andrewfez Says:

      I have a hypothesis that the 1960’s-70’s democratic ‘war on poverty’ was in part fueled by a desire to by large corporations to increase the number of consumers participating in their respective markets.

      I’m originally from West Virginia, a poor state who sees lots of Fed and State funds going into the rural countryside to pay for food/medicine/housing, etc. But just listening to how my father lived in the 1940’s, 50’s, etc., when he was growing up in a small coal town, it just seems like rural folk were living more sustainably and independently than now: everybody was raising a significant portion of food from their backyards, keeping chickens, hunting, fishing, etc. No one had air conditioning. (Heck, even I didn’t have air conditioning when i was growing up in the suburbs when i was in the first decade of my life.) No one was using mechanical dryers to dry their washing.

      A few years ago, whilst reading through internet blogs and such, I came across one fella, bitching about the state welfare programs, who claimed when he graduated college in the late 60’s/early 70’s (can’t remember), he was interested in helping people, so he landed a job with whatever yesteryear’s version of the Department of Health and Human Services offices was called. He was, to his shock, to go out into the country, and recruit people to give social benefits to. He had to meet quotas on how many people he signed up for welfare programs.

      [This story kind of parallels a story i listened to whilst, out of curiosity, listening to one of those Limbaugh-type conservative radio jockeys on Youtube. This guys said he started out working for his state’s Dept of Health/Human Services in NYC in the 1970’s, and his job was to go into a poor person’s home, make sure there was a couch, a table, so many lights, etc. in their living room, a proper bed, a nightstand, etc. in the bedroom, etc. I may not be remembering the details properly, but the idea was that the state had defined some criteria regarding home furnishings where a minimum standard had to be met: If a person didn’t have a night stand in their bedroom, the state would purchase a night stand for them.]

      Now fast-forward to the same countryside in 2000: folks whose grandparents were personal farmers/gardeners/homesteaders are now getting money from the state to drive to the Super-Walmart to purchase Cheerios, Hershey’s chocolate bars, big-ag produce, etc. Most of ’em I’ve come across in my adventures in the country do own an up-to-date car or truck (some even have upper middle class rides that require the high-octane gas). Lots of air conditioners, dishwashers, dryers, and 80 to 100 dollar per month TV cable bills being purchased by folks who receive some benefits from the state.

      So in my hypothesis, money that has a higher probability of being saved or invested by the middle class, is, through the state, being diverted onto the poor class, because there is a much higher probability that it will be spent on consumer staples and goods. This is exactly what corporate America wants – as much consumption as possible. And thus in my hypothesis, the democrats ain’t winning that many more sustainability awards than the GOP.

      This isn’t the video I was wanting, but it’s kinda close. There was a video I watched a year or so ago that had someone from the state of Hawaii praising the food stamps program as a way of boosting the economy. I always thought the food stamp program was a safety net against malnutrition and disease secondary to malnutrition. But now, it seems it’s a means to stimulate economic growth.

      • mrsircharles Says:

        Ha. You’re more or less confirming that a proper social system (which is also linked to less crime) is better for the economy than the middle and upper class gambling with their money on the virtual financial market.

        Here a neat story by the UK Independent which is for sure not a left-wing paper: 27% of Spaniards are out of work. Yet in one town everyone has a job “Special Report: Marinaleda is run along the lines of a communist Utopia and boasts collectivised lands”

        • andrewfez Says:

          I could be – I have no idea. My main point was that both main parties in America are controlled by multinational corporations that are hyper-focused on rapid and continuous economic growth, which is not sustainable in the long term, do to the finiteness of resources.

          Certainly I’d like to see a system where more investment is local (less NASDAQ, SP500, DOW), and is more focused on resilience and sustainability than market (economic) efficiency.

          I’ve heard that one of the biggest threats to America currently is that something like 40% of our economy is the financial sector – something that just makes money for the sake of making money – which has been growing as a % of the economy since the 1970’s.

          Thanks for the link – I’ll check it out, after I make my usual after-work internet rounds.

          • patricklinsley Says:

            One book that might be right up your alley is Uneven Ground: Appalachia since 1945 by Ronald D. Eller (infact you can read most of the book up to the modern era, but it cuts off right before the 2000s). He basically lays out how timber and coal companies took a drag line and chain saw to not only to the ecology of Appalachia, but to it’s people existence as a region that could stand on it’s own two legs. When the federal government began to try to alleviate the plight of the poverty of the region in the 40s and 50s the goal was to get them to be like the rest of America: a middle class existence based heavily on not only having the necessities of life, but amenities of the emerging middle class based on consumer goods, the independent nature of the people of the region be damned (in fact this was considered an impediment). It quickly became apparent to many people who volunteered in the region in the 50’s and early 60s that more was needed as that many of the problems alone wouldn’t be solved by more government social spending, but by directly confronting the coal and timber companies that enabled a political system of patronage that was sclerotic to the needs of people in the area and only sought to swallow more federal and corporate money to sustain itself. When the federal government finally got to funding volunteers (through VISTA and side groups like Appalachian Volunteers, etc) who would aid in building food coops (as that new supermarkets came to the bigger cities of the region, farmsteads were abandoned due to the cheaper mass produced foods from the midwest crushing their ability to farm for a living and they too became destitute and now were getting screwed by monopolized grocers in more rural areas who could charge whatever they wanted to a newly encaptured market), registering people to vote and make their voices heard, organize different craft and heritage festivals, etc it was quickly yanked away by state politicians and (by the time Nixon got in) a federal government, in part pressured by state politicians and their corporate lackeys who feared an awaken citizenry in the coal and timber region would no longer let them take their children’s future in that holler away from them as corporate profits in a ledger for companies based as far away as Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Mobile, that no longer felt that ensuring fairness amongst all people was a valid use force nor a goal of the federal government leading Appalachia and America in general on the path to oblivion we are on now.

            P.S Rush Limbaugh and his dittohead callers are the most duplicitous liars on earth. If one of them tells you your birthday, check to see if your birth certificate is wrong because they manage to be almost as untrustworthy as Dave Burton which is amazing because that guy is like wrong every time he has a thought in his head.

          • andrewfez Says:

            Thanks Patrick –

            Just scanning over the preview of the book it seems there were multiple threads of manipulation happening in the area. Corrupt local politicians who controlled who got the social benefits in order to secure power and votes, as well as nepotism, were a few points i hadn’t thought about. Being the son of a former director of finance for the state’s department of highways and transportation, I can tell you the nepotism is still alive and well, regarding government jobs.

            Another point that struck me was near the front of the book where the author was talking about the migration of folk back into the countryside in the 1930’s after the industrial bust: The land became strained regarding small farms trying to produce enough for the spike in residency. So there were sustainability problems happening even that far back, under a much smaller population than today’s.

            Thanks for sharing.

  2. ahaveland Says:

    So regrettable, so unnecessary and so stupid.

    The Tea Party, seeing science and reality becoming a threat to traditional fossil fuel profits and ‘American’ way of life, dreamt up a plan to manipulate reality, discredit science and scientists to delay or halt action.

    They railroaded the GOP into an ideological dead-end, dug a hole and had to keep digging in spite of ever more overwhelming evidence because fallability is verboten.

    Now that hole is so deep, the sides are collapsing as the population wake up.

    Physics and Nature play the hardest hardball.

  3. rayduray Says:

    I look forward to the day when Americans refer to Republicans with the same wistful incomprehension on exhibit when we discuss the Whigs.

    Signed, the 99%

  4. johnmashey Says:

    Do recall that the Tea Party was fostered by the Koch brothers, with lots of behind-the-scenes help from the tobacco companies.

  5. Wes Says:

    That National Journal article was well worth the read. The inmates have taken over the asylum and the sane folks are outnumbered and outgunned. The midterms are going to be interesting! Especially since the awareness of climate is really taking off. I’ve got many friends who weren’t interested at all a year ago who are now getting informed and talking climate.

    Too bad Obama isn’t one of them, but as a politician, when the parade gets big enough we can bet he’ll get out in front and pretend to lead it.

  6. daveburton Says:

    I think one of the main reasons that so many people are hostile to real science is that they don’t understand it, because, too often, the public education system really doesn’t teach it. I just attended a pathetic gov’t-subsidized two-day workshop on “communicating climate change,” in which most of the participants:

    A. Believed unquestioningly that climate change will cause massive sea-level rise, and

    B. Were frustrated and confused by a simple graph.

    The vast, vast majority of Climate Movement activists are even more scientifically illiterate than Al “several million degrees magma” Gore. It’s no wonder they think that people who actually understand the topic are “anti-science.” Most Climate Movement activists don’t even know what science is.

    • reggie Says:

      Daveburton troll, would you please be kind enough to ask Willard Watts a couple questions when you head back over to his fever swamp?
      The first question is why does he lie and deny the fact that Chris Monckton weaseled out of the debate with Peter Hadfield?

      The second question is why does Watts delete comments that mention Peter Hadfield and Peter Sinclair in a positive way?

      By the way Dave, thanks for all the laughs you provided when you trolled at Tamino’s, your epic fail was hilarious.

    • Gotta love teh Burton’s link on “what science is”. The first citation in the link is Crichton; so much for science…

    • ahaveland Says:

      That so just *so* pathetic. You think you know what science is?
      You consistently try to hide and spin what you don’t want to see and which doesn’t fit your ideology, and what is much worse, you try to infect others with your egregious wormtongue and help to confuse and mislead those that come to you for advice in order to delay action for your own selfish ends.

      In the UK, I went through a superb education system that did teach real science and got the scars to prove it.

      All the evidence is so compelling and all pointing in one direction, and that is that we are screwed unless anti-science trolls like you get out of the way in time.

    • patricklinsley Says:

      Oh wow so science isn’t a collection of verifiable facts, but a bunch of essays by people based on their feelings. Potholer54 basically nailed your entire claptrap site and abhorent backward thinking. Science vs. the Feelies

  7. MorinMoss Says:

    An additional worry in the coming decades is the aging population, at least in the Western world. Looking around, the increase in the number of greybeards is very noticeable and I’ll be quite long in the tooth in 2030.

    We need breakthroughs on all fronts, scientific, medical, environmental, sociological if we are to face the triple threat challenges of global warming, aging and resource depletion.

  8. Dill Weed Says:

    I hope the video did not hurt daveburton’s feelings.

  9. rayduray Says:

    Mother Jones has a nice flow chart on climate denialism:

  10. […] 2013/05/11: PSinclair: Must Read: The Coming Republican Civil War on Climate Change […]

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