Ready, Fire, Aim: Republicans Plunge Forward on Wrong Side of Climate Debate

September 8, 2015

Anyone that thought climate was not going to be in the center of the 2016 campaign must have given that idea up after watching Hilary Clinton’s early campaign videos, and the optics, and visuals, deployed by the President last week.

Apparently, the GOP has decided to sound their own, uh…Trumpet.


Top Republican lawmakers are planning a wide-ranging offensive — including outreach to foreign officials by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office — to undermine President Barack Obama’s hopes of reaching an international climate change agreement that would cement his environmental legacy.

The GOP strategy, emerging after months of quiet discussions, includes sowing doubts about Obama’s climate policies at home and abroad, trying to block key environmental regulations in Congress, and challenging the legitimacy of the president’s attempts to craft a global agreement without submitting a treaty to the Senate.

There’s a terrific article in New York Magazine, that I’ll be coming back to, — it’s mostly about the pace at which the world is adopting climate friendly technology — but it has this well crafted eval of the current state of the once great Republican party at this pivotal moment.

The unique quality of the Republican Party’s climate doctrine can be found not in its Donald Trumps and its Ted Cruzes but in their putatively sane competitors in the 2016 presidential primary. “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” said Marco Rubio last year. A spokesman for Scott Walker asserted recently that the governor “believes facts have shown that there has not been any measurable warming in the last 15 or 20 years.” Even John Kasich, who has carved a niche on the far-left wing of his party’s presidential field for refusing to boycott the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare, has dismissed the scientific consensus as “some theory that’s not proven.” Jeb Bush has tried to dodge. “I’m a skeptic. I’m not a scientist. I think the science has been politicized,” he scoffed in 2009. His view has since hardened. “For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant,” he asserted earlier this year.

And the tenor of Republican thinking below the level of presidential candidates is cruder still. Dana Rohrabacher, a member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, has claimed “global warming is a total fraud.” Lamar Smith, the chairman of that committee, has mockedthe “malfunctioning climate models” designed by “climate alarmists.” James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, is the author of a 2012 book titled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. Conservative states have refused to entertain plans for the inevitable disappearance of their coastlines; some have even banned the use of the term “climate change.” Prestigious intellectuals in the conservative movement, likeGeorge Will, preach conspiratorial pseudoscientific theories.

The U.S. is the only democracy in which such a consensus can be found. (Even the conservative ruling party in coal-rich Australia is submitting proposals to reduce its carbon emissions.) Eileen Claussen, former president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, told National Journal that, while some individuals in other countries question climate science, there is “no party-wide view like this anywhere in the world that I am aware of.” The Republican Party’s complete refusal to accept any limits on greenhouse-gas emissions whatsoever is an unspoken force shaping the Paris negotiations. The outcome cannot be written as a formal treaty, since treaties require approval by the Senate, and Senate approval requires Republicans. Instead, the agreement will take the form of legally nonbinding pledges, which the U.N. is calling “intended nationally determined contributions,” enforced by international diplomatic pressure. The entire world is, in essence, tiptoeing gingerly around the unhinged second-largest political party in the world’s second-largest greenhouse-gas emitter, in hopes of saving the world behind its back.

8 Responses to “Ready, Fire, Aim: Republicans Plunge Forward on Wrong Side of Climate Debate”

  1. earlosatrun Says:

    Canada’s PM doesn’t believe in the science either…

    Hopefully that shouldn’t matter after October; we’ve an election coming, and his party’s not doing too well.

  2. As, historically, probably the country most profligate in its use of fossil fuels, it’s perhaps not surprising that the USA leads the world in denial of the resultant climate problem. Unfortunately the science suggests they’re now also leading us to hell in a hand cart.

    With the current Alaska and California problems, Katrina, Sandy and the seemingly annual East Coast’ Arctic freezing events every winter, you’d think they’d start to get it but I guess there’s none so blind as those who will not see. How to fix this?

    • grlcowan Says:

      A Hansen dividend of the proceeds of existing carbon taxes — e.g. natural gas royalties and severances, e.g. gasoline and diesel fuel taxes — with no new taxes and no rate increases.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        A “Hansen Dividend” might be a good thing, but why does that need to be conflated with “no new taxes and no rate increases” in your mind?.

        Wouldn’t the best use of the dividend be to reduce the impact of a carbon tax on the 99%, period.? Are you saying we should consider using it to avoid the needed increase in rates on the plutocracy and any “new taxes” we may need to serve the needs of the greater good?

        • grlcowan Says:

          I should have said, more precisely, no new fossil fuel taxes and no increases of taxation rates for existing fossil fuel taxes. New or raised taxes on goods do not increase government’s skin in the fossil fuel-burning game and thus may well be OK.

          A Hansen dividend of existing C tax revenues would be revenue-negative for government, revenue-positive for most of the 99 percent. So we would vote for it.

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    “Apparently, the GOP has decided to sound their own, uh…Trumpet”, you say?

    Exactly so, except that the GOP’s “Trumpet” is jammed way up into a bodily orifice that emits noxious and flammable gasses, and that’s what makes them so dangerous to the world. (That orifice IS closer to their brains, though).

    I would also take issue with “Prestigious intellectuals in the conservative movement like George Will”. Having read Will in the Washington Post for the last 40+ years, IMO Will is getting senile, and is about as “prestigious” and “intellectual” anymore as Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity. He used to ,make a lot of sense in what he said, but he has definitely deteriorated to the level of “preaching conspiratorial pseudoscientific theories” (and some pretty half-baked political and social ones as well).

  4. […] begin to weigh in on the issue. Particularly tough for Republican candidates, as their party has decided, incredibly, to go full Darth Vader anti-science on the issue –  to sound reasonable to […]

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