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“America Is Not A Planet, So Let Us Pollute”: For The GOP, Climate Know-Nothingism Is Out. Climate Do-Nothingism Is In

There are many reasons why a Republican politician might oppose action on climate change. Addressing the problem requires government regulation, which many Republicans think is inherently bad. People they despise think we ought to address the problem, which makes it unpalatable. The Obama administration has taken a number of moves to address the problem, and everything Obama does is wrong by definition. Yet at the same time, there’s a vast scientific consensus that global warming is happening and we should act on it, and most Americans agree — even significant numbers of Republicans.

So if you’re a GOP candidate, what do you do?

Judging by last night’s debate and what the candidates have said lately, what you don’t do is say that it’s all a hoax. You don’t even have to take the widely ridiculed “I’m not a scientist” line in order to argue that we have no idea whether it’s happening or not. Instead, the emerging Republican position appears to be a kind of passive acceptance of climate change — less “This is a real problem” than “Sure, it’s probably happening, whatever” — accompanied by an insistence that we absolutely, positively can’t do anything about it, at least not anything that requires government action.

In the debate, moderator Jake Tapper presented the climate change question by noting that George Shultz, who served as secretary of state under Ronald Reagan, says we should take out an “insurance policy” by acting to address climate change the way we did decades ago on ozone depletion. “Secretary Shultz asks, why not take out an insurance policy and approach climate change the Reagan way?” You can see this question as either a clever way to force the candidates to address the issue outside of a partisan frame, or a ridiculous attempt to shoehorn Reagan in there instead of just dealing with the facts. Either way, the candidates weren’t biting.

To Tapper’s question, Marco Rubio answered, “Because we’re not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government that we are under now wants to do.” After explaining that any attempt to reduce emissions would practically leave all Americans wearing sackcloths as they stood morosely in bread lines waiting for scraps of food, Rubio brought in a second element that has become common to the Republican argument, that there’s no point in America reducing its emissions because “America is not a planet.”

Though that’s technically true, it ignores the fact that we can’t get other countries to agree to a collective effort if we make no effort of our own, not to mention the fact that it’s the kind of logic that would have me dump all my garbage in the street on the theory that my house is just one part of my neighborhood and I can’t control whether everybody else is keeping the neighborhood clean. Chris Christie then argued that his state had reduced its emissions without the government taking any steps because New Jersey uses nuclear power, and Scott Walker jumped in to say EPA rules on greenhouse gases would destroy thousands of jobs.

Because Tapper was eager to move on to other issues, nobody got a chance to toss in the final element of the current Republican argument on climate change: “innovation.” For that we can turn to an interview Carly Fiorina gave earlier this week. “The answer is innovation. And the only way to innovate is for this nation to have industry strong enough that they can innovate,” she said, after contemptuously dismissing the idea that nations could band together to confront climate change. “We need to become the global energy powerhouse of the 21st century, for so many reasons. To create jobs, to make the bad guys less bad, and so we have industries — including the coal industry — that’s powerful enough to be able to innovate.”

You may be thinking that the coal industry being insufficiently powerful isn’t high on the list of the reasons we haven’t solved the climate change problem yet. But the handy thing about “innovation” is that it sounds like the person advocating it is forward-looking and optimistic. And there will certainly be a part for innovation to play in addressing climate change; the problem is that it’s impossible to know exactly what that role will be. In the meantime, we can’t just wait around for some spectacular new invention to come along.

That’s why, if somebody advocates “innovation” as the solution to climate change, they ought to be asked two questions. First, what do you think government should  do to spur this innovation? If their answer is to make a huge investment in clean energy research and technologies, then that’s something (and it’s also what the Obama administration has done). If their answer is “Get out of industry’s way,” then you can be pretty sure it’s just a cover for “Let them pollute, like they already want to.” Not to mention that allowing industry to pollute lets them off the hook without any need for innovation at all; force them to meet emissions targets, and out of necessity they’ll find innovative ways to do it.

The second question the advocate of innovation ought to be asked is, “What do we do in the meantime while we’re waiting for this innovation you promise?” If by way of answering they talk about all the terrible things regulation will do, that means their real answer is, “Nothing.”

Which is the end point of the entire argument Republicans are making on climate change (except for those lonely few who actually propose to confront the problem). That applies to the remaining conspiracy theorists who think it’s a hoax, the ones like Ben Carson who falsely believe that scientists aren’t sure whether humans contribute to it, or the ones who acknowledge that climate change is a problem but only want to talk about how terrible government regulation is. The answer they all have is the same.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, September 17, 2015

September 18, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Climate Science, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Trump’s Emotionally Manipulative Secret”: How Donald Trump Tapped Into America’s Daddy Complex

Donald Trump likes to talk about himself in the third-person. “Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump,” the mogul boasted when he announced his candidacy for president back in June. I’ve noticed that I also talk in the third person — when I’m speaking to my toddler.

This is Trump’s emotionally manipulative secret.

I suspect he knows that parents instinctively talk to their young kids this way to comfort and reassure them. We moms and dads may not promise to make America great again, but we’ll happily tell a child what they want to hear: “Mommy will fly to the moon with you later, darling.”

By imitating this speech style, Trump plays to the idea that America wants a father figure in the White House. We want one person who can sit in the Oval Office and single-handedly solve all our nation’s problems while we play in the yard. Trump promises to be that president — America’s ultimate dad.

It’s not just his use of the third person either. His blanket pledge to fix stuff — from crumbling bridges and airports to immigration — while not bothering to trouble us with grownup details, like policy or budget, is oddly comforting to a huge number of people. Of course, Trump’s content-free pronouncements — and the fact that so many people seem impressed by them — make a significant number of us roll our eyes like angsty teenagers. But, alas, this isn’t putting much of a smudge on his luster.

So, what other trumped up paternal promises has Big Daddy made?

How is he going to handle all those dangerous Mexicans — aka monsters under the bed — who he claims keep flooding over our border? That’s easy: Dad’ll get his tools and build a big wall. The fact that the real Donald Trump is almost certainly incapable of mending so much as a blocked sink is, sadly, irrelevant. Kids worship their father regardless of his skill set.

And what about those bullies over at ISIS? “I would knock the hell out of them… and I’d take the oil for our country,” he told the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. This is an ultimate Dad move. That playground bully is bothering you? Daddy is going to punch him in the face and give you his lunch money.

Meanwhile, the mogul’s disingenuous pledge to increase taxation for the rich is reminiscent of the type of never-kept promise a frustrated parent tells a difficult child: “Daddy will get you a new toy at the weekend. Now eat your broccoli.” And just so we know that he’s genuine, Trump’s also promised to raise his own taxes: “Look, daddy’s eating his broccoli too!”

And, like the majority of hard-line Republicans, Trump has written off global warming as a “total hoax.” I have no way of knowing whether he actually believes this, but it certainly seems like something a parent would spout to reassure a petrified kid that they’re not, in fact, doomed. “Don’t worry, kiddo: Lots of people never die.”

With his pater patter, Trump has enough of us captivated to pose a real threat to the other Republican candidates — and maybe even the Mother of All Democrats, Hillary Clinton.

So here’s some parting advice for the left’s frontrunner: Start talking in the third person

 

By: Ruth Margolis, The Week, September 4, 2015

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, National Security | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Cruz Balks At Questions On Flooding, Climate”: References To Science Are Inappropriate When Ted Cruz Doesn’t Like The Data

Storms in Texas last week caused deadly flooding, and conditions in some areas grew even worse over the weekend. NBC News has confirmed that at least 24 people have died in Texas in the floods, and the death toll climbs when victims in Oklahoma and Mexico are added to the tally.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), like many officials in the Lone Star State, has worked on securing federal disaster relief for the affected areas. What the far-right senator has not been willing to do, however, is answer questions about the environmental conditions that may be contributing to the floods themselves.

CNN reported the other day that Cruz finds himself “in a bind on climate change.”

The Republican presidential contender has held two press conferences over the past two days to address the flooding and the government’s response. At each one, he was asked about the impact of climate change on natural disasters like the Texas flooding, and at each one, he dodged the question.

“In a time of tragedy, I think it’s wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster – and so there’s plenty of time to talk about other issues,” he said in response to a question on his views on climate change during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

It’s a curious response. For one thing, it’s not entirely clear how Cruz defines “politicize” – to talk about environmental conditions contributing to an environmental disaster is “political”? Are we to believe references to science are inappropriate when Ted Cruz doesn’t like the data?

For another, Cruz’s rhetoric makes it sound as if he’d welcome a discussion about the climate crisis and its devastating, real-world effects – just not now. There’s “plenty of time” for this conversation, he said.

But the point is, Cruz has it backwards. As the crisis intensifies, and the disasters become more frequent and severe, there isn’t “plenty of time” for conversations that climate deniers always want to push away.

Over at ThinkProgress, Emily Atkin argued yesterday that “let’s not politicize this” carries with it a distinct “I’m not a scientist” vibe.

[It’s] a way to avoid talking about the science that says human-made carbon emissions are warming the earth and screwing with natural weather patterns. Cruz, for his part, says he does not accept that science.

In the meantime, climate scientists across the country have been speaking out about the climate implications of the Texas floods. And on Friday, ThinkProgress asked several of those scientists to weigh in on Cruz’s comments.

The overwhelming response: Talking about climate change after a weather tragedy is not political. In fact, it’s necessary.

Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, for example, said, “The science isn’t political. It’s the solutions that are political.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 1, 2015

June 2, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change Deniers, Climate Science, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Nuance Of Climate Change Denialism”: No Differences When It Comes To What Government Should Do…Nothing

Recently Jeb Bush said this:

“The climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted,” he told roughly 150 people at a house party here Wednesday night. “And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it even.”

So he’s embraced the scientific fact that the climate is changing. We can’t really accuse him of being a true climate change denier.

I would also suggest that he’s right…the science isn’t clear about the exact percentage of climate change that is man-made and how much is natural. But from there, what he has to say is one hot mess. He makes the subtle suggestion that those who prioritize dealing with climate change are saying that the science is decided on how much is man-made and how much is natural. That’s a complete straw man that doesn’t exist, but he feels the need to call “arrogant.”

What the science actually says is that human beings are having a major impact on climate change. Anyone who doesn’t accept that is in denial.

When it comes to the 2016 Republican candidates, Sen. Marco Rubio occupies what might be called their own particular brand of “mushy middle” on climate change denialism.

Humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe, for the following reason: I believe the climate is changing because there’s never been a moment where the climate is not changing. The question is, what percentage of that … is due to human activity?

He too accepts that the climate is changing (because it’s always changing). But apparently he thinks it’s an open question whether or not human activity has any impact at all.

For flat-out denialism, the prize goes to Sen. Ted Cruz.

“The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that – that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened,” said Cruz…

When pressed about the fact that the arctic is melting, and whether that helps prove climate change is real, Cruz dismissed it.

“Other parts are going up. It is not – you know, you always have to be worried about something that is considered a so-called scientific theory that fits every scenario. Climate change, as they have defined it, can never be disproved, because whether it gets hotter or whether it gets colder, whatever happens, they’ll say, well, it’s changing, so it proves our theory,” argued Cruz.

There you have it folks, a rare moment of nuanced disagreement between three Republican candidates for president. But never fear, they dispense with all of those differences when it comes to the question of what government should do about climate change…nothing.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 23, 2015

May 24, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Climate Change Deniers, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , | 3 Comments

“Enforcing The Sound Of Silence”: An Epidemic Of CNE Syndrome Strikes Our State Governments

It’s well known that harsh climate conditions can mess with your mind — from cabin fever to heat delirium. But America is now experiencing an even more dangerous mind-numbing disease called Climaticus Non-Vocalism Extremism.

Oddly, CNE Syndrome almost exclusively afflicts a narrow segment of our population: Republican political officials and candidates. Scientific studies suggest that CNE Syndrome might stem from a genetic defect, but scientists say more research is needed on that.

The symptoms, however, are uniform and include an obsessive impulse by GOP politicos to deny that human-caused climate change is happening. It’s often accompanied by a feverish insistence that government employees be banned from studying it, discussing it or even uttering such phrases as “climate change” and “global warming.”

Hard to believe? For an example of the mind-altering impact of Climaticus Non-Vocalism Extremism, look at Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin administration. The Koch-funded governor and Republican presidential wannabe is an ardent climate-change denier — but the state’s public lands board has escalated his denial to Orwellian censorship. The two GOP commissioners on the three-member board, which oversees the ecological health of thousands of acres of Wisconsin forestlands, have banned agency employees from even considering damage caused by climate change. Worse, they have such severe cases of CNE Syndrome that they’ve imposed a gag order on freedom of speech by public lands employees, prohibiting them from even talking about climate change while on the job.The heartbreak of CNE is that its victims even deny that they’re in denial about the disease. Thus, the Wisconsin duo say that their no-speech rule is not censorship, because employees are still free to talk about climate change at home — or even chit-chat about it “by the water cooler,” just as they might talk about sports.

Gov. Walker — who wants to be your president — says that he finds that censorship perfectly reasonable.

But it’s not just Wisconsin that has imposed such ridiculous levels of science denial and censorship. This raises the question: If a state government issues a right-wing political order, but it’s not written down, does it make a sound? Let’s ask Florida.

Bart Bibler, a respected employee of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, says you betcha it makes a sound — even though the order directed at state employees like him was meant to enforce the sound of silence. Since Rick Scott became governor of the Sunshine State, various agencies run by his appointees have issued 1984-style newspeak decrees that “climate change,” “global warming,” “sustainability” and other terms related to Earth’s looming climate disaster are verboten.

Unaware of this censorship edict, Bibler innocently blurted out the phrase “climate change” in a February teleconference. To his amazement, his breach of ideological correctness earned him an official letter of reprimand, a two-day suspension without pay, and — get this — an order to undergo a doctor’s evaluation to verify his mental “fitness for duty.”

When outrage over this blunt attempt to banish the idea of climate change spread across the country, the governor and his appointees doubled-down on Orwellian denial: “It’s not true,” said the slippery Scott, insisting that no such gag policy exists. By “exist,” though, he means his dictate is not written down. As many employees have confirmed, however, state officials verbally impose their policy of outlawing the language of climate change. The official taboo is so extreme that even a phrase as benign and factual as “sea-level rise” is banned. Instead, Scott’s team has mandated that this measurable (and alarming) reality be referred to as “nuisance flooding.”

It’s their mental fitness that needs to be evaluated! Trying to ban words only amplifies their sound, meaning, and impact — while also exposing how pathetically scared and stupid the censors are.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, May 6, 2015

May 7, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Rick Scott, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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