If you have been listening to the news lately you might assume that there is a major disagreement in this country concerning whether or not man-made climate change is real. Many people, myself included, find the discussion confusing, since virtually every credible expert in the field acknowledges that we are in the midst of massive man-made climate change , and that without quick action things will get much worse. Add to this the fact that we have experienced the most volatile weather in recorded history over the last few years, and you would think there would be consensus on the issue. But the media is filled with “climate change deniers and skeptics”, giving the impression we are in the midst of serious debate over the issue.
Perhaps this is the result of many of the positions taken by many prominent Republicans. Here is what a few of the recent Republican candidates had to say on the issue:
Mitt Romney while campaigning in New Hampshire – “Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is. I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans… What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.”
Rick Santorum on The Rush Limbaugh Show – “I believe the earth gets warmer and I also believe the earth gets cooler. And I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man, through the production of CO2 — which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas — is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all the other factors, El Niño, La Niña, sunspots, moisture in the air. … To me, this is an opportunity for the left to create — it’s really a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm.”
Rick Perry while campaigning in New Hampshire – “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling in to their projects. I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”
Michelle Bachman in a speech to the House – “Carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas; it is a harmless gas … And yet we’re being told that we have to reduce this natural substance and reduce the American standard of living to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in the Earth.”
In fact, virtually every major Republican candidate, with the exception of John Huntsman who said in a tweet – “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy” joined the climate denier bandwagon.
So the natural assumption would be that this was reflective of what their constituent’s believe. But according to a major new study by Yale University that is just not the case. In fact, 72% of all voters think that climate change is real, and should be a priority for our politicians. Finally something that both Democrats and Republicans agree on! While more Democrats than Republicans believe in climate change, their was overwhelming consensus on both sides. In fact, only 10% of voters do not believe in climate change.
So what’s up? Why would all the conservative candidates go against the conventional wisdom of their own supporters? Could it be because they are pandering to corporations as opposed to the people?
Exxon Mobil has been one of the most active opponents to any action on climate change. They financed a group of dubious scientists who questioned its existance, and have poured over $27 million dollars into lobbying efforts opposing any kind of climate change action. Perhaps they are doing this because they are technically the world’s largest contributor to the problem, spewing out 1 trillion tons of CO2 every year.
The Koch brothers, the billionaire oil and gas boys that pour money into the Tea Party, spent $38 million dollars on their lobbying efforts, much of it opposing anything to do with initiatives that would protect the environment.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Coal companies, the Chamber of Commerce, and dozens of other corporations that would be negatively impacted by clean legislation are attempting to manipulate the best government that money can buy.
But I have to remain optimistic. It appears that people are smart enough to see through the money and the political pandering, and hopefully politicians will figure out that cleaning up the environment could be good for their careers.