The GOP, Climate, and the Tar Brush

72 Percent of Republican Senators Are Climate Deniers
Jeremy Schulman

Mother Jones
10 January 2015

I respect Mother Jones even when I don’t agree with it, but this article and its headline lurch away from intelligent debate and dangerously close to being little more than radical linkbait.

If the American Left is sincere about seeking to govern wisely – and we at the Bull Moose work from the assumption that it is – its pundits need to be very more careful about slathering the entire GOP senatorial caucus with the same tar brush. A careful, thoughtful read of the MoJo article and those to which it links makes clear that there are important gradients in the way in which different Republican senators approach the climate issue.

Those approaches range from hard-core deniers (“there is no climate change”) on one end, to the nearly 1/3 of Republican senators who do believe that it is happening and that it is caused by human activity. There are many fine gradations in the middle. For example, some of us believe that regardless of whether the science is clear or not, it makes sense for us to address the effects of climate change, and work on the assumption that it is caused at least in part by human activity by doing what we can to attenuate that change.

No doubt there are more than a few GOP senators who for whatever reason unable to accept the any suggestion that either climate change is happening, or that it is caused by humans. At the same time, painting the entire GOP senatorial caucus as hard-core deniers bought and paid for by Big Carbon obscures significant opportunities to build a majority (and perhaps a supermajority) in the Senate around climate policy. It is juvenile, it is inaccurate, and it shuts down debate, negotiation, and discussion before they are allowed to begin.

What we need is a more intelligent, less polarized discussion about these issues. Climate does not have to become as black-and-white as, say, the issue of abortion. But the longer we make the debate about ideology or partisanship rather than the policy issue, we polarize it and foreclose on even incremental progress.

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

3 thoughts on “The GOP, Climate, and the Tar Brush”

  1. Failings of the Mother Jones article aside, it’s a welcome change to see Republicans dumping climate change denial as an item of ideological faith. That doesn’t mean we’ll ever do anything significant about it. In fact, it’s far too late to avoid climate change, which would continue to worsen even if we completely stopped pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Now all we can do is live with the consequences.

    1. The use of buzz works skews the discussion of this issue and renders it meaningless. No one can deny, nor does, that the Climate is Changing. It has been changing since the planet was formed. But somehow, climate scientists have decided that the last 100 years is the baseline that should be maintained indefinitely, which given the history of the earth is irrelevant. Further, the entire weather forecasting community suffers from a lack of credibility. Their ability to accurately forecast the weather for next week is iffy at best yet we are asked to accept their predictions for 50 years in the future as “settled science”. But the bottom line is, even if we accept the premise that the climate is changing due to human activity (rather than other factors such as sun spots, wobbles in the orbit, El Nino, etc.), the remedies generally proffered by the true believers are totally unacceptable. The problem will not be solved nor will the necessary accommodations to continual and inevitable changes in climate, be made by turning over control of the world economy and means of production to a centralized government either on a national or global basis. The religion of class struggle has been replaced by the religion of “climate change”, but the goals of both are remarkably the same. Forcing mankind into a shared global poverty or a return to tribal existence is not a proper response to the continuing climate change humans have dealt with they began walking upright. Using their intelligence and technology to adapt, is.

  2. “Their ability to accurately forecast the weather for next week is iffy at best yet we are asked to accept their predictions for 50 years in the future as “settled science””

    1. Weather is not climate
    2. Weather predictions are among the most accurate offered by professionals of any kind. For example, medical doctors get diagnosis wrong, on average, half the time. By contrast, when the weather-person says there is a 50% chance of rain, it rains 50% of the days the weather-person makes this prediction.
    3. No-one, not even the most hardened tree-hugger, is asking anyone to “accept” predictions of 50 years in the future. What you are being asked to accept is that chemists know about chemistry, computer scientists know about computers, building engineers know about buildings, and climate scientists have identified trends with which all available data comports.

    There is debating, and then there is lecturing at nobody. Your post is, unfortunately, mostly the latter.

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