Amid Historic Back-to-Back Mega-Storms, Republicans Stubbornly Deny Climate Crisis
With the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and now Jose rapidly approaching the United States, the topic of climate change could not be more timely. Despite Republican rhetoric, there is no real debate. There hasn’t been for decades. An overwhelming majority of those whom have expertise in this area – namely climatologists – agree that climate change is real, is caused by human activities, and is rapidly getting worse.
Republican state of denial
The facts don’t seem to bother Republicans. The Republican party is the only major political party in the world to officially deny the existence of anthropocentric (human-caused) climate change. Every developed nation on earth acknowledges not only the reality of this issue, but the dire importance of doing something about it, quickly. This was evidenced most recently with the 2015 Paris Climate agreement, when some 160 countries agreed to an historic carbon dioxide reduction plan, only to have President Trump pull the United States out of the agreement not long after his election. Fortunately other countries, as well as mayors, governors and CEOs have agreed to stay in, even doubling down on their commitments, to send a signal to Donald Trump.
A typical Republican response to the threat of climate change ranges somewhere from it’s a ‘hoax’ perpetrated by China (a la Trump) to it ‘may be real’ but it’s ‘not caused’ by human activities and therefore there is ‘nothing we can do’ about it. Too often, tired phrases such as I’m ‘not a scientist’ or the science is still ‘yet to be settled’ are trotted out, if and whenever climate change comes up in public conversation, which is rare. The topic of climate change was scarcely mentioned during the 2016 presidential election debates.
Consequences across the globe
As we’re seeing now with not just this recent string of destructive hurricanes in the United States, but with record-setting droughts, wildfires, storms, flooding and other climate-related natural disasters across the planet, the world is already experiencing the dramatic effects of climate change. The unfortunate fact that the Republican Party controls every branch of the federal government, as well as a sizable majority of state and local governments, spells disaster for not only the United States but for every country on earth.
Climate change hasn’t always been as partisan of an issue as it is now. In fact, when John McCain ran against then candidate Barack Obama for president in 2008, McCain not only acknowledged the existence of climate change, but called on the United States to take leadership in solving it. However, since then, as a result of Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United vs. FEC, which opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate money in elections, the fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in Republican candidates, threatening to support primary challengers to incumbents that publicly take a stand on the issue.
The time to take action is now
Despite the dire nature of the situation, it’s not too late to turn the tide. Many scientists still agree that if we shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels that we can still avoid the worst consequences of climate destabilization. These powerful storms that we’re seeing now must serve as a reminder that without a course of action, including active participation and leadership from our government, we will inevitably see increasingly severe weather events impact our communities, our economy and our entire way of life.
Which is all the more reason to make sure that candidates who acknowledge the threat of climate change, and pledge to take meaningful action, get elected in the midterms of 2018.
Featured photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
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