Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 14, 2010

WHEN CLIMATE IGNORANCE BECOMES THE NORM.... For at least a little while, some Republicans seemed open to the evidence on global warming. As recently as 2008, the GOP's presidential candidate endorsed cap-and-trade, paid lip service to climate change, and received very little pushback from his party.

In 2010, ignorance is back en vogue. In New Mexico, for example, literally every Republican candidate for higher office denies global warming. In New Hampshire, there are six candidates in a U.S. Senate primary, and all six reject climate science. In New York's Senate GOP primary, the two candidates hoping to defeat Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) recently had a debate in which they explored the environmental crisis -- one called the science a "charade"; the other called it a "hoax."

These aren't isolated anecdotes. In 2010, as the evidence becomes impossible to ignore, the Republican mainstream has embraced a philosophy of denial with both arms.

A comprehensive Wonk Room survey of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate finds that nearly all dispute the scientific consensus that the United States must act to fight global warming pollution. In May, 2010, the National Academies of Science reported to Congress that "the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change" because global warming is "caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for -- and in many cases is already affecting -- a broad range of human and natural systems."

This finding is shared by scientific bodies around the world. However, in the alternate reality of the fossil-fueled right wing, climate science is confused or a conspiracy, and policies to limit pollution would destroy the economy.

Remarkably, of the dozens of Republicans vying for the 37 Senate seats in the 2010 election, only one -- Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware -- supports climate action.

Yes, and he may lose.

All told, Wonk Room looked at 48 Republican Senate candidates -- some incumbents, some not -- and 47 of them, to varying degrees, disagree with the voluminous evidence supporting climate change.

With conservatives having successfully killed a climate bill in the Senate this year, some may hope for a modicum progress in the future. Barring significant reform of how the Senate operates, that's unlikely -- the all-but official line of the Republican Party is that climate science is to be rejected.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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They are just playing to their base: the voter.

You know; the same simple folks who believe in space aliens, prayer, and lottery tickets.

Posted by: DAY on September 14, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

You left out a group of key voters. The ones who saw Elvis at the WalMart.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on September 14, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Right DAY. The GOP teabagger masses have been successfully brainwashed by Fox propoganda.

Wouldn't doubt a majority of these nutwings also reject evolution in lieu of creationism. Sigh...

Posted by: lrtc on September 14, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Elvis is alive! I sat between him + Bigfoot on the UFO!


Posted by: Zorro on September 14, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

The Nature of their nature

Science scorned

Limbaugh, for instance, who has told his listeners that “science has become a home for displaced socialists and communists”, has called climate-change science “the biggest scam in the history of the world”. The Tea Party's leanings encompass religious opposition to Darwinian evolution and to stem-cell and embryo research — which Beck has equated with eugenics.

And you say the Democratic base isn't motivated?
Then I say unto you: Dems ignoring the midterms is actually worse than republican ignorance.

Posted by: koreyel on September 14, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

in the party of 'no' stupidity is a virtue...

Posted by: H.Finn on September 14, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

And yet all of them — all of them — believe in an omnipotent and benevolent being in the sky, an evil pitchfork-wielding man at the center of the earth, and that a liberal hippie who died 2,000 years ago is going to come back and save them.

So it goes.

Posted by: chrenson on September 14, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Remember, this is only a temporary position for the GOP. Two of the three main legs of the GOP three-legged stool (big business and military/defense) need accurate information on global climate change for planning and business purposes. They can stall for short-term electoral purposes, but at some point they simply have to make decisions in the real world. Imagine, for example, a world in which insurance companies were unable to project the impact of changing flood zones or increased fire risks. They would go bankrupt.

Right now, they're relying on the Dems to fight the unpopular battle on climate change, but if the Dems just gave up on the issue (which would be terrible for the future of our existence on the planet), big business and the military-industrial complex would eventually be more explicit in supporting efforts to understand and mitigate climate change efforts.

In other words, big business and big military are playing a cynical game, tying the costs associated with climate change to the Dems (Carbon Tax! Cap and Trade!!!) while supporting GOP obstruction efforts in order to drive a better deal. They know they can't continue forever, so they are trying to create a more friendly politial atmosphere in Washington before creating a more friendly atmosphere in, well, the atmosphere.

Posted by: danimal on September 14, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, Republicans sure are stupid. Good thing Democrats have been leading the way for a serious energy bill, or, um, any energy bill. No, wait, we're the party of drill baby drill too! Well, good thing that, wouldn't want to make a distinction between the two parties going into an election, right? Might cut down on corporate contributions and excite actual people to vote for you.

Posted by: Tom Allen on September 14, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm wondering if the repubs consider their own medical treatments in the same light. After all doctoring is just another branch of science. maybe Rush Limpdick when he's feeling ill and sees a doctor would request that the doctor drill a hole in his head to let the evil spirits out. Oh, sorry he already did that.

Posted by: Gandalf on September 14, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

This is important kids:

Republican LEADERS are actually pretty smart, they know selling their souls to manipulate their stupid FOLLOWERS is the easiest way to win without having to do a goddamn thing to actually serve the people they represent. Furthermore, adhering to the stupid wins them funding from big corporations. Win/win.

Posted by: Layla on September 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

From such denial may come nostalgia from the likes of our Republican friends and neighbors. As such,they may suggest a return to a fool-proof policy for a bygone threat.

No doubt Climate deniers would like to see a return to the - DUCK & COVER - exercises that made us no safer, but a lot more dismissive of the threat!

I get the sense Republicans just want us to kiss our asses goodbye! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 14, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

A good point from danimal at 1:16 PM.

The DOD has considered 'Climate Change' a threat to national security for several years, and is planning for it. Because THEY are the ones we will turn to when famine/flood/drought replace Islam as the next boogieman. And it will be a REAL one, this time. . .

Posted by: DAY on September 14, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I go with danimal too. I knew climate science was real when insurance companies started paying attention. Utilities also want action. The military takes it seriously too. There are businesses in short who profit from the status quo and think they can profit from climate change as well (drilling in the arctic) and those who need to kinow what's happening and will lose out if they aren't careful.

I think they are playing a cynical game. I suppose they rely on the tribalism of the GOP--when their leaders tell them it's time to act on climate, they will fall into line.

Posted by: Mimikatz on September 14, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with danimal. True GOP allies know its real, false they will do a g.d. thing about it. Maybe when the day comes and after it's too late to do anything about GW, the GOP talking point will be "who could have known", but until that day, too much money is to be made ratfucking the atmosphere.

Posted by: Alrighty Then on September 14, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Remarkably, of the dozens of Republicans vying for the 37 Senate seats in the 2010 election, only one -- Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware -- supports climate action.

Mike Castle's unfortunate problems with corruption have had a negative effect on his credibility.

Meanwhile, an innovative way to power electric plants: burning Muslim holy books, or Clean Qu'ran fuel, as it's being called.

Posted by: MatthewRMarier on September 14, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

But... Brawndo's got what plants crave!

Posted by: ben on September 14, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, many of the traditional GOBP allies know that climate change is real, and that it's a problem, and they are already planning for it. But for purposes of financial and political gain, they are waiting before taking any action. The problem is: it's too late to forestall the cataclysmic effects of climate change. Now it's all about amelioration.

In the next 10 years, the American mass consciousness will finally wake up to how huge of an issue this is and realize that we can't continue on in the direction we're heading. Well, you can hit the brakes as hard as you want, but we're still going over the cliff...

Posted by: josef on September 14, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK



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