Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 29, 2010

MORE REPUBLICAN REGRESS ON GLOBAL WARMING.... It's disheartening enough that rejection of climate science has become a benchmark of Republicans' ideology. It adds insult to injury to see how quickly the party's perspective is regressing.

It was, after all, literally just a few years ago that plenty of Republicans were willing to take the threat and the science seriously. GOP presidential candidates like John McCain and Mike Huckabee not only acknowledged climate change, they both endorsed cap-and-trade plans. Rank-and-file Republican voters, by and large, believed what the mainstream believed when it came to climate science.

Rep. Fred Upton (R) of Michigan not only publicly characterized global warming as "a serious problem," he also endorsed reducing carbon emissions so we'd all be "better off." But has his party has shifted even further to the hard-right, Upton has, too. Brad Johnson has the latest:

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, incoming energy chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) joined Americans For Prosperity (AFP) president Tim Phillips, a global warming denier, to support the lawsuits by global warming polluters against climate rules. One of the companies leading the charge against the Environmental Protection Agency's greenhouse gas endangerment finding is Koch Industries, the private pollution giant whose billionaire owners have been directing the Tea Party movement through its AFP front group.

Upton once considered a "moderate on environmental issues," but has worked hard to refashion himself as a hard-right defender of pollution in recent months. Some Tea Party groups tried to block Upton from taking the gavel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, attacking his past support for energy-efficient light bulbs. Upton previously claimed that "climate change is a serious problem" and that "the world will be better off" if we reduced carbon emissions. However, in the course of the past two years -- as he received $20,000 from Koch Industries -- Upton has shifted to oppose not only cap-and-trade legislation but any form of limits on climate pollution whatsoever, instead supporting investigations against climate scientists and lawsuits against the EPA and its supposed "unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs."

This is what it takes to get ahead in Republican politics in 2010. Here's a politician who clearly knew better, and was well aware of the climate crisis, but then Upton decided he wanted to advance his career. So, he abandoned his previous positions, rejected the science he knew to be true, sold out our collective future, and was rewarded with the chairmanship of the House energy committee.

We've clearly reached a remarkable point: to be a contemporary Republican in good standing is to reject every shred of overwhelming evidence pointing to climate change.

But it's the speed with which the right-wing shift occurred that's truly impressive. It was, after all, April 2009 when Upton characterized climate change as "a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions." That was last year. It was 2007 when leading Republican presidential candidates not only acknowledged global warming, but endorsed credible proposals to combat the crisis.

And as 2010 comes to a close, we see that the party is now completely dominated, at every level, by climate deniers, cranks, and fools. Even those who knew better have been cowed into submission by the radicals in their midst.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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Don't these people have children? Grandchildren?
Under Bush, did they serectly colonize the Moon or Mars?
You know, if you're rich enough, you can bankrupt a country like the US, and before they torch your house, pitchfork your gilded ass and put your head on a pike, you can fly off to ruin some other economy.
But, where are you going to go when the global poo-poo hits the ventilator?
Are these imbeciles that stupid and greedy that they can't tell the difference between local weather and a global environment?
Upton anwered that question for me. But, Congressman, I refer you back to my question - if you are wrong, and the consequences are what we're being told they may be, how do you rationalize what you said a few years ago with your actions today.
RepubliKlans - They'd rather rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 29, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

" he received $20,000 from Koch Industries"

Looks like Washington whores come cheap.

Posted by: DAY on December 29, 2010 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

But remember, the Koch-sucker Brothers are only one john.
Nah, you're right, even if there's more, DC whore DO come cheap.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 29, 2010 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Its not the money. Its the fear.

Posted by: SW on December 29, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

They're against energy efficient light bulbs. I'm still surprised at that.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on December 29, 2010 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

In one respect, it's even worse than it looks. To do meaningful climate change mitigation, you need an economy that is robust enough to take a few shocks. In the economy right-wing oligarchs desire, there's not that capacity since it's based on exploiting existing but dimishing resources while starving new research into alternative energy. If you want to ensure that you get your way, make sure that there are no alternatives whatsoever. That's what the American right is doing here. Starving the beast isn't just for the government. It's also the future itself.

Posted by: walt on December 29, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

I think there is the potential of a big political gain for the Democrats on the climate change issue if they had the courage to go for it.

The Republicans have there heads in the sand. Ignoring scientists and listening to crackpots who tell them what they want to hear will not make the problem go away. Our grandchildren are going to look back and know we were warned. What will they think of us if we refuse to act?

Americans will make the right choice on this issue if some of their leaders are willing to lead.

Posted by: david1234 on December 29, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

They'll always have the Washington Times to get their back:

Posted by: martin on December 29, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK


No, it's the money.

If you take any global warming denier and follow the money, you'll end up at an oil company or a coal company.

If you don't, then you haven't tried hard enough or they have laundered the connection really, really well.

Posted by: Jim Ramsey on December 29, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

I never realized satire could be so dangerous. Someone, or some party, is likely to take it seriously. Sir Bob Geldof never imagined, for a moment, that Republicans would take something like "The Great Song of Indifference" to heart:

I don't mind if the government falls
Implements more futile laws
I don't care if the nation stalls
And I don't care at all

I don't care if they tear down trees
I don't feel the hotter breeze
Sink in dust in dying seas
And I don't care at all

Na na na etc.

I don't mind if culture crumbles
I don't mind if religion stumbles
I can't hear the speakers mumble
And I don't mind at all

I don't care if the Third World fries
It's hotter there I'm not surprised
Baby I can watch whole nations die
And I don't care at all

I don't mind I don't mind I don't mind I don't mind
I don't mind I don't mind
I don't mind at all

There you have it. The
battle hymn of the republicans. Just in time for 2012.

Posted by: broken arrow on December 29, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

" Ignoring scientists and listening to crackpots who tell them what they want to hear will not make the problem go away" -david1234

A couple of 800 pound gorillas have weighed in on the topic: The Department of Defense, in a study last year, called "climate change" the single biggest threat to our national security.

And the insurance industry is well aware of the catastrophic losses they will have, should they ignore the issue.

But, politicians and corporations live for the moment. If the sun went supernova this morning, it would be 8 minutes before we knew about it- and several more seconds to feel the effects. A lifetime in Washington. . .

Posted by: DAY on December 29, 2010 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

My god, $20k is all it costs to buy the influence of a congressman on a vital issue of the day affecting millions of lives and billions of dollars?

Posted by: ElegantFowl on December 29, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

A correct to Benen's posting...

"...to be a contemporary Republican in good standing is to reject every shred of overwhelming evidence pointing to climate change."

should be changed to "...to be a contemporary Republican in good standing is to reject every shred OF SCIENCE."

The reich wing of the republican base 'believes' and they know that belief is much more important than science or other facts. The rich wing of the republican party, who finances its activities, knows that science is against their financial interests and knows that some 'investment' in convincing the reich wing base to believe in anti-science helps make them wealthier.

Remember the rich wing rethug mottos:
- More is never enough.
- I've got mine, f*ck you.

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 29, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Surely we must know by now that the conservatives do not have any morals, they will take any side of a position depending on the price, or pressure from the tea party. Never let it be said that science gets in the way, these dumbos know better than the scientists. If the repubs get control of everything we will go even further down the list of educated countries.

Posted by: joan on December 29, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

But... but... it was COLD yesterday. Therefore, global warming must be a myth! Or a hoax!

I agree with previous posters that $20,000 is not a lot of money to cause a person to conspire in the deaths of millions of people. Maybe Upton was given more money and it hasn't been reported.

Posted by: josef on December 29, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

what i find odd about the absolute enforced orthodoxy of the Republicans on the climate issue is that "green" issues cannot be fairly characterized as "anti-business." i mean, don't any Republicans get money from GE? (wind turbines, lighting technologies) There are thousands of companies in efficiency technologies, recycling, materials, lighting, batteries, wind, solar, geothermal etc that stand to benefit from efforts to respond to climate threats. Shouldn't the Republicans at least have some dissonance about the split among their business constituency?

Posted by: zeitgeist on December 29, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Gee, we seem to be headed for A Canticle for Leibowitz" level of science-rejection without even the excuse of WWIII. Who knew Walter Miller was an optimist? He never imagined that a group of anti-science zealots could get us there without a nuclear apocalypse.

Posted by: KarenJG on December 29, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Political influence does come cheap. I saw a list of how much money is paid by Kock industries and other corps to the Republican party and Democrats, and it ain't really that much. But I guess it's enough to give the political slime a boner.

Posted by: Duncan on December 29, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's easy to snicker, but the incoming Republican House will shape the federal science budgets, not to mention all sorts of energy policies. Soon, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes for Health will distribute research funds as Republicans desire. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) will not dabble in anything that might support notions of a changing climate. Nor will the US Geological Survey.

Most research is funded by the federal government. Even a Warren Buffet-sized fortune doesn't count for much by comparison. When NSF priorities change, American universities will quickly come into compliance.

European and Asian universities and research institutes will be able to fill some of the gaps, but science funding is being cut even in Europe.

One of the better guides to the period ahead of us may be a Russian classic, "The Rise and Fall of T.D. Lysenko" by Zhores A. Medvedev. The abolition of genetics in the Soviet Union and, later, China, disrupted much-needed plant breeding, contributing agricultural failure. This disaster happened under a tyranny, which makes it fairly easily explainable. What's creepy about the rejection of climate science is that it's happening in a nominally democratic society in which deliberate misinformation can trump science, and in which internet-using loudmouths drown out science.

Posted by: David Martin on December 29, 2010 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Just wait until a Category 5 hurricane hits Miami. Or New York. Or Los Angeles (including Orange Co.)
One can only hope that some of these yahoos are out fishing at the time...

Posted by: Doug on December 29, 2010 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Doug, you reminded me. Sea level is NOT rising.

Posted by: David Martin on December 29, 2010 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

David Martin wrote:
Sea level is NOT rising.

Really? Every report that I've seen in the last few years says that the global sea level is rising (e.g., the IPCC 2007 report). The only point of contention seems to be whether or not the rise is accelerating. I would be interested in knowing what you base your statement on.

Posted by: josef on December 30, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

I just hope that everyone who is commenting here is willing to stand up to this bulls#!t and recruit their friends and family to do the same. The Redumblicans will damn us and our children to a life misery if we don't object, and object loudly.

Posted by: Dave on December 30, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

The echo chamber is in full cry today.
Science is build upon demonstrable phenomena and projections.
Kindly tell me how such are possible for the co2 theories. You have, after all, only a short timeline available to use as a basis for comparison. Worse, having accepted a greatly reduced input for modeling - it is accepted that the resulting simplification yields anything in a reliable basis for forecasting.
So here we are with one ridiculous complexity piled atop another and postulation that the world is ending is to be accepted on the basis of innately unverifiable theorizing and 'calculation'.
When I first learned about computers, there was a basic fact impressed upon the students : G.I.G.O.
Garbage In = Garbage Out
That is scientific.
If you are open to the contest of ideas I believe I can show that there is nothing 'scientific' about Strawman Argumentation reducing the disputes of various premises to a Political Football...with a scheme for an International Tax on the Use of Fire riding on the outcome.
But,but...climate change. Pollution concerns!
So talk about pollution, poisoning the well, killing global seedstocks.
Those are all in my Topical Index of articles where I seek out divergent views...not the brainwashed 'common sense' of TV culture.

Posted by: opit on January 1, 2011 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK



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