Copenhagen Beckons

The White House confirmed earlier today that President Obama would indeed be attending the climate change summit in Copenhagen, along with a handful of his Cabinet members.

Recent setbacks had left Obama’s attendance in question. Just last week, many world leaders at APEC announced that a legally binding deal on climate change would be impossible to achieve. And the Senate has put off action on the bill passed by the House until next spring.

The goal of the Copenhagen summit involves striking a deal that would replace the Kyoto Protocol, the pact signed by more than 200 nations that set binding targets for greenhouse emissions. A pact which the United States never signed.

According to the White House press release, President Obama plans to outline his goals for reducing emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels over the next decade. And then by 83 percent by 2050.

Still, many Republicans oppose engaging in talks at Copenhagen or even addressing the issue of climate change to begin with. I’d like to think this sort of denialist nonsense was limited to the fringes of the party. But it’s not. Doubting climate change has become a litmus test for how strong and loyal a conservative you truly are.

Take the frontrunners for the GOP nomination in 2012, for instance: Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, and Haley Barbour. Of these seven, four deny that there is any scientific merit to the idea of climate change, while the other three are all opposed to meaningful action.

There are plenty more examples. A few weeks ago, every single Republican on the Senate’s Environmental and Public Works Committee refused to show up for a hearing about the Boxer-Kerry climate bill. Their goal was to stall the markup of the bill, based on a rule that says at least two minority members must be present for a markup to begin. But this rule is more of a nicety than anything, so Senator Boxer, the Committee Chair, chose to proceed without any Republicans present.

I think the refusal to engage in debate is much worse than simple opposition. You can disagree on things without being disagreeable, without actively trying to avoid and stifle a legitimate debate. The issue of global warming and climate change may be the defining struggle of our generation, yet the current leaders of the Republican Party are united in their opposition to any sort of substantial action.

Contrary to what Republicans may think, climate change is not some sort of dirty hippie agenda. There is a worldwide scientific consensus that it is real and caused by human activity. More than two thousand scientists over many, many years have provided us with a peer reviewed report (sponsored by the U.N. and the World Meteorological Association) on the threat of climate change.

I can only assume that some of the Republicans have swallowed, hook, line and sinker, the disinformation spewed out by fringe scientists who have no peer reviewed articles which have been published in scientific journals and who are directly or indirectly financed by oil, coal, car, asbestos, etc., companies or false institutes or organizations set up and financed by the same dirty energy corporations.

The truth is that they don’t have to win the debate. They’re not even trying to. They just have to muddy the waters and cause enough confusion to provide cover for those who want to avoid facing the hard task of deciding what to do to slow down and ultimately reverse the effects of climate change.

I’m glad President Obama hasn’t bought into this nonsense and refuses to cater to the whims of ignorant fools who think they know more about science than inter-governmental panels on climate change. I’m glad he’s going to Copenhagen, even though returning with any significant results may cost him a lot of political capital.

About these ads

2 comments so far

  1. Morgan K Freeberg on

    I think the refusal to engage in debate is much worse than simple opposition. You can disagree on things without being disagreeable, without actively trying to avoid and stifle a legitimate debate. The issue of global warming and climate change may be the defining struggle of our generation, yet the current leaders of the Republican Party are united in their opposition to any sort of substantial action.

    Wow I’m really having a hard time making sense of that one. You start out with the “disagree without being disagreeable” cliche, but your invective is clearly intended for anyone who opposes…or even simply fails to exuberantly support “substantial action.” And what is this substantial action? Economic suicide.

    Maybe you think it isn’t. If so, say that. If it is, but the situation with our environment is so dire that we simply have no other choice if we want to survive — say that. But the “climate change” debate has long ago deteriorated into an exercise in pro-global-warming people imagining, and intoning, all kinds of personal shortcomings in the anti-global-warming people…so they can avoid substantial debate about these things. “Gotta do it!” is the extent of the argument. Meanwhile, the people who have said there is a profit-driven agenda here…there is lying…there is collusion…there is a willful attempt to fudge, massage, cherry-pick and falsify the data…have been proven right. I said proven, didn’t I? Not “strongly suggested to be,” but proven. This whole thing stinks to high heaven, there’s no reason left to believe in man-made climate change, scientific or otherwise, save for blind faith, awarded with poor judgment.

    And you don’t need scientific credentials to know what you’re talking about when you say so. They lied to us, they’re criminals, they’re trying to take our money. “Greenhouse effect” doesn’t enter into the equation.

  2. jasonfebery on

    Hi Morgan,

    Perhaps I didn’t make the distinction clear, but I would separate those who oppose action on climate change into two categories. Those who believe it is a myth, and those who disagree with the proposals currently up for debate.

    I think there is certainly a place at the table for those with disagreements on policy, but there is no question that global warming is happening and is caused by man. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies over the past few decades have shown this. Just as Richard Dawkins would say, “By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”

    The article you cited is a typical attempt to undermine a legitimate scientific debate. Rather than gathering evidence and developing their own scientific models, those who deny climate change prefer to attack the character of those making the argument.

    I think this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what science is. Once someone proposes a scientific theory or works to support it with evidence, they don’t “own” their findings or ideas. The theory is subject to scrutiny and alterations by the rest of the scientific community, all across the globe.

    The strength of a theory isn’t based on who is providing the evidence, but on the evidence itself. I could start messing around with the numbers and models regarding planetary motion, but that would do no more to undermine Einsteinian relativity than the group of scientists your article mentions.

    Thanks for your response, and happy Thanksgiving!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: