Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ignorance Is Bliss, Or At Least Convenient






In May, House Majority Leader John Boehner was asked by  a reporter "Are there steps you would support to take action against climate change, and do you think it's a problem?" Boehner stated "Listen, I'm not qualified to debate the science over climate change" before he explained that we shouldn't do anything about it.

Queried the same month about climate change, fraudster Rick Scott, en route to being re-elected governor of Florida, said "I'm not a scientist." Twice.  On her way in October to being elected to the U.S. Senate, ultra-right winger Jodi Ernst of Iowa maintained “I don’t know the science behind climate change. I can’t say one way or another what is the direct impact, whether it’s man-made or not."

Asked at an interview on October 2 about climate change, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded "We can debate this forever.   George Will had a column in the last year or so pointing out that in the 70s, we were concerned the ice age was coming. I'm not a scientist. I'm interested in protecting Kentucky's economy." The same month, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor was asked by Howard Fineman about climate change and responded "I’d leave it to the scientists to decide how much, what it means, and what the consequences are…. Let the scientists debate and figure that out."

You might notice a pattern here.  While a few concede the existence of climate change (but generally claiming ignorance of its cause) and some deny it, Boehner, Scott, McConnell, and Jindal are among those Republicans who have gotten the memo and now skirt the issue of global warming by denying they are scientists.

They may even have noticed another pattern, though few Republicans will acknowledge it.   Meteorologist Eric Holthaus reports that we of the planet recently have experienced the warmest April on record, the warmest May on record, the warmest June on record, and the warmest September on record. Not surprisingly, then, April to September was the warmest six-month  period  and November, 2013-October, 2014 the warmest twelve-month period on record.  Moreover, these trends occurred in the absence of an El Nino, whose arrival tends to result in record-setting warmth because it warms the Pacific Ocean, the world's largest ocean (image below, from NASA, of October climate anomaly vs. 1951-1986).









Six months ago, Holthaus noted human beings "started burning fossil fuels in large quantities about 250 years ago." Yet, there has "been more greenhouse gas emissions in the last 40 years than over the previous 200" years..    That's a pattern even more disturbing than grown men and women putting their hands over their ears, closing their eyes and minds, and doing whatever they have to to pretend they aren't marching to the tune of the fossil fuel industry.

The possibilities are endless. Pressed on their view of agricultural subsidies for the genetically modified crops of corn and soy, Republicans can say "I'm not a farmer."  On cutting taxes for the wealthy, they can claim "I'm not an economist."  On requiring businesses to provide health care coverage that covers the cost of contraceptives for employees, GOP politicians can maintain "I'm not a doctor."  And on the great issues of war and peace, they can admit "I'm not a general," a claim that would have the added benefit of suggesting only effete liberals believe in civilian control of the military.

Without their input, it would be one small step for ignorance, one giant leap for effective government.



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