GOP Fiddles While Earth Burns

Written by Ralph E. Stone. Posted in Environment, Opinion, Politics, Science

Tagged: , ,

Published on January 11, 2016 with 1 Comment

earth_burning

By Ralph E. Stone

January 11, 2016

There a scientific consensus on global warming.  In the scientific field of climate studies, which includes many disciplines, the consensus can be demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change.  So a consensus in science is different from a political one. There is no vote.  Scientists just give up arguing because the sheer weight of consistent evidence is too compelling, the tide too strong to swim against any longer. More than 95 percent of scientists working in the disciplines contributing to studies of our climate accept that climate change is almost certainly being caused by human activities.  Global warming is no longer about science – it is now a political, economic and social debate.

Global warming is caused by several greenhouse gasses emitted by humans in a variety of ways. Most come from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production. The gases responsible for the most warming are carbon dioxide (82%), methane (10%) and nitrous oxide (5%).

What are some of the documented effects of global warming?  Ice is melting worldwide, especially at the Earth’s poles; sea level rise has increased faster over the last century and is expected to have risen as much as 20-48 inches by 2100; global average temperatures have increased 1 degree Fahrenheit; precipitation is increasing across the globe; floods and droughts have become more frequent – and severe; fresh water availability is on the decline; and climate change migration and infectious disease transfer are on the rise.

The recent Paris climate control accord is a promising start, albeit lacking any force in law.  What is needed is a treaty, which, under the US Constitution, would require the approval of two-thirds of the Senate. Any climate-change treaty would be dead on arrival in a Republican-controlled Senate, which recently rejected elements of a new Obama plan to cut power plant emissions.

Prior to Obama’s Paris visit, the GOP-controlled Senate voted 52-46 for measures to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (limiting power plant emissions) and revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Plan is the largest component of Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which could achieve the carbon emission cuts he is promising the world. Obama vetoed the bills.

The president could enact an executive agreement, which does not require Senate consent. However, the next president could repeal the agreement. When it comes to a climate deal in Paris, an executive agreement probably does not meet the “legally binding” demands of the accord because the president alone cannot keep the promises set forth in the accord. For example, the Paris negotiators want firm emissions-control agreements. But only Congress can set specific national limits on greenhouse gas emissions and only Congress can approve a proposed $10 billion Green Climate Fund, as Congress alone controls the purse. Thus, President Obama’s action on climate change is at the mercy and consent of Congress.

There’s no mystery as to why too many in Congress, including the Republican presidential candidates, deny global warming.  It is because the oil and coal industries have conducted a vigorous campaign for years now, primarily targeting Republicans, to cast doubt on the global warming science and evidence.

Let’s look at what the GOP presidential candidates have said about the threat of global warming:

Donald Trump:

– “The concept of global warming was created by, and for, the Chinese, in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

– “This very expensive global warming bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temperatures, and our global warming scientists are stuck in ice.”

– In response to chilly temperatures, Trump tweeted, “Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!”

Ted Cruz:

– “And many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem cause the science doesn’t back them up. And in particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years, there’s been zero warming. None, whatsoever.”  (Real climate scientists, who understand this issue far, far better than Cruz, disagree).

Marco Rubio:

– “We’re not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our climate.”

– “We’re not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government wants to.”

– “Humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe, for the following reason. I believe climate is changing because there’s never been a moment where the climate is not changing. The question is what percentage of that is due to human activity? If we do the things they want us to do, cap and trade, you name it, how much will that change the pace of climates change vs. how much will it cost to our economy?”

Jeb Bush, who has made varying statements on climate change, said he believes humans are partly responsible for it but has cautioned against actions that would harm the U.S. economy.

Ben Carson, during a visit to California, seemed unaware about climate change and asked to see the science demonstrating climate change is caused by human activity.  California Governor Jerry Brown mailed Carson a copy of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with a letter asking Carson to utilize his “considerable intelligence” to review the material.  The IPCC is the scientific body created by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization to provide regular assessments of the state of climate science for policymakers.

According to a new poll, at least 70 percent of Americans believe global warming is real and supported by scientific evidence.  Realizing that denying global warming is not a viable campaign position, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are now combining half-hearted denials with an anti-action, economic argument.

Reaching an enforceable climate control treaty is the ultimate goal to arrest global warming and climate change. Without such a treaty, Republicans and their paymasters will continue to oppose climate change action, all while the Earth burns.

Ralph E. Stone

Ralph E. Stone

I was born in Massachusetts; graduated from Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School; served as an officer in the Vietnam war; retired from the Federal Trade Commission (consumer and antitrust law); travel extensively with my wife Judi; and since retirement involved in domestic violence prevention and consumer issues.

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  • Tad Bootle

    I knew you wouldn’t approve it. Whats the matter, Scam over.