Two brilliant articles sum up the state of conservative politics in the US, and what it means for the rest of “us”.
Firstly, Bill McKibben describes how the Republicans have become the party of “denial”:
One interesting fact heading into the mid-term elections: Almost none of the GOP Senate candidates seem to believe in the idea that humans are heating the planet. A few hedge their bets—John McCain says he’s no longer sure if global warming is “man-made or natural.” (In 2004, he told me: “The race is on. Are we going to have significant climate change and all its consequences, or are we going to try to do something early on?”) Most are more plainspoken. Marco Rubio, for instance, attacks his opponent Charlie Crist as “a believer in man-made global warming,” explaining, “I don’t think there’s the scientific evidence to justify it. The climate is always changing.” The most likely cause of that change, according to Ron Johnson, who is leading the Senate race in Wisconsin: “It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity.”
He also brilliantly dissects the effectiveness of the denial movement:
It’s the same tiny bunch of skeptics being quoted by right-wing blogs. None are doing new research that casts the slightest doubt on the scientific consensus that’s been forming for two decades, a set of conclusions that grows more robust with every issue of Science and Nature and each new temperature record. The best of the contrarian partisans is Marc Morano, whose Climate Depot is an environmental Drudge Report: updates on Al Gore’s vacation homes, links to an op-ed from some right-wing British tabloid, news that a Colorado ski resort is opening earlier than planned because of a snowstorm. Morano and his colleagues deserve their chortles—they’re winning, and doing it with skill and brio—but not because the science is shifting.
However, the implications are troubling as Ryan Avent of the Economist explains:
This is an immense tragedy, for America, but especially for the rest of the world. I recognize that Democrats are no angels on this subject. Politics is politics, and no one is going to line up to accept painful sacrifices. I accept that in a world in which Republicans do believe in global warming, it would still be nearly impossible to pass a carbon price sufficient to slow and eventually halt warming. But that’s not the only option out there. It could still be possible to price carbon sufficiently to cut off the possibility of extreme tail events (some of them anyway). It would still be possible to invest in some new green technologies and some crucial adaptation plans. It would still be possible to strike a meaningful international deal on emissions, general mitigation strategies, and contingent plans for extreme weather events. We can’t even debate these options, because half of the people who matter in Washington are committed to denial of the basic facts.
We are sowing the seeds of catastrophe. I keep thinking that at some point, a conservative of conscience will take a stand and force the GOP to do some soul searching on this issue. There are hundreds of millions of lives depending on the decisions the American government makes. Surely some Republican of some importance values those lives over short-term political gain!
If America doesn’t get this right, and soon, it will be among the biggest and most unforgivable failures in our history. And we will be dealing with the fallout for as long as you and I live. We will be the bad guys. Worse, we are the bad guys.
After 9/11 Americans asked the world “Why do you hate us?”
Today, the question should be rephrased.
“Why are you so disappointed with us?”