“Why are you so dissapointed with us?”: or how the US Republican party is holding the rest of us to ransom

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?”

16 thoughts on ““Why are you so dissapointed with us?”: or how the US Republican party is holding the rest of us to ransom

  1. Nescio says:

    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?”

    Of course the answer to both is easy: because of US policy!

    • Ray says:

      “After 9/11 Americans asked the world “Why do you hate us?”

      Which Americans? certainly not congress who declared war on the Taliban and Al Qaeda, certainly not Bush who signed the order, and certainly not the public who supported the action!

      And what in your eyes is the US policy that offends “the world”?

      • Watching the Deniers says:

        My questions are rhetorical (that’s plain enough).

        Nor do I wish to attack the average American citizen – of course their is a plurality of opinion in a population of 300m.

        Disappointment stems from US policy – or lack thereof – on climate change. People outside the US are disappointed with Obama’s lack of action on climate and the dismayed with the GOP embracing denialism.

        The US, for better or worst, is the worlds leading power. Actions – or lack of – speak louder than anything else. With power comes responsibility.

        Here is how the “rest of the world” sees it: America is not leading. They are abdicating leadership and responsiblity, which leads to a general disappointment.

        So “the world” looks to others for leadership… and just “who” are the emerging as a leaders?

        China and the EU.

        More so, China.

        People ask “What are the Chinese doing on climate?”. People look at the investments in clean energy and nuclear. People admire their pragmatism on the issue: they are looking after their national interests, but also acting on climate.

        Thus, the world is now looking at China with more hope than the US.

        Heck, the Chinese are playing a much better diplomatic game, with more finesse than the US.

        Does this surprise you?

        Are you a little shocked?

        “But China is a socialist state! What is there to admire or emulate?” you plead!

        Historically, at least since WW2, Australia has been aligned with the US. However those ties are weakening. But Australia’s *largest trading* partner is China. The nature of the China’s internal government is of little relevance.

        Do you want to get a feel for the debate in Australia is taking place? Read this from Quarterly Essay, called “Power Shift”:

        http://www.quarterlyessay.com/

        “…In the third Quarterly Essay of 2010, Hugh White considers Australia’s future between Beijing and Washington. As the power balance shifts, and China’s influence grows, what might this mean for our nation?

        Throughout our history, we have counted first on British then on American primacy in Asia. Now the rise of China as an economic powerhouse challenges US dominance and raises questions for Australia that go well beyond diplomacy and trade – questions about our place in the world, our loyalties and our long-term security.

        Will China replace the US as regional leader? If so, we will be dealing with an undemocratic and vastly more powerful nation. Will China wield its power differently from the US? If so, should we continue to support America and so divide Asia between our biggest ally and our biggest trading partner? How to define the national interest in the Asian century?

        This visionary essay considers the shape of the world to come and the implications for Australia as it seeks to carve out a place in the new world order.

        “…This year China overtook Japan to become the world’s second-biggest economy. It is already bigger, relative to the US, than the Soviet Union ever was during the Cold War. A Chinese challenge to American power in Asia is no longer a future possibility but a current reality. Few issues are more important to Australia’s future than how this plays out. You would not know it to listen to our leaders.”

        I’ve read White’s essay, and yes he discusses climate change and the American “paralysis” on the issue.

        Let me stress this to US readers – “deniers” or “alarmist”: the debate about the value of US “leadership” has begun.

        All the nosies about cultural affinity, shared history and language will be swept away by the hard realities of trade and the impact of climate change. Regional alliances with rising powers like China and India are becoming of increasing importance to a country like Australia.

        “But we’re the world’s largest economy/military!” you might say.

        When people look at the US, we view it through the prism of an “empire” in decline. Empires rise, empires fall. Who is rising?

        China.

        What has the US done over the last 10 years?

        Iraq. Afghanistan. Failed banks. A recession to rival the Great Depression. A bloated deficit. Unsustainable spending matched with silly tax cuts. Asset bubbles that burst. A fight over the implementation of a health care system that most of the developed world has had in place for decades. The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the neglect of the poor of New Orleans. Deep Horizon. We lookat the fact 50% of Americans deny evolution with amazement.

        Again, we see decline and fall…

        The global financial crisis confirmed in many people’s minds the US has deep rooted structural faults (economic, social and political). Hence, the US has become a cautionary tale, not the light on the hill it once was.

        US failure to act on climate change concerns “the world” because they one of the largest emitters of GHGs:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

        “Yes, but China is a worse emitter!” people say. Yes, but they’re doing something about it…

        http://www.ccchina.gov.cn/WebSite/CCChina/UpFile/File188.pdf

        Cold, hard-hearted calculations about power politics, alliances and trade are now taking place. Increasingly the value of a strict US alliance is being queried.

        You wouldn’t know it from the US media, but the time of American exceptional-ism is over.

        Finished.

        Done.

        It’s no longer a unipolar world. I don’t think the average citizen in the US gets that.

        Hence the dissapointment: the US could be leading the world on climate change. “You” could develop a policy to rival the Marshall Plan. I want to see the US lead the world on this!

        The “world” is waiting for the US to act. Instead – denial, denial, denial and a failure of responsibility:

        “…[of ancient Athens] In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. ”

        ~ Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.

        ***I cannot stress more heavily how much the US is squandering their diplomatic capital and credibility on the issue of climate change.***

      • Nescio says:

        Regarding “Why do they hate us,” please acquaint yourself with:
        http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/10/12/terrorism/index.html
        http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/10/14/wars/index.html

        In general US politics is centered around opposition to scientific fatcs, i.e. anti-evolution, anti-vaccination, anti-global warming, anti-drugprevention, et cetera. The overt anti-science movement has caused the US government to adopt numerous ridiculous policies.

        Because of that we live in a world that fails to address global warming, the lack of acceptance of evolution, the spread of infectious disease (i.e. HIV in Africa as direct result of ideological fanatics within the US), et cetera. Feel free to read an actual scientific paper while ignoring your politics/religion inspired congressman-TV anchor.

      • Sundance says:

        WtD said:
        “So “the world” looks to others for leadership… and just “who” are the emerging as a leaders? China and the EU. More so, China.
        People ask “What are the Chinese doing on climate?”. People look at the investments in clean energy and nuclear. People admire their pragmatism on the issue: they are looking after their national interests, but also acting on climate. ”

        Yes indeed China’s pragmatism was recently on dispaly at the UN framework committee on climate which met in China last week to attempt to create the means by which a climate change agreement could be drafted in Cancun. China actually reneged on their committments made in face to face meetings with President Obama in Copenhagen, and in essence killed any chance for an agreement in Cancun.

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-08/china-spurns-pledges-in-cancun-climate-change-accord-u-s-s-stern-says.html

        You also neglected to mention that China is constructing one new coal power plant every week. If renewables are a panacea for clean energy, why would China, which enjoys an almost monopolistic dominance of rare Earth elements needed for wind power, be building coal plants? Yes China is very pragmatic or they would not be building a new coal power plant every week while killing any chance of pricing GHG emissions in Cancun.

        So while China is pissing in the ear of those that admire them, those that admire the Chinese seem to think it’s just raining. While Americans may be bickering (court battles yet to come) over action on climate, at least most Americans know the difference between Chinese piss in the ear and rain. lol

        [I’m aware of all these facts – however this is the key, the perception is that America is not leading. By not acting, the US has left the field open for other players. It is all power politics of course, and China is acting in its own self interest. But into the vacum of US leadership rush others… WtD]

      • Sundance says:

        [I’m aware of all these facts – however this is the key, the perception is that America is not leading. By not acting, the US has left the field open for other players. It is all power politics of course, and China is acting in its own self interest. But into the vacum of US leadership rush others… WtD]

        WtD with all due respect you are dreaming and have lost all grip on reality. Please take time to examine this Pew poll which shows that dealing with global warming is the lowest priority for the US public and has been declining since 2007 to its current all time low in 2010.

        http://people-press.org/report/584/policy-priorities-2010

        In case you missed it “The perception of US leadership by foreigners” didn’t even make the list of US priorities. lol The top priority for US citizens is strengthening the nation’s economy. Do you expect the political leadership in the USA to destroy its economy by converting to expensive and unreliable energy while China powers its economic engine with cheap and abundant coal? I assure you that such an action would likely ignite a civil war among the states as many of them are on the brink of bankruptcy. You need to start accepting the reality that 10 days ago China killed any chance of a worldwide agreement on climate change. There is no other global leader to fill the gap that BRICS and the USA will leave. It’s time for you to wake up to reality and to start thinking about plan B.

        [And again, I’m aware of how much a low priority climate change is thanks to the denial machine.

        A point I’ve made here: https://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/rearguard-action-confusion-and-rendering-climate-change-irrelevant-is-the-goal-of-the-deniers/

        “But can we blame the average US citizen?

        No: they are the victims of a deliberate campaign of disinformation. The US media has is either complacent or compliant in helping create this confusion.

        The steady stream of think tank papers, op-ed pieces, television and radio interviews that denial machine produces or partakes in exist to convey the false idea the science is uncertain. Creating a climate of uncertainty is the goal of the “deniers”.

        However, the strategy is far more cynical than one of simply confusing the public.

        The intention is to make climate change an issue of little or no importance.

        Ironically, while the deniers expend all their energy on denying climate change their goal is to make the public to think as little about climate change.

        Again, a failure of leadership – WtD]

      • adelady says:

        Sundance “In case you missed it “The perception of US leadership by foreigners” didn’t even make the list of US priorities.”

        Even youngsters who weren’t born at the time have seen JFK’s speech bravely setting the USA on a course of space exploration and exhorting Americans to look to the greater good. The setting might have been the almost-forgotten Cold War, but it’s a stirring call nevertheless.

        Where is a similar call of leadership telling the world that America is committed to an adventurous scientific project that will lead the world? I see none. And that’s why we’re disappointed. Not only could the USA do better, it has done better in the fairly recent past and now wants to sit on its hands.

      • Sundance says:

        Adelady – Are you really trying to equate the direct threat to the USA that was realized when the Soviets, with nuclear capability, were the first to put a rocket into space orbit and then later the unfolding of the Cuban Missile Crisis? Do you honestly think that any US citizen if polled would equate climate change now with the then threat of nuclear attack? JFK appealed to US citizens in his call to action to enter the space race and was supported because all Americans understood the threat. Once again please refer to my link showing that in the USA, climate change is the dead last in our list of priorities. If BHO tries to emulate a call for action ala JFK, he will be booed off the dais and his fate as a one term president sealed. What can’t you understand about this? The US focus will now shift to energy independence which is a greater priority to US citizens and rightly so. We still may pull off a “space race” moment but it will be geared towards focusing efforts on breakthrough technology that doesn’t yet exist rather than the wasted transfer of money to Wall Street, international banks and criminals, and greedy politicians in the UN via some symbolic but useless carbon exchange treaty. You should be happy at this turn of events because the USA and the BRICS never intended to honor a climate treaty and would have cheated in its formulation in such a manner that it would have done nothing to lower GHG significantly.

        I’ll make this very simple, unless new clean technology is found, that is as cheap as coal and which does not require massive investment in a smart grid, nothing will change. Plan B starts with a bridge fuel to replace coal (NG) and a space race effort for new cheap clean technology. The radical environmentalists (cave dwelling proponents) need to be pushed aside by the pragmatic environmentalists or there will be no compromise and no action.

  2. Paul Pierett says:

    The only significant warming that can be consistently credited to something since the Mini-Ice Age 300-years ago is sunspot activity.

    Greenhouse gases are doing what they are suppose to do, slow the effects of highs and lows in sunspot activity.

    We are in one of the best balances of the Milankovich Cycles in 500K years. In the last 10K years we have had three significant warmer periods of this inter-glacial period.

    We had it good, but now we have entered a sunspot minimum again, pretty much on schedule. This will bring severe winters and the things that come with that.

    Green houses gases are doing their job, and to assist cooling from the lack of sunspot activity, upper atmosphere humidity and critical levels of Ozone production have dropped.

    Hurricane seasons will drop too. We will find in the next 30 years of global cooling that not only are hurricanes a global warming feature, but the Ozone layer as well.

    Paul Pierett

  3. zoot says:

    Paul, which universe do you live in?
    Where I come from, the planet we call Earth has just had the hottest decade on record culminating in some of the hottest years on record.

  4. Watching the Deniers says:

    @ Sundance

    [Your point: WtD with all due respect you are dreaming and have lost all grip on reality. Please take time to examine this Pew poll which shows that dealing with global warming is the lowest priority for the US public and has been declining since 2007 to its current all time low in 2010.]

    Again, I’m aware of how much a low priority climate change is thanks to the denial machine.

    A point I’ve made here:

    https://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/rearguard-action-confusion-and-rendering-climate-change-irrelevant-is-the-goal-of-the-deniers/

    “But can we blame the average US citizen?

    No: they are the victims of a deliberate campaign of disinformation. The US media has is either complacent or compliant in helping create this confusion.

    The steady stream of think tank papers, op-ed pieces, television and radio interviews that denial machine produces or partakes in exist to convey the false idea the science is uncertain. Creating a climate of uncertainty is the goal of the “deniers”.

    However, the strategy is far more cynical than one of simply confusing the public.

    The intention is to make climate change an issue of little or no importance.

    Ironically, while the deniers expend all their energy on denying climate change their goal is to make the public to think as little about [it]. ”

    Again, a failure of leadership – WtD

  5. Ray says:

    WTD, “Again, I’m aware of how much a low priority climate change is thanks to the denial machine.”

    That is BS, you have lost this debate on a grand scale due to exageration and false claims. For every Watts there were 20 Gores and 10-10’s hammering home our hot, starving, hurricane flooded, malaria racked death.

    Give not only US citizens but “a world wide citizen consensus” credit for seeing through the scam. The denial machine is us who the AWG machine failed to convince.

    And it was another beautiful Fall day, the mountain is turning color, ice under the sprinkler but shirtsleeve from 10:am on.

  6. Sundance says:

    As China has chosen to boycott the USA by no longer allowing exports of Rare Earth Minerals to the USA, it appears that the USA is attempting to build a bipartisan strategy to focus on clean energy and domestic energy security via a “put a man on the moon” approach.

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/real-world-steps-on-energy-and-co2/

    Also a change of heart as “President Obama signals a more ecumenical approach to energy policy, one that does not rely on any sort of climate science litmus test:”

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/10/times-they-are-achangin.html

    I like this approach as this would help the USA leapfrog existing inefficient energy technologies like wind turbines and solar panels and ensure that USA investment goes into USA technology that can actually reduce GHG rather than some corrupt UN organization that hasn’t accomplish anything.

    • klem says:

      That is a great link. Obama has clearly moved ahead while the rest of the leftys are still in the dark ages selling climate change fear mongering. Like I’ve been saying repeatedly, climate change is dead. There is no one in the world that would argue against investment in more efficient energy production nor against reducing pollution, but the developed world will not tolerate a forced carbon trading system designed merely to drive up the cost of energy as a way to force people to buy their wind turbines and solar panels. It’s a fantasy. And at next weeks mid-terms we’re going to see the payback for that fantasy. To increase efficiency and save money sure, to assuage global warming fears not a chance. That is a revealing link for sure.

      PS. wow what a depressing group you all are. Your attitude reminds me of the 1970’s when America was depressed that they had lost in Vietnam and suposedly the American empire was in decline. I’ve heard all of this beforer, i’m seeing it all over again with you people, saying how China will rule the world and America is finished. Rememer, the USA GDP is still 4 times what China’s is, and the great thing about China is that it is a revolutionary tinderbox. Out threre somewhere is another Mao Zedong working in a paddy field somewhere and the Chinese government knows and fears it. Have faith my friends. Be positive.

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