Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Republicans Now Party of Climate Supervillains

Arnold Schwarzenegger as supervillain Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin. (photo: Allstar/Warner Bros/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar)
Arnold Schwarzenegger as supervillain Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin. (photo: Allstar/Warner Bros/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar)

By Dana Nuccitelli, Guardian UK
14 September 15
s Politico recently reported in a news story that seems better suited for a bad Hollywood movie script, Republican Party leaders are actively trying to sabotage the critical international climate negotiations that will happen in Paris at the end of this year.
Top Republican lawmakers are planning a wide-ranging offensive — including outreach to foreign officials by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office — to undermine President Barack Obama’s hopes of reaching an international climate change agreement that would cement his environmental legacy.
Republican Party leaders have often argued that the United States shouldn’t take action to curb its carbon pollution unless China and other countries do as well.
Now these countries are working to reach an international agreement in which all cut their carbon pollution, and Republican leaders are trying to undermine it. It’s as though they’re just looking for excuses to prevent the United States from reducing its fossil fuel consumption. As Jonathan Chait wrote,
In any case, the old conservative line, with its explicit or implicit promise that international agreement to reduce emissions might justify domestic emissions cuts, has suddenly become inoperative. The speed at which Republicans have changed from insisting other countries would never reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions to warning other countries not to do so — without a peep of protest from within the party or the conservative movement — says everything you need to know about the party’s stance on climate change.
Where have Republican Party climate leaders gone?
It doesn’t have to be this way. Conservative political parties in nearly every country in the world acknowledge that human-caused global warming is real, a problem, and propose to do at least something about it. Australia’s climate-dubious prime minister Tony Abbott was the closest analogue to Republicans, but he’s just been replaced by the science-accepting Malcolm Turnbull.

Many conservative politicians used to accept climate science an risks even in the United States. In 2007, Senator John McCain (who became the Republican Party’s 2008 presidential nominee) co-authored the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act to introduce a carbon cap and trade system. In 2010, Senator Lindsay Graham likewise co-authored a bipartisan cap and trade bill.

Sadly, although a majority of Republican voters support regulating carbon as a pollutant, and a plurality even support President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the party’s leaders have now taken an extreme stance on the issue. Many of the party’s presidential candidates deny that the planet is even warming (e.g. Ted Cruz), or that humans are responsible (e.g. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich). Among those few who accept the scientific consensus, most oppose all practical efforts to address the problem (e.g. Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina). The two Republican presidential candidates who support taking action to address the problem (Lindsey Graham and George Pataki) are polling at a combined 0.2%.

Republican Party leaders are trying hard to obstruct President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and have not offered any alternatives. The easiest way to eliminate those government regulations would involve replacing them with a small government, free market alternative carbon pricing system via the type of climate legislation introduced years ago by McCain and Graham. This approach is supported by a consensus of economists, and was introduced by Republican presidents Reagan and Bush to successfully address past environmental problems, but has virtually no support among today’s Republican Party leaders.

Becoming the party of short-sighted supervillains
Lindsay Abrams at Salon recently wrote, “Marco Rubio is trying to distinguish himself as a full-on climate villain.” With these efforts by the party leaders to sabotage all domestic and international climate policy efforts, Rubio will no longer be able to distinguish himself on this front. The Republican Party seems to be crafting itself as the party of climate supervillains, hell-bent on destroying the world. It’s an extremely short-sighted position, because as astrophysicist Neal deGrasse Tyson put it,
That’s the good thing about science: It’s true whether or not you believe in it.
Human-caused climate change and the associated risks and consequences are real, and they’ll only become more apparent to voters as the planet continues to heat up.

Becoming the party that makes every effort to obstruct and undermine all national and international attempts to address these tremendous climate threats is a recipe for long-term disaster. At the same time, the Republican Party is alienating growing minority groups who, in a few decades, are poised to become the American majority.

The point being, Republican leaders don’t seem to have any interest in the long-term health of the planet, human society, or even their own political party. They noted the latter problem in a 2013 Growth and Opportunity Project report, in the wake of their unsuccessful performance in the 2012 elections. However, party leaders seem to be largely ignoring the findings of their own report, just as they ignore the findings of the many reports on the scientific realities and threats of climate change.

Republicans should be climate change leaders
Past Republican presidents like Reagan and Bush have implemented successful policies that have solved hazardous environmental problems like acid rain, ozone depletion, and air pollution, with economic benefits far exceeding their costs.

Republicans invented free market cap and trade systems as an economically preferable alternative to government regulations of pollutants, to great success.

Today it’s Democratic policymakers who favor these policies and Republican leaders who oppose them. Thus, President Obama and his administration’s Environmental Protection Agency have been forced to act unilaterally, imposing government regulations on carbon pollution. By opposing all climate policies, including small government, free market, economically beneficial solutions, Republican leaders are bringing about the very government regulations that they oppose at their core.

It’s the job of leaders to lead. When President Obama changed his stance in favor of marriage equality, public opinion quickly followed. In the Supreme Court case affirming marriage equality rights to same-sex couples, the majority decision cited that rapidly changing public opinion. In this case, not only are Republican policymakers failing to lead, they’re not even following the lead of their party’s voters, the majority of whom support cutting carbon pollution.

It’s also the job of policymakers to address the risks facing our society. Instead of mitigating the immense risks posed by human-caused global warming, Republican leaders are actively trying to increase those risks by sabotaging efforts to mitigate them. Modeling the Republican Party after characters like Lex Luthor and Captain Pollution seems like a bad strategy; supervillains always lose.

+11 # Dongi 2015-09-14 20:36
Republican voters have to bring the hammer down on these suicidal and inordinately stupid Republican leaders. They have no right to endanger the welfare of everyone else on the planet. When does the rest of the planet take action to defend itself against the crazy GOP? Could they just be isolated in some hot spot up in the arctic ocean?
+8 # lorenbliss 2015-09-14 23:11
I am astounded anyone with a lick of sense is even mildly surprised by this newest round of GOPorker depredations. The Republican Party -- especially Donald Trump -- is the true voice of the USian Imperial Aristocracy, the One Percenters and their wholly owned vassals in government at every level.

And of course -- because our overlords assume the impregnable security of their castles and compounds, they oppose anything that might save the rest of us from the looming apocalypse. Since computers have thrown most of us out of work, we are no longer exploitable for profit, so our masters want us dead -- and the few survivors reduced to slaves.

That's what it's all about -- especially now there's actually a chance We the People might recapture the Democratic Party and with Bernie Sanders actually (maybe) turn it into an instrument of revolution. So of course the Republicans are becoming ever more savagely reactionary. All their Inner Nazis are simultaneously surfacing.
+7 # Peakspecies 2015-09-14 23:20
Along with tens of millions of other Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Party and Fundamental Christians they are so obsessed with sticking to the party line and their deeply entrenched world view that they are blind to the kind of future they will be leaving to their offspring. They see near-term jobs and quarterly earning reports as the holy grail that will fix any problem climate problem that the vast majority of climate scientists and evolutionary biologists have been warning us about for the last four decades. They have come to believe that many scientists and environmentalis t are out to destroy the positive outlook which has become their religion. They are consumed by their sense of righteousness.
+7 # Ellioth 2015-09-14 23:21
The Republicans are holding on for dear life to their thoroughly discredited core philosophy and world view of how an economy and society are "supposed" to run. Based on pure "free market fundamentalism" , every man woman and child for themselves, a Darwinian view of human life and community.The infamous Koch brothers are colorful examples of this. Their father was the founder of the John Birch Society. A repugnant lot.
If the Republicans were to admit that climate change is real and caused by human beings burning fossil fuels, they would be admitting that their core economic philosophy is all wrong. In their minds, government is to be eliminated and the "free market" is the dominant ruler. It all about their "freedom to drive for growth in scale and quarterly profits at ALL costs - and I mean, ALL.
This is destroying life as we know it, and that appears to be less painful than admitting that their beloved "free market" hype is an utter failure of colossal proportions. they will die before going down this road and take the rest of us with them.

As it looks now, we are just as ignorant and spineless as they are because we are letting them get away with murder - literally.

We used to be a country of people that made things happen. We are on our way to asking "what happened". We are deer in the headlights, refusing to look reality straight on and do something. We are allowing these fools to destroy the future for my children, and yours. Shame on us.
+6 # Farafalla 2015-09-15 00:11
At our current rate of warming, these deniers will live to see the fallacy of their baseless posture. I just hope there will be a law by then to lock them up for planetary ecocide.

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