Climate Change-the new wedge issue
The Washington Post:
“Climate change has become a wedge issue,” said Roger Pielke Jr., a University of Colorado professor who has written extensively on the climate debate. “It’s today’s flag-burning or today’s partial-birth-abortion issue.”
Historically, climate change has ranked near the bottom of issues that voters care about as they evaluate presidential candidates. It wasn’t a factor in 2008’s primary season or general election. The major parties’ nominees endorsed the scientific consensus and believed that the government should curb carbon emissions.
In fact, John McCain, back in 2007 clearly said to voters,
“I do agree with the majority of scientific opinion, that climate change is taking place and it’s a result of human activity, which generates greenhouse gases.” He made global warming a key element of every New Hampshire stump speech.
So what has changed? It appears that some Republican candidates are trying to out-conservative each other. Others have stuck with scientific thought. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman have both indicated that they agree with the majority of scientific opinion, that climate change is taking place. It’s a result of human activity and that green house gases are a by product of this human activity:
The nominal GOP front-runner, Mitt Romney, drew sharp fire from conservatives when he said in June that he accepts the scientific view that the planet is getting warmer and that humans are part of the reason. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. (R) on Thursday tweeted: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
This thinking is in sharp contrast to the beliefs of Candidates Perry and Bachmann (and others) who have spoken of faulty scientific process that lead to erroneous conclusions. Much of the reaction seems to fanned by the flames of the failed Cap and Trade bill that stalled in the Senate as a Cap and Tax Bill. Rather than attack the legislation as faulty, the far right has come out swinging and concluded that all the scientifc evidence regarding climate change is bunk. The Tea Parties have helped carry this message.
The scientific community has contributed to the backlash against climate change:
Missteps by scientists have given critics ammunition. Most notorious were “Climate-gate”e-mails hacked from computers at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2009. The e-mails showed scientists being combative and clubby, but multiple investigations in both the United States and Britain cleared the researchers of scientific misconduct, concluding that there was no evidence they tried to cook the books, as critics had alleged.
Embarrassing errors were also found in a seminal 2007 report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was supposed to establish, beyond question, the scientific consensus. One passage in the 3,000-page report, for example, stated that massive glaciers in the Himalayas would vanish by 2035 — which isn’t true.
Valid scientific evidence has been ignored and observable evidence like melting glaciers in Glacier National Park and melting polar ice are often dismissed as ‘natural climate cycle’ and other justifications for exteme change resulting from climate variances. In fact, no amount of scientific evidence is any match for those whose minds are made up.
The full impact of the greenhouse gases that we’ve already added to the system today won’t be felt for 20 or 30 years,” said Bill Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and co-author of a recent National Academy of Sciences report, “America’s Climate Choices.”
When Chameides and his colleagues began their research in 2008, they assumed they’d have to rush to finish before the government took action on climate change. Instead, they watched the political landscape change as “Climategate” and other controversies incited public doubts about climate science. They delayed their report to take a fresh look at the research in its totality.
It appears that all scientific evidence will be cast aside and instead, the opinions of those near scientific greats, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, will serve as the definitive word on such matters. I don’t know about you all but I am not ready to bet the ranch on the opinions of 2 politicians. We have much more to learn. We have to convince other nations to join us in efforts to protect the planet.
Visitors to other nations are often horrified by the filth and pollution in other countries. I have an asthmatic friend who nearly died while in Egypt. Our own athletes had to wear masks when disembarking in Beijing during the summer Olympics in 2008. When other countries show so little regard for the environment, we know we have to work twice as hard to halt practices known to poison our air, land and water. That hard work isn’t made easier by total dismissal of facts on the home front. We need to come to some national consensus that involves scientific data rather than political rhetoric. While we worry about the financial mess we are dumping on our kids and grand kids, we also need to worry about them not having clean water to drink, decent air to breath, and a climate that is habitable.
Further reading: Washington Post
Some glacier facts:
- About 10 percent of Earth’s land is covered with glaciers.
- During the last Ice Age, glaciers covered 32 percent of land.
- Glaciers store about 75 percent of the world’s fresh water.
- Antarctic ice is more than 2.6 miles (4,200 meters) thick in some areas.
- If all land ice melted, sea level would rise approximately 230 feet (70 meters) worldwide.