Friday, June 26, 2015

It is Time for "Conservatives" to End Climate Change Denial

Michael Gerson is a conservative op-ed writer for the Washington Post and former Bush administration official.  I don't always agree with his views, but increasingly he is a voice of sanity in the otherwise rabid dog world of today's Republican Party where objective reality simply does not matter.  For today's GOP, all that counts is insanity based most often on extremist religious beliefs and a desire to return America to the worse abuses of the Gilded Age.  In a column today in the Washington Post, Gerson makes the case that it is time for the lunatics conservatives to end their climate change denial.  Here are column highlights:
Reducing Pope Francis’s encyclical “Laudato Si” to a white paper on global warming is, in George Weigel’s fitting analogy, “akin to reading ‘Moby Dick’ as if it were a treatise on the 19th-century New England whaling industry.” The whole spirit and story of the thing are missed.

The pope’s sprawling, ambitious statement —  the pope is making a frontal assault on a technological and utilitarian worldview that treats creation as “raw material to be hammered into useful shape,” reduces humans to mere consumers and treats inconvenient people as so much refuse.

In the pope’s vision, both nature and human nature are gifts to be appreciated and accepted, not despoiled or redefined.

Francis is offended — infuriated, really — by how humans have treated their home and one another. And he has particularly harsh words for habits of consumption and exploitation in rich countries.

[T]here is no getting around the fact that Francis regards potentially catastrophic, human-caused global warming as a fact. “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. . . . [a] number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases . . . released mainly as a result of human activity.” 

In American politics, the pope’s encyclical has not made legislative action on climate change inevitable, but it has made the issue unavoidable. The politician’s shrug — “I’m no scientist” — is no longer acceptable. If climate change is a global threat, then addressing it, as the pope argues, is both a moral and public requirement.

But the dysfunctional American debate on climate change illustrates a broader challenge. Ten or 15 years ago, this issue was less divisive. But it got pulled into the polarization vortex. And now the two sides do not merely hold different policy views; they have different versions of reality. 

Many conservative Republicans now deny the existence or danger of human-caused warming and routinely question the motives of scientists who speak up on the issue. For a conservative to stray from skepticism is regarded as ideological betrayal.

In a recent National Affairs essay, Jim Manzi and Peter Wehner provide an explanation: “The Republican position — either avowed ignorance or conspiracy theorizing — is ultimately unsustainable,  . . . .

The pope’s views on climate change are shared by every national academy of science in the world, including our own. . . . . Conservatives can choose their policy reaction but not their own reality.

No comments: