R Schizophrenia re Global Warming

As we watch (with dismay, amusement, confusion, disgust) the Republicans striving to be their party’s nominee in 2008, the striving for ever extreme right astounds, seeking to gain the “base” Republican support necessary to emerge victorious through the primaries.

Well, one arena seems to show a reverse trend, an increasing split between the candidates and the “base”, where the leading Republican Presidential candidates seem to be competing to find their ways to sanity.  

As discussed last week by Chris Mooney at DeSmogBlog and today in The New York Times,

While many conservative commentators and editorialists have mocked concerns about climate change, a different reality is emerging among Republican presidential contenders. It is a near-unanimous recognition among the leaders of the threat posed by global warming.

NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE

Al Gore says that Global Warming should not be a partisan issue, but it is a moral challenge, an imperative for us all.  When John Kerry faced off with Newt Gingrich earlier this year on Global Warming, the most impressive (worthwhile) element was that this was not an Inhofian-Gore confrontation, with an informed person speaking to someone with fingers in the ear screaming “I can’t hear you.” Instead, Gingrich up front said that Global Warming is real and serious … the debate was about how to tackle Global Warming, what were best paths forward.

While Gingrich’s comments were often disingenuous and his approach half-hearted, this is a productive place for the discussion.

And, it seems like the Republicans seeking the Presidency are striving to be in that same space occupied by Gingrich, arguing about best paths to deal with Global Warming rather than whether it actually exists.

But …

Republican Schizophrenia

While the leading Republicans show signs of allowing reality to impact their thinking and policy concepts re Global Warming, this is at odds with a good part of the Republican base which remains driven, it seems, by the decades of the Republican War on Science and disinformation campaign about “climate change”. While a bit dated, this Rasmussen poll is interesting:

45% of Americans consider Global Warming a Very Serious issue. But, there are partisan divisions visible throughout the data. Fifty-six percent (56%) of Democrats say human activity is the cause while 51% of Republicans identify long-term planetary trends as the culprit.

Thus, even of those Republicans who believe in Global Warming (and, well, that is not all), over half point to natural reasons as the driving factors (no matter what the IPCC says).  And, a poll of Members of Congress found just 13% of the responding Republican members believed in Global Warming.

This is the perspective that Republican Presidential candidates are rejecting by actually talking of Global Warming using words other than Inhofe‘s claim that Global Warming is the greatest hoax ever foisted on Americans.

Republican Candidates on Global Warming

To be honest, while it is refreshing to know that the Republican candidates are speaking to Global Warming, we must be clear that none of their proposed approaches is adequate.  And, those inadequacies will be discussed in a future post on energy issues in the Republican presidential primary campaign.  

But, on their Global Warming views, from The New York Times:

John McCain is the candidate who has longest acknowledged Global Warming, actually trying to get (weak) legislation through in the past few years.  

I believe climate change is real. I think it’s devastating. I think we have to act and I agree with most experts that we may at some point reach a tipping point where we cannot save our climate. I don’t think we’re there yet, but the overwhelming evidence is that greenhouse gases are contributing to warming of our earth and we have an obligation to take action to fix it. … It’s got to be a global effort.

Mitt Romney equivocates, marginally admitting human responsibility, but he does.

You’re seeing the climate get warmer or climate change is occurring and I believe that human activity is contributing to that. I don’t know what proportion of the change is due to human activity but my policy is to adopt what I refer to as a ‘no regrets policy’ — to take action that allows us to become more energy efficient and ultimately become energy independent as a nation. … I would like to see us work on a global basis on this effort.

Fred D. Thompson, after mocking the threat in April, said more recently that “climate change is real” and suggested a measured approach until more was known about it.”

Mike Huckabee follows stewardship concepts from his religious beliefs and policies from that.

We ought to be moving rapidly towards energy sources that don’t have a greenhouse gas effect. Aggressively set the goal that within a ten year period, we should move a way from a fossil fuel culture to one that has alternative energy resources.

I don’t try to get into the middle of the science of global warming. … There may be [a human role in climate change]. But whether there is or there isn’t, it doesn’t release us from the responsibility to be good stewards of the environment. It’s the old boy scout rule: you leave your campsite in as good or better shape than how you found it. It’s a spiritual issue. [The earth] belongs to God. I have no right to destroy it.

We “have no right to destroy it.”  Whether atheist, agnostic, believer, this is a conclusion that we can all agree with.  

Note, if their was Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule (“you break it, you own it”) re Iraq, Huckabee is invoking the Boy Scout rule re the Globe. Could we hope that Huckabee would do better with the Globe than Powell & associates (e.g., Bush-Cheney Admin) have done in Iraq?

But, this is positive movement. There are words and concepts to work with.  From the Energize America perspective, I can find much common ground for action with someone serious about a “no regrets” strategy (such as the Energy Smart Communities Bonds)>  Thus, whether every word is one I’d agree with (don’t worry, they aren’t), these candidates give me hope for finding common ground for discussion and agreement.

*Not all reality-based thinking …”

Just to insure that we don’t think all the Republican candidates have tried to grab hold of a life vest of sanity, here are some comments from  Chris Mooney:

Indeed, if I was applying that typical debunker’s approach to the current crop of GOP presidential candidates–especially the ones who have zero chance of actually being elected–I certainly would have a merry time of it. Consider this tripe uttered by Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo in debate last May:

First of all, the whole issue of global warming, for every single scientist that tells you it’s happening and that it’s our fault — and they’ll stack up to here in this reports — I can stack up another group of reports that say just the opposite. I don’t believe that — well, I’ll tell you this, I don’t know whether or not we are responsible, we the human race, are responsible for global warming. It certainly could be happening, it certainly could be a natural phenomenon.”

Or consider an even more bonkers statement from Texan Ron Paul on Real Time with Bill Maher:

I don’t think everybody knows everything about global warming, because you have reputable scientists on both sides of that argument. … [If the government were to play a role] then you have to deal with the volcanoes and you have to deal with the pollution of China. So, do you want to invade China to make sure they don’t pollute? And what are you going to do about the volcanoes? They are all contributing factors to global warming.”

We can also add Duncan Hunter

Few people in global warming can tell you exactly what’s happening. And there is a difference in opinion as to how fast because ice ages have come and gone, how much of the country would be warming, how much the glaciers are receding — how much of that is attributable to mankind, and how much of it is attributable to the natural cycle? But I don’t think you have to answer that question to do what I’ve recommended. I think we have lots of reasons to be energy independent.

Sure, “exactly” … just like I can’t tell you exactly how many grains of sugar went into my coffee this morning, but can tell you with confidence that it was a teaspoonful (or, oops, was it two this morning).

But, well, only in their self-delusional minds, few conceive of Tancredo, Hunter, or Ron Paul as leading lights or premier rank Republican candidates.

It is interesting to see how the defining issue of the century (and millenia to come) is showing schizophrenia within the Grand Old Party, with those striving for the Party’s leadership (on this issue, at least) seemingly striving to lead the party’s faithful toward reality.

Global Warming should not be a partisan issue

It is a good sign for the Globe that the American debate is shifting from “whether” Global Warming is real (IT IS, a reminder) to “what to do about” Global Warming.  

NOTES

Very useful on these issues are these two sites/resources:

* NY Times page on the Candidates and Global Warming

* Grist’s How Green is Your Candidate?

One response to “R Schizophrenia re Global Warming

  1. Pingback: “Is Global Warming Overblown? « Energy Smart

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