Our Opinion: A Time Bomb of Willful Ignorance
Global warming is a total fraud and it's how liberals are going to hand off the United States to a global government that will control every aspect of our lives. No, we don't really believe that, but we are paraphrasing Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif.), a senior member of the House Science Committee, who said that during a Newport Mesa Tea Party meeting last week.
"It's step by step by step, more and bigger control over our lives by higher levels of government. And global warming is that strategy in spades," said Rohrbacher. "Our freedom to make our choices on transportation and everything else? No, that's gotta be done by a government official who, by the way, probably comes from Nigeria because he's a UN government official, not a U.S.government official."
As Lee Fang, writing for The Nation noted, such hyperbole is not new to Rohrbacher.
"In the past, he's suggested that global warming has been caused by everything from dinosaur flatulence to rainforests -- pretty much everything except the fossil fuel industries that provide Rohrbacher with campaign donations," wrote Fang. "Rohrbacher is one of many lawmakers who, despite living in a state reeling from climate disasters, denies the basic science of anthropogenic global warming."
At his town hall meeting, Rohrbacher went on to point the finger of blame at government-funded scientists who have received "so much money" for research that
"they have used it to intimidate people who disagree with their attempt to frighten all of us into changing our lives and giving up our freedoms to make choices."
Those scientists include members of the American Meteorological Society, which last week released its annual "State of the Climate" report.
"Many of the events that made 2012 such an interesting year are part of the long-term trends we see in a changing and varying climate -- carbon levels are climbing, sea levels are rising, Arctic sea ice is melting, and our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place," said Kathryn Sullivan, the acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
We bet Rohrbacher doesn't put any faith in that report or a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University, which found even minor departures from normal temperatures or rainfall can increase the risk of conflict by 50 percent.
But if Rohrbacher doesn't trust those bastions of liberal elitism, he might ask the Pentagon what it thinks. Daniel Chiu, the deputy assistant secretary of the Department of Defense, recently revealed DoD is adjusting some of its planning based on climate change's potential impact on food, water and migration patterns.
"Although the effects of climate change alone do not cause conflict, they act as accelerants of instability, which influences our operating environment roles and mission."
Climate change deniers span the spectrum from Rohrbacher to small-state think tanks, such as the Caesar Rodney Institute, which recently criticized the science behind Delaware's Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment
In 2009, CRI sponsored an online petition opposing cap and trade and other programs to cut carbon emissions "based on unproven fears of man-made global warming."
Delaware's Deputy State Environmental Chief David Small is not buying CRI's rhetoric.
"The science on this matter is settled and it is our responsibility to get on with the business of preparing Delaware for the future," he said. "We have felt the impacts of rising sea levels and need to be considering how our state, citizens, natural resources and infrastructure could be affected by extreme weather events over the long term."
CRI, as are many other critics of legitimate climate-change science, is a member of the State Policy Network, which Rebecca Wilce, writing for PR Watch, characterized as a right-wing think tank sponsored by billionaires and corporations to push the American Legislative Exchange Council's agenda in legislatures around the country.
According to SourceWatch, ALEC drafts legislation meant to "undermine environmental regulations and deny climate change, support school privatization, undercut health care reform, defund unions and limit their political influence, restrain legislatures' abilities to raise revenue through taxes, mandate strict election laws that disenfranchise voters, increase incarceration to benefit the private prison industry, among many other issues."
Right-wing luminaries who fund ALEC include the inimitable Koch Brothers, Peter Coors, the John Olin Foundation, Richard Scaife, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Corporate donors include ExxonMobil, Altria (formerly Phillip Morris), AT&T, Bayer, Coca-Cola, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Food, State Farm and Wal-Mart, a veritable rogue's gallery bent on maintaining the status quo to protect their bottom line.
But the corporations, money-bag elitists and legislators who insist on staying the course to human extinction may have met their match in the World Bank, which is shifting its focus on to climate change.
Rachel Kyte, the bank's vice president of sustainable development, told the National Journal that to achieve its mission to end poverty, it must find a way to slow or reverse the rate of climate change. If nothing is done to avert the coming catastrophe, said Kyte, "It's going to be extraordinarily difficult for the poor, who are the least resilient, to be part of the growth and opportunity story over the next few decades if climate change is unabated."
The World Bank is promoting strategies to help developing countries invest in their own resilience and in low-carbon developments, said Kyte. She also told the National Journal that climate change is having an impact on the developed world.
"The succession of storm events, droughts, the cycle of fires have enormous economic dislocation," she said. "Beyond just the extreme weather events, in which insurance costs can be calculated, there are costs in not planning to accommodate the increased intensity and frequency of some of these events. One superstorm is one thing, but if you now expect the superstorm to hit on a more intensive or more regular basis, not planning for that is an economic folly."
While there might be some short-term pain, said Kyte, the long-term benefits are immeasurable, and that includes increased economic stability, better jobs and well-being of our families.
"If you're concerned about your children's health, your own health, your grandchildren's health, if you're concerned about the job your child's going to get, if you're concerned about where your grandchildren are going to live -- this is front of mind," said Kyte.
Which side of history will you find yourself on, Rep. Rohrbacher? We're betting you and your ilk will be remembered 100 years from now with dumbfounded awe, and not in a good sort of way. But approbation for Rohrbacher and his merry gang of climate-change denials will only happen if we've taken the steps necessary to confront the slow-ticking time bomb that will define the fate of the human race. If we don't, there might not be many people around to hold them up for contempt.