Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Republican Party Is Morally Corrupt: Climate Change

One of the more depressing aspects of the American political scene is watching our inaction on climate change and global warming. The main roadblock has always been the Republican Party, and everybody knows it. The Republican objections -- also known as their strategies for preventing action -- are essentially two-fold: One, it's not really happening, and, two, halting it would be too damaging to our economy.

Neither are true. (What's a little funny is that in order to put a price tag on the economic damage caused by fighting climate change, you have to acknowledge that we could fight climate change. Weird, huh?)

  • The scientific consensus on climate change and its causes approach 100%. There is no controversy, there is only denialism and obstruction by the Republican Party. Here is a good NASA site on the nature of the consensus. Here is a classic conservative attempt to misinform and propagandize in the National Review. Note that its author, John Fund, quotes only the Wall Street Journal, the libertarian Cascade Policy Institute, and the conservative and libertarian Heartland Institute to make his case. Seriously?
  • As for the expense of fighting climate change, that's another straw man. The price of alternative sources of energy continue to fall, and the economic benefits of participating in the alternative energy technology economy continue to grow. Alternative energy projects continue to spread across the globe because many countries do take global warming seriously. Germany is getting 75%, as of this May, of its peak electricity needs from renewable sources. They have a growing economy with much lower unemployment that the U.S. Not exactly destroying its economy, is it? It's helping to grow its economy, and we here in the U.S. could do it, too. Instead we let other nations lead the way.
  • Jimmy Carter put solar panels on top of the White House, and Ronald Reagan contemptuously tore them down, setting back U.S. renewable energy policy for a generation. This makes Ronald Reagan a conservative icon without peer? Apparently, but it didn't help our economy. Denmark picked up the slack and still leads the world in wind turbine manufacturing. GE-Wind and special tax credits are helping the U.S. to catch up. Although photovoltaic panels are manufactured here in the U.S. by a number of companies, China now vastly out-manufactures the U.S. in that area, too. Among the current top-ten solar-panel manufacturers in the world, most are Chinese, some are Japanese, and only one, First Solar, is American, though much of its manufacturing is abroad.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party fights tooth-and-nail to protect the coal industry, and one of their top priorities, firmly resisted by President Obama, is the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would carry Canadian tar sands to the American South. Tar sands oil is dirty to produce, dirty to refine, and dirty to burn. Good strategy, Republicans! It's so good for America, so good for the world!

Actually, it's not. I featured this article in a recent blog post. Read it to understand the morality upon which mitigation (versus adaptation) of climate change factors is based.

To close, let's look at what Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla), the Republican's point man on climate-change denial, said recently:

Holy crap. What makes this morally corrupt it that it sacrifices today's health and tomorrow's very survival upon the altar of economic advantage for the Republican Party. Its goal is not a better human race but a better bottom line for their cronies. What makes it all the more heinous is that we may win economically in both the short- and long-run by working to mitigate carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Why don't we? Simple: The Republican Party, and that is immoral.

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