Tuesday, December 1, 2015

When Republican Science Denialism Goes Too Far: Making the Paris Talks Irrelevant

This is what our future dystopia looks like, Beijing-style.

The U.S. has been overtaken by China as the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases and wants to do something about it. The picture above -- brought on by the coming of winter and the need to burn coal for heat -- is the very image of a dystopia even a country hellbent on out-producing America wants to escape. That's why China, in advance of the Paris talks on climate change announced major concessions in the battle to save the planet. They will cut carbon emissions and so will the U.S., but only if we step up and lead.

So it goes with India and the rest of the developing world. President Obama has gone to the talks armed with pledges he made to lower carbon by 28%, using only regulatory tools at his disposal. A recalcitrant Republican Congress has vowed to scuttle any success Obama might achieve.
However, Republicans in Congress said Obama would be unable to deliver on his commitment to the UN. “The Obama Administration’s pledge to the United Nations today will not see the light of day,” Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who heads the Senate’s environment and public works committee, and denies the existence of man-made climate change.
 What great partners the GOP have become in this life-and-death struggle. I've always felt environmentalism should be a central tenet of American conservatism, but I guess I'd be wrong.

GOP Threatens To Disrupt Obama's Climate Agenda At Paris Summit

Republicans are using the year-end budget battle to block funding for a program crucial to the upcoming talks.

WASHINGTON -- Republicans in Congress are threatening to disrupt a key piece of President Barack Obama's pledge to combat global warming, just days before world leaders begin climate negotiations in Paris. 
Obama, with teams of advisers and cabinet members, arrives in Paris next week, hoping to wrap up years-long negotiations with nearly 200 countries with a sweeping agreement that sets specific goals to stave off a catastrophic increase in global temperature.
But back in Washington, Republicans are working to prevent a deal, warning Obama they will use any tool necessary to block funding he has promised to help poor nations fight climate change.
Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) pressed the president in a letter to be “forthcoming” with developing nations, telling them that Congress hasn't approved the $3 billion the U.S. has promised to the fund.
“The president, but certainly officials overseas, need to know that they shouldn’t count on the money,” Barrasso told The Huffington Post in a brief interview. “Bring it to Congress and come clean with the folks in Paris that he has to bring that back here to the Senate to get approval before they’re going to see any money.”
With little to leverage, Republicans see the Green Climate Fund as a critical chord they can sever to undermine a world climate agreement. The United Nations-controlled account, which helps developing countries combat rising sea levels, drought, and other extreme weather related to climate change, is a critical element of the Paris talks.
Choking off the fund may sow doubts among countries like India, which need help transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Bringing India to the negotiating table depends heavily on industrialized nations contributing to the fund.
That's right, we can't bring India, Brazil, and other developing nations to the table for real cuts that can keep us from raising temperatures beyond the 2.6 degrees F. scientists says is the maximum global warming we can sustain without catastrophe.

Thought experiment: Name a prominent Republican leader or 2016 presidential candidate who stands by those attending Paris and the goals they wish to achieve. You can't do it.

Are we screwed, as a country, as a planet? With climate-change denialists at every turn in halls of Congress, we very well may be.

And just wait until all the methane escapes the permafrost we never thought would melt.

Massive crater in Siberia brought on by collapsing permafrost and methane escaping.

Rarely is the world presented with a disaster that all should join together to fight. It's the real World War III, a war we cannot afford to lose. The time for Republican recalcitrance is long past. Denialism must be rejected. And yet... It's too horrid to contemplate.

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