Climate change is real.
Republicans in Congress who lead people to believe otherwise are engaged in one of two things. The first is that they’re grossly misinformed. I know what you’re thinking– how could my politician who is not a climatologist, anthropologist, or meteorologist be misinformed in matters of science? The second is that they’re knowingly misleading the public. This would be historic, in that Americans have never before been given “facts” that blatantly defy science. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to drink some soda that definitely won’t make me fat and smoke a cigarette that definitely won’t give me lung cancer.
Here’s the thing: over 70 percent of Americans accept that climate change is a reality, including 60 percent of Republicans. But in the 114th Congress, of the 54 Republican Senators, 38 are climate change deniers, and of the 247 Republicans in the House, 158 of them are climate change deniers. That’s 70 percent of Republicans in the Senate and 61 percent of Republicans in the House. Republicans in Congress are the only governing body in the world that refuses to accept the science behind climate change. Of course, there is always anecdotal evidence to suggest that everything seems just fine when we look outside. Like the fact that Senator James Inhofe can still manage to find a snowball outside in the Washington D.C. winter. Or that New York City is still above water. Or that my freezer is still super cold whenever I open it.
The rest of the world knows that climate change is real, caused by human activity, and perceives it as a serious existential threat to humanity. Over 97% of actively publishing climate scientists agree, as does the AAAS, ACS, AGU, AMA, AMS, APS, GSA, NASA and other acronyms that make for lengthy, credible and easy-to-read lists. As for some non-acronyms, we have the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and nearly 200 more organizations around the world. 195 countries ratified the Paris Agreement. 195 countries can’t agree on borders, religion, civil and human rights, nuclear weapons, incarceration, trade, or access to medicine. Some of those countries can’t even agree on the very existence of some of those other countries. But, somehow, they have all reached a consensus in climate change. Except, of course, for some in that shining city upon a hill. A higher percentage of people in Azerbaijan get the message regarding climate change than Republicans in Congress. Things that Republicans believe in at higher rates: that President Obama is a Muslim (he’s not), that we are in the midst of an ongoing war on Christmas (we’re not), and that there is a magical omnipotent being judging us from the sky (I’ll pick my battles here, so we’ll save this for another time).
These days, the GOP is the party of moral values in the same way that it is the party of Lincoln. Look, if Republicans claim to be the moral majority, fine. I’d be a fool to denounce a party’s pursuit of decency; we could use it these days (or at least another “These Photos Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity” compilation would be nice). But if you’re pro-life, maybe be pro-life beyond, oh, I don’t know, the fetus. There are lots of exciting stages of life after that. And – to the chagrin of the oil lobby and their shills in Congress – those stages typically require clean air and fresh water to survive through.
In China, the face mask has already made for a permanent accessory as smog has reached dangerous levels. Sea levels are rising all along the East Coast in the US. We’re in the midst of the third global coral bleaching event. California is entering the fourth year of the worst drought in centuries. Friday Night Lights was canceled after only its fifth season. The last one is unrelated to climate change but the show was so damn good and I’m still bitter that it didn’t last longer.
To put it bluntly, our grandchildren will be poisoned by the air they breathe. Not feeling the urgency? Let me take it a step further– if we don’t have any grandchildren, who will inherit all of our guns? For the love of God, don’t let our guns go un-inherited! That’s just what Obama wants!
It should not be the scientific community’s job to convince ignorant people that climate change is real. Time spent seeking consensus is time wasted; it would be better spent actually finding actionable solutions and then those aforementioned deniers can thank us later when they’ve got, you know, a habitable planet. If your dentist found a cavity, would you seek a second opinion from your gardener? If not, why wait for Republicans in Congress to change their minds? As long as the dirty energy contributions finance their campaign coffers, I wouldn’t hold my breath. As of August 22, 2016, per FEC contribution data, dirty energy companies donated over $80 million to climate change deniers’ campaigns in Congress. Even Christie Whitman, former head of the EPA from 2001-2003 under Republican President George W. Bush, said, “Not being a scientist, I rely on the ones that are.” I know that big brother is evil incarnate and all, but government regulations aren’t all terrible; some even manage to save lives. If you don’t believe me, go let your children or grandparents drive without car insurance or seat belts.
By virtue of Donald Trump proposing the biggest advocates of the fossil fuel industry to his cabinet, he has made climate change denial a cornerstone of his presidency. Big Oil owns this administration– literally. But if you live in a red state, or even a district with a Republican representative, and believe in wacky, outside-the-box ideas like science, then you can help. It’s as simple as making a call to your representative and demanding that he or she not deny the immediate dangers of climate change nor stifle research providing insights into its effects, support legislation to protect the environment, stand up to the oil lobby’s oversized influence in our halls of government, stand by the Paris Agreement and the Clean Power Plan, and reject the confirmations of Scott Pruit to head the EPA and former ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. You can click here to find the phone number for your representative in Congress. And if you think of yourself as too insignificant for your call to make a difference, consider the millions of disenfranchised voters who banned together to elect Donald Trump. The numbers add up, eventually; it’s just math.
Or is math up for debate now, too?