Monday, December 03, 2018


There's a great deal of climate change denialism in Republican Party, and The Washington Post's Matt Viser says it's all Donald Trump's fault:
As President Trump’s rejection of climate science isolates the United States on the world stage, illustrated by the small U.S. delegation dispatched to this week’s United Nations climate summit in Poland, he has also presided over a transformation in the Republican Party — placing climate change skepticism squarely in the GOP’s ideological mainstream.
Yes, according to Viser, "the two major political parties ... not long ago largely shared a fundamental view on the challenges posed by climate change," but then Trump came along and everything changed.

Examples of this change, according to Viser?
Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said falsely in the lead-up to her campaign that the Earth has started to cool, and argued inaccurately that scientists have not reached a consensus on climate change.

In Florida, which has been pummeled by hurricanes, Sen.-elect Rick Scott has acknowledged rising and warmer seas could be harmful to his state but won’t attribute it to human activity.

And Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who is expected to announce Monday whether he will run for Louisiana governor, told reporters last week that while the Earth may be getting hotter, “I’ve seen many persuasive arguments that it’s just a continuation of the warming up from the Little Ice Age.”
Let's take those one at a time.

Is Trump to blame for Marsha Blackburn's climate denialism? No.
Blackburn rejects the scientific consensus on climate change, saying in 2015 "The jury is still out saying man is the cause for global warming, after the earth started to cool 13 years ago." ... Blackburn asserted that there is "not consensus" in the scientific community on climate change, and that climate change remains "unproven"....

In April 2009, an exchange between Blackburn and former Vice President Al Gore received significant publicity. During a congressional hearing on energy policy, Blackburn asked Gore, "The legislation that we are discussing here today, is that something that you are going to personally benefit from?" ... Gore indicated in response that all income he earned from renewable technology investment went to non-profits.
How about Rick Scott?
... in his first election in 2010, Scott clearly denied the idea of anthropogenic global warming.

“I've not been convinced that there's any man-made climate change,” Scott said then. “Nothing's convinced me that there is.”
And four years later:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott won't say whether he thinks man-made climate change is real and significant.

"I’m not a scientist," Scott said when asked about anthropogenic global warming during a Tuesday stop in Miami.
And this was reported a year after that:
Florida Department of Environmental Protection ... officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting....

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013....

Kristina Trotta, another former DEP employee who worked in Miami, said her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting. “We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said.

This unwritten policy went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011....
John N. Kennedy, when he first ran for Senate in 2016, was a lite denier:
State Treasurer John Kennedy, the campaign’s front-runner according to polls, said he believes that global temperatures are rising but said the evidence does not clearly explain why.

“The problem has to be addressed with market-based solutions rather than government,” Kennedy said, adding, “I support energy conservation, nuclear energy and encouraging technology to burn clean burning coal. I don’t support a cap and trade policy. I don’t support an energy tax. If it’s such a swell idea, let China go first.”
If there's been any change in the Trump era, it's that a few Republicans have inched rightward, from climate change probably exists but I'm against all the recommended remedies to I have my doubts that there's any climate change at all.

What additional evidence does Viser have that this is a Trump-era phenomenon?
An analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund found that 61 percent of Republicans in Congress have in some way raised doubts about climate change, deflected the question, claimed that the climate is always changing, or questioned the extent to which humans contribute to climate change.
Yes, but that 61 percent is up from 56 percent in January 2015, when the Center for American Progress found that there were 170 Republican climate change deniers in Congress. (That, of course, was several months before Trump announced his run for president.)

I don't know why Viser wants to deny the evidence that an overwhelming number of Republicans were deniers before Trump came along and would have beendeniers if Trump weren't president. On one hand, I suppose it's a good thing -- the media ignored climate change before Trump was elected (there was barely any coverage of the issue in 2016, and the media figures who moderated the three general-election presidential debates asked no questions about the subject), but if denialism is now associated with the guy the media loves to hate, maybe the climate will get some attention.

On the other hand, if GOP denialism is largely seen as Trump's fault, Republicans might start getting away with it again as soon as Trump is out of office. Republicans used to slide by on this issue because most of them knew how to falsely appear rational while stonewalling. It's harder to do when the head of your party is repeating every conspiracy theory he's ever been exposed to, but as soon as Trump as gone the GOP will probably go back to euphemism and misdirection, and get away with it once again, while the planet burns.

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