Sadly, with each day, Republican Anti-Science Syndrome suffering is becoming ever more pronounced. While the attacks on science, scientific institutions, and scientific authority go well beyond this, Republican politicians are increasingly divorced from scientific institutions and knowledge in the realm of climate science.
There are, it seems, too basic groupings to consider: Climate Zombies and Climate Peacocks.
- Climate Zombies, as laid out by environmental blogger R.L. Miller, are people who stake out positions fundamentally at odds with science, stating bluntly material which is easily disprovable. They seem to rely on sound-bites from talking heads and pseudo-science rather than caring, it seems, whether their comments can stand up to any serious scrutiny.
- Climate Peacocks, as defined by the Wonkroom’s Brad Johnson, “claim to care about science, energy reform, and the environment, but have yet to find solutions to the threat of climate change.” The Climate Peacocks make noise about climate change being a serious problem but collaborate to inhibit real action from occurring.
The Climate Peacocks are a richly bi-partisan world, with “moderates” like the soon-to-be-retired Blanche Lincoln, oily Mary Landrieu, and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill all finding it too difficult to support real action to reduce emissions even while — to various degrees — agreeing climate change is real and is a problem. There are few, however, on the Democratic Party side who take their misinformation and deceit to the level of directly misrepresenting academic studies and refusing to back off the misrepresentations when challenged as was seen with the Republican House deceptions as to the costs of climate mitigation action.
Climate Zombies, on the other hand, seem a much more partisan issue as seen in polling that shows fewer and fewer Republicans listening to science about climate change and the increasing number of openly ignorant statements about climate change coming from Republican politicians.
It has now reached the point where there is only one significant Republican Senate candidate — Mike Castle — of Delaware who does not dispute the basic scientific consensus that we must act (aggressively) to mitigate climate change or else face potential catastrophic climate chaos. And, well, polling suggests that Castle’s days as a Senate candidate might be numbered. Even politicians once (strongly) supportive of mitigation action, like John McCain and Mark Kirk, have retreated from those positions. In other words, the Republican Party looks to be migrating from Climate Peacocks to Climate Zombies.
For a variety of reasons, ideological (distaste for government action) to religious (humanity can’t impact the planet) to fossil-foolish funding (donations, anyone), seemingly deliberate ignorance on basic scientific issues is becoming a core Republican Party attribute.
As with the lies about the costs of climate legislation, the deceit about and open ignorance of climate science is easily countered with accurate information but few Americans are seeing any ‘objective’ media analysis of this ignorant truthiness. Sadly, few (if any) in the traditional media seem to be noticing the Republican Party disdain for scientific institutions and scientists’ work. And, if they are noticing, very few believe it is their responsibility to report on the Republican disconnect from scientific knowledge.
Simply put, climate change — the science about what is happening to the globe and humanity’s role in driving climate change — shouldn’t be an ideological issue. Where politics should come in is not to the question of the science but in discussing and determining what (if anything) we should about what scientists’ work is telling us. As I’ve written before,
The science is clear about the overall threat, even if specific details and specific trendlines into the future are less clear. The threat is clear — if one is open to science and knowledge. The “battle”, the political discussion space should have long been: what are the best paths forward, what are the best options / policies / regulations for moving us (the US and all of us) toward an Energy Smart future.
That the political parties, ideologies, and individuals would have different perspectives and priorities in addressing what we should (or shouldn’t) do in terms of climate mitigation and adaptation is absolutely normal and to be expected.
Sadly, however, science is a partisan issue.
And, even more distressingly, survival of the planetary system’s ability to support human civilization has become a partisan issue.