“We think what we can be is the canary in the coal mine,” Republican Representative Darryl Issa told reporters.
Congressman Issa’s words are prophetic — evidently he and his colleagues consider themselves to be the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ since they are taking steps with the newly introduced Continuing Resolution to kill off as many canaries in the coal mine to protect Americans from environmental, safety, and other risks. For example, the proposal includes a 22 percent reduction in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, massive cuts in basic science research, budgets slashing seeking to essentially eliminate U.S. government research on climate change, … a true anti-science syndrome agenda.
What is the canary in the coal mine?
Life for an actual canary in a coal mine could be described in three words – short but meaningful. Early coal mines did not feature ventilation systems, so miners would routinely bring a caged canary into new coal seams. Canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide, which made them ideal for detecting any dangerous gas build-ups. As long as the canary in a coal mine kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. A dead canary in a coal mine signalled an immediate evacuation.
Even as gas detection technology improved, some mining companies still relied on the ‘canary in a coal mine’ method well into the 20th century. Other animals were used occasionally, but only the canary had the ability to detect small concentrations of gas and react instinctively.
“A dead canary … signalled [a need for] immediate” action to avoid serious consequences.
A simple tool to avoid having to take action to avoid having to take measures that could disrupt mining? Simply not have canaries in the mine. Not a responsible action in terms of miner safety but if you have an utter disregard for their lives (the consequences of disaster) this is a money saving measure since there isn’t that pesky problem of paying for canaries.
And, this is the path the Republican House members are taking: killing off the canaries that help to protect Americans and American security through learning about environmental risks like coal ash pollution of waterways, Greenhouse Gas emissions and climate change, Global Warming developments and impacts on Americans, ‘Fracking’ chemicals impact on human health, … The Republicans proposed Continuing Resolution would eliminate many canaries.
It is a rather simple, blunt, and reckless result of ideological anti-science attitudes. Have a religious belief that the global scientific community is some form of massive conspiracy to deceive the public? Well, eliminate any funding for climate science research and, evidently, you won’t have to deal with inconvenient truths warning of imminent risks that signal a need for immediate reaction.
Today’s political reality is that Global Warming simply doesn’t exist for House Republicans. Sadly, political reality doesn’t always conform to physical reality; Global Warming is having ever more serious impacts on the rest of U.S. and the Republican efforts to remove the canaries from the coal mine won’t change this reality.
Reactions to the Continuing Resolution / Republican budget plans:
- Jeremy Symons, Sneak Attack on Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, National Wildlife Federation: “Republican leaders of the House Appropriations Committee have instead decided to exploit the budget crisis to pursue a hidden agenda long sought by some of the nation’s biggest polluters.”
- Kate Sheppard, Taking Climate Denial to New Extremes, Mother Jones
- Andrew Leonard, Stupid Republican Budget Tricks, Salon
the GOP position starts with the premise that climate change is a hoax, and then falls back to a secondary line of defense contending that even if the earth is warming it’s too expensive to do anything about it. Failing all else, we should just let the market take care of things. Republicans have even introduced legislation that would overturn the scientific finding that greenhouse gas emissions pose a threat to human health. As for the rising price of oil? Who cares? Again, let the market be the arbiter.
As the world gets hotter, and scientific evidence supporting the theory of human-caused climate change accumulates, Republican politicians have become more united and more adamant in their refusal to accept that we should be making an effort to meet what will probably be the greatest challenge to human welfare since we climbed down from trees and started walking upright on the savannah. It’s an amazing and impressive display, and has no parallel anywhere else in the world.
what Republicans in Congress want for Americans — we can be the canaries in the coal mine who die because they’ve rolled back so many regulations put in place to assure air that’s safe to breathe, water that’s safe to drink, food that’s safe to eat, banks that don’t steal your money and workplaces that don’t kill and maim workers.