Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018
Business

"Just a lot of alarmism": Trump's skepticism about climate science is reflected in the GOP

Elected Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee falsely declared in the run-up to her campaign that the Earth had begun to cool down, and falsely claimed that scientists had not reached a consensus on climatic changes.

Elected Senator Scott Scott acknowledged in Florida that warmer, warmer seas could hurt his state but not attribute it to human activity.

And Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who is expected to announce Monday when he will be running for governor of Louisiana, told reporters last week that even though the Earth was warming up, "I've seen many persuasive arguments that it would only prolong the warming. " from the small ice age. "

While President Trump's rejection of climate science isolates the United States on the world stage, as illustrated by the small US delegation sent to this week's UN climate summit in Poland, he has also presided over a transformation of the Republican Party – placing squarely skepticism in the face of climate change. in the ideological current of the GOP.

Where the last Republican President, George W. Bush, acknowledged that the Earth was warming and that "an increase in greenhouse gases caused by man contributes to the problem", the dominant vision of the GOP expressed during This year's election campaign, adopted by many members of Congress, is based on the false premise that climate science is an open question.


President Trump introduces Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) At a rally in Chattanooga last month, Tennessee Blackburn, elected to the US Senate, said there was no scientific consensus on climate change . (Mark Humphrey / AP)

The small number of votes favorable to science has been largely stifled.

The House Climate Solutions Caucus, co-founded in 2016 by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) And once considered a catalyst for climate-friendly legislation, lost 24 of its 45 Republican members because of their retirement or their electoral defeat – including Curbelo. An analysis by the Liberal Center for the Action Fund for American Progress found that 61% of Republicans in Congress had doubted climate change, dismissed the issue, said the climate was constantly changing or calling into question the degree of human contribution to climate change.

As a result, the two main political parties, who recently shared a fundamental perspective on the challenges posed by climate change, are now competing for the credibility of science and facts – a fight that promises to be a problem potentially decisive for the 2020 presidential campaign.

"There are some things that have started to become a consensus, Republicans have said the climate is changing, and we will have to do something about it," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, one of the leading economic advisers Bush and the Republican presidential candidate of 2008, John McCain. "The president's position makes the situation more difficult, because he denies that it has even changed. . . . This puts us back in a stalemate again. "

The impact of skeptics on US politics has been exposed in recent days. Trump ignored the 1,600-page report from his administration describing the serious threats of climate change. Then, over the weekend, his team spoke in a joint statement issued by leaders of the group of 20 over the weekend, setting a separate US position on climate goals and reaffirming the withdrawal United States of Paris agreement on climate.

The rising temperature of the Earth is not disputed by most scientists or other world leaders. A 2013 report analyzing scientific articles on climate change found that among the articles that took a stand on the subject, 97% subscribed to the idea that humans are causing global warming.

The planet warmed by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit from the end of the 19th century and scientists say that unless carbon emissions decline sharply in the coming years, the worst consequences of climate change will be inevitable.

Pope Francis called for a "revolution" to fight climate change, saying the consensus was clear and that "catastrophic predictions can no longer be contradicted by either irony or disdain".

But after the US government released its long-awaited climate assessment on November 23, most Republicans followed Trump's advance by downplaying catastrophic warnings of more forest fires and floods, damage to human health and adverse consequences for the US economy.

"Our climate is still changing, and we see these movements flowing back in time," said Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) about CNN's "State of the Union."

Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) Said that while the report is important, there is too much alarmism around climate science.

"I think the real question, though, becomes what are you doing about it? Because you can not legislate or regulate your way in the past, "he said in" Fox News Sunday. "" At the present time, you do not hear many people who consider climate like No. 1, you do not do it. Do not hear many of them suggest constructive and innovative solutions for the future, it is usually an alarmist. "

Polls suggest that there have been movements among the electorate. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans believe that the global climate is changing, according to a recent study from the University of Monmouth, up 49% from three years ago.

Among Democrats, 92% say they are affected by climate change and 82% consider it "very serious". Of the self-employed, 78% believe it.

"President Trump is becoming a real caricature of the climate controversy," said Bob Inglis, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, who now heads a group called Republic, which is trying to convince conservatives to fight against climate change. "The public is starting to understand and understand the problem, and it persists in this superstitious denial of data."

Inglis said he has witnessed some positive signs in recent days, such as Senator Thom Tillis (RC), who once denied climate change and urged both sides to fight it, but also to justify his pessimism.

"There are still disappointments along the way," Inglis said. "But I think that's how you try to do something really big. As in the case of civil rights, it was two steps forward, one step back. This is what we are facing here. "

Many who questioned science, including Blackburn and Kennedy, did not respond to requests for comment.

Asked about Scott's reluctance to talk about climate change – he often replied: "I'm not a scientist", and the environmental section of his campaign site on the environment never mentions the climate change. A spokesman highlighted his efforts as governor of Florida.

Scott supported increasing funding from the state's Department of Environmental Protection and implemented a $ 3.6 million program aimed at preparing coastal communities "for the effects of the climate change, in particular rising sea levels ".

When asked in October whether Hurricane Michael had demonstrated the effects of climate change, he seemed to recognize that sea temperatures were rising but qualified the cause as inexplicable.

"This is what we know: this storm was very fast. And the waters were hot, "he said. "Do we all know why it happened? None of us know why it happened.

Danielle Pletka, a foreign policy expert with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, was criticized last week after appearing in NBC's "Meet the Press," during which she questioned climate change and said, " We should not be hysterical. "

In an interview, she said she was taken aback by critics, some of whom claimed they were wrong to claim that the world had just experienced two of the coldest years since the 1980s. PolitiFact, noting that they were actually among the hottest, called his complaint false.

"I never realized that it was a problem that made people mentally incompetent, to the limit – hysteria is not the right word, it's worse than that," Pletka said. "I do not know if everything is related to the dislike of Trump and Trump's disturbance that has affected so many people."

Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-S .C.), Who has become a trusted ally of Trump since running for president in 2016, has consistently tried to push his party to fight climate change. He worked in 2010 with then-Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) In an attempt to enact comprehensive legislation on climate and energy, an effort that ultimately failed. Graham has approved a carbon tax and challenged his party to no longer give credit to remote people who question science.

"This is a question you have to ask everyone who comes forward as a Republican: what is the Republican Party's environmental policy?" Graham said on CNN during his 2016 presidential campaign. "When I ask this question I have an empty look. "

Graham did not comment on Trump's response to the recent climate assessment and he declined a request for an interview on the subject. His spokesman said his opinions had not changed.

Elected Senator Mitt Romney (Utah) also sounded the alarm within his party, saying that he believed that climate change was happening and that humans were a factor. During his campaign in the Senate in August, he said the changing climate would make forest fires more common and more dangerous in Utah.

In a speech to students in St. Louis last year, Romney said he was "concerned about the anti-scientific attitude" of his party members.

"I think there is climate change and that humans are contributing substantially. I am therefore open to any ideas that may be able to answer this problem, "he said. "The idea of ​​doing nothing is, in my opinion, a recipe for disaster. . . it will take presidential leadership. "

But over the past week, Romney has not commented on Trump's comments or the climate assessment that has been published. He refused the interview requests.

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