Want to understand why the Republican Party has tacked hard in the past few years away from science and towards "heads in the sand" denialism on the issue of anthropogenic climate change? A new article by National Journal explains it extremely well. A few highlights:
- One Republican, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, is "smart and has a background in science, but he also represents the country’s top coal-mining state—and scientific studies show that coal pollution is one of the primary causes of climate change. Any policy to curb climate change would likely hurt Wyoming’s economy."
- "What changed? Not the scientific evidence. In fact, recent reports from the National Academy of Sciences show that the data and consensus on the principles of climate change are stronger than ever."
- "Here’s what has changed for Republican politicians: The rise of the tea party, its influence in the Republican Party, its crusade against government regulations, and the influx into electoral politics of vast sums of money from energy companies and sympathetic interest groups."
- "In the 2010 elections alone, the top five conservative and pro-industry outside groups and political action committees—including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Karl Rove-backed PAC American Crossroads, which have close ties to fossil-fuel interests—spent a combined $105 million to support GOP candidates (compared with a combined $8 million that the top five environmental groups spent to back Democrats)."
- "Among the most influential of the new breed of so-called super PACs is the tea party group Americans for Prosperity, founded by David and Charles Koch, the principal owners of Koch Industries, a major U.S. oil conglomerate."
So, there you have it: dirty energy money, more dirty energy money, and lots more dirty energy money, all raining upon Republican legislators, with the goal of preventing action on what's arguably the most pressing problem facing humanity -- global, man-made climate change. In addition, the dirty energy industry is fighting to keep the billions of dollars per year in explicit, taxpayer-funded government subsidies, not to mention the enormous implicit subsidies it receives, every year.
Finally, the dirty energy industry is hoping to slow down or even destroy the rising clean energy industry, which poses a huge competitive threat to the century-long reign of Kings Coal and Oil. If they destroy the planet in the process of making their record profits, apparently that's fine with them. It's also fine with the politicians they've bought, many of whom know better, and in fact held contrary positions just a few years ago. The question is, can we fight back against this destructive, insidious dirty energy influence and move towards a bright new future of clean energy and a healthy environment? In many ways, that will be the #1 test for humanity in the 21st century.