May 11, 2014 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: Cold shoulder for global warming

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The following sentence from the Washington State Republican Party Platform explains why climate change doesn’t begat policy change: “Climate change occurs naturally and warming from human generated greenhouse gases has yet to be proven.”

So it doesn’t matter what the mainstream climate scientists who wrote the National Climate Assessment say. Just as it doesn’t matter what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said. Republican politicians aren’t going to act, because they took a vote and “What, me worry?” won.

Once you take that position, there’s no point in discussing a carbon tax, cap-and-trade or any activity that would mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases. And yet, many elected “skeptics” leave themselves an escape hatch just in case the scientists are right. They pretend to be engaged on an issue they believe to be insignificant.

For instance, Gov. Jay Inslee recently appointed a task force to find ways for the state to reduce carbon emissions. Republicans responded with a variety of complaints: Business interests snubbed; not bipartisan; end run around the Legislature; need more specifics, etc. This focus on the process masks an underlying indifference to the issue.

A craftier but still disingenuous complaint is that climate change is a global problem, so it makes no sense for individual states to act. Besides, if Washington gets out ahead of the other states, it will become less competitive. So let’s just turn this over to Congress, so that all states are on a level playing field.

Sure. What could possibly go wrong when the “not a problem” party controls the House of Representatives? Even if you could find a Republican or two who might quietly acknowledge some measure of man’s influence on the climate, they’re apt to say: “This is a global problem. If China doesn’t act but we do, we’ll be at a competitive disadvantage.”

It’s no accident that all roads lead to inaction.

So instead of proposing solutions to climate change, they write bills to block them. Then any action to regulate greenhouse gases is called a job killer. Because, you know, it’s fun to put people out of work for no good reason. I’m all for listening to solutions that don’t affect the economy or jobs, but you won’t hear any. After all, what problem?

This head-in-the-sand approach is only getting worse. The 2008 national GOP platform directly addressed climate change and reducing fossil fuel demand. The Republican nominee for president, U.S. Sen. John McCain, was a vocal proponent of cap-and-trade. The latest platform erases that discussion and replaces it with shrill denunciations of cap-and-trade or any regulatory schemes. It invokes a “war on coal.” Then it bashes climate scientists, saying: “We must restore scientific integrity to our public research institutions and remove political incentives from publicly funded research.”

Remember this the next time you hear calls for “bipartisanship” or “common sense” approaches. It’s just hot air.

Best evidence. The biggest insult to climate scientists must be the breezy claim that natural forces, such as the sun, might be implicated in rising global temperatures. In other words, the detectives on the global warming case have dismissed as a suspect that giant orb in the sky that heats the planet.

Strange as it may seem, they did think of that, and measurements show no correlation between the intensity of the sun and the rise in global temperatures. Other natural causes, such as volcanoes, don’t explain it either. And the warming isn’t part of a “natural cycle” of undetectable forces. When the planet warms, there’s a reason.

The best explanation, by far, is the massive amount of carbon dioxide that wasn’t in the atmosphere before the Industrial Age began. And, believe it or not, the greenhouse effect takes it from there.

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.


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