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Republicans, Climate Change, And The New Reality

12/27/2016 04:03 pm ET | Updated Dec 27, 2016
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First off, let me be clear: The Republican Party bears responsibility for Donald Trump becoming the 45th President of the United States. The Republican Party nominated him. The party leaders enabled him. There were many complex social, political, and economic forces that produced the Trump catastrophe, but no amount of disassembling and deflecting will change the fact that the Republican Party made this happen.

So now the country (and the world) seem to be awaiting the consequences in a mental state sometimes called the "delusion of reprieve," where condemned people cling to the illusion that they might be reprieved at the very last minute. We hear news about Trump's appointments to his White House and cabinet, his constant stream of petulant Tweets, and his cavalier attitude toward the world's deadliest weapons and say: "Everything will yet be well."

Through his public statements and personnel choices Trump has made it clear that he rejects the science of climate change. I've always believed that people who dismiss science in one area shouldn't be able to benefit from science in others. If Trump and his cohort believe the science of global warming is bogus then they shouldn't be allowed to use the science of the Internet for their Twitter accounts, the science of global positioning for their drones, or the science of nuclear power for their weaponry.

The oil, coal, and gas companies use the same scientific methodology to extract resources that climate scientists use to confirm the planetary disaster that awaits us. It's pretty crazy to see the U.S. government abandon science when it conflicts with corporate profits, while Trump's donors from Big Ag, Big Banks, and Big Pharma deploy science to patent new life forms, engage in "high frequency" trading, and invent new drugs.

It's not just the people around Trump who reject the science of climate change. The leadership of the Republican Party -- from House Speaker Paul Ryan to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to the chairs of the key science and technology committees in Congress, to the Republicans' favorite think tanks -- all share the fossil fuel industry's preference that the U.S. government does nothing to address the most serious planetary crisis humanity has ever faced.

The Republicans' cravenness on climate change is clear. After claiming for years that the science was "inconclusive" (or a "hoax"), they held the public position that they opposed any concerted action to reduce greenhouse gases because China and India would never go along. Then, in 2015, when China and India signed on to the Paris Climate accords, Mitch McConnell and the Republican leaders began telling foreign governments that the Republicans would fight against any international deal on climate change in any case.

The Trump Republicans not only reject science when it conflicts with their donors' bottom line, they've moved to rebuffing "facts," scientific or otherwise. The Trump surrogate, Scottie Nell Hughes, unwittingly confirmed a half-century's worth of media criticism when she told CNN:

" . . . And so one thing that has been interesting this entire campaign season to watch is that people that say facts are facts--they're not really facts. Everybody has a way--it's kind of like looking at ratings, or looking at a glass of half-full water. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth, or not truth. There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts."

The cable news shows and even middlebrow fare on NPR and PBS don't have the tools to deal with Ms. Hughes's Orwellian assertions or Trump's brash mendacity. They generally greet with a yawn this epochal shift that is taking place in our nation's political discourse, blandly interpreting it as a sign of the times brought to us by social media - blah, blah, Zzzzzzzzz.

We're now entering a period where the U.S. military's 22nd Century weapons technology is in the hands of those whose mentality hasn't really left the Bronze Age. Say what you will about the deficiencies among the Democratic leadership (and there are many), at least the Democrats are trying to remain in the fact-based world and accept the validity of scientific inquiry

"The challenge to authority that science presents," writes Shawn Otto in The War on Science (2016), "is one of the many reasons why it has flourished in free, democratic societies, and why those same societies have fallen when they have turned their backs on the freedom science requires in favor of authoritarianism." (p. 52)

Climate change is real. Facts matter. Ketchup is not a "vegetable side dish." Nuclear missiles are not "peace keepers." Sending prisoners to be tortured in foreign lands is not "extraordinary rendition." African-American youths are not "super-predators." Torture is not "enhanced interrogation." The estate tax is not a "death tax." War is not peace. Freedom is not slavery. Ignorance is not strength.

Who knows what the propaganda function of the State will look like under President Trump? But whatever it becomes it will have the newest most technologically advanced tools at its disposal to twist facts and alter "reality." We haven't seen anything yet.

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