I know that this sounds like a self-evidently stupid question. Of course the Republicans did not "cause" the specific monster snow storm that pounded the South and Midwest over the last two days. After all, there have been monster snow storms in the Midwest as far back as anyone can remember.
No matter that some prominent Republican voices have in the past argued that big storms were in fact Acts of God intended to punish America for its "liberal" ways.
Right after Hurricane Katrina, the Reverend John Hagee -- at the time a leading voice of the Republican Christian Right -- told NPR's Terry Gross that God caused Hurricane Katrina to wipe out New Orleans because it had a gay pride parade the week before and was filled with sexual sin.
Using that logic, Democrats could contend that this monster snow storm was God's retribution for the election of the Republican majority in the House.
Of course, both of those ideas are just plain dumb.
No doubt it won't be long before we hear some equally stupid comment by a prominent Republican leader arguing that all of the snow this year "proves" there is no "global warming."
Last year during the big DC snow storm, Tea Party Senate leader Jim DeMint tweeted: "It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries 'uncle'."
And this year there have been some pretty big storms. On January 11, CNN reported there was snow on the ground in 49 of America's 50 states. If anything, it sounds like the beginnings of a new "Ice Age" -- right?
Wrong. Earlier this month, the Earth Policy Institute reported that:
Topping off the warmest decade in history, 2010 experienced a global average temperature of 14.63 degrees Celsius (58.3 degrees Fahrenheit), tying 2005 as the hottest year in 131 years of record keeping.
This news will come as no surprise to residents of the 19 countries that experienced record heat in 2010. Belarus set a record of 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 degrees Fahrenheit) on August 6 and then broke it by 0.2 degrees Celsius just one day later. A 47.2-degree Celsius (117.0-degree Fahrenheit) spike in Burma set a record for Southeast Asia as a whole. And on May 26, 2010, the ancient city of Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan hit 53.5 degrees Celsius (128.3 degrees Fahrenheit)--a record not only for the country but for all of Asia. In fact, it was the fourth hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere.
The earth's temperature is not only rising, it is rising at an increasing rate. From 1880 through 1970, the global average temperature increased roughly 0.03 degrees Celsius each decade. Since 1970, that pace has increased dramatically, to 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade. Two thirds of the increase of nearly 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the global temperature since the 1880s has occurred in the last 40 years. And 9 of the 10 warmest years happened in the last decade.
What's more, it turns out that global warming does in fact cause more frequent, more intense storms of all sorts -- including snow storms.
Increasing ambient global temperatures provide the two major ingredients of storms: energy and moisture. Fundamentally storms result from energy in the atmosphere -- the more heat, the more energy. The precipitation associated with storms results from increased levels of moisture in the atmosphere. Increased temperatures cause more evaporation of liquid water into the atmosphere.
A 2007 report of the UN Sponsored, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), found that water vapor in the global atmosphere has already increased by about 5% during the 20th century, and 4% since 1970.
In fact, there is a clear consensus in the scientific community that the warming of the climate will, in fact, increase the number and severity of storms.
So while it is wrong to say that Republican policies actually caused the current massive snow storm, it is true that their so-far successful attempts to stall serious policies to stem the discharge of greenhouse gases are contributing to the number and severity of future storms.
But let's be clear. The culprits in this drama are not mainly the anti-science, know-nothings who don't believe in evolution and think the world was created in seven days. The corporations that systematically attempt to cast doubt on the reality of climate change know exactly what they are doing. The huge oil companies that stand to benefit by delaying action to curb greenhouse gas emissions are just as aware of the consequences of their actions as the tobacco companies that fought curbs on smoking. Frankly they don't care about the science -- or the consequences of their actions. They will do whatever they need to in order to make gigantic sums of money.
Yesterday, Exxon-Mobil reported that its fourth-quarter profit has soured 53% to $9.25 billion, due mainly to increases in crude oil prices. To put this into prospective, if Exxon-Mobil made profit at the same rate for a year, they would make $38 billion in profit. That profit -- from just one company -- is about half as much as the Republicans say they want to cut from the entire Federal Budget for our nation of over 300 million people.
Most oil analysts think that oil prices are quite high given the continued weakness in the world economy. Part of that seems to be the effect of Wall Street speculators that have once again driven up the price.
But over the long haul, the oil companies have bet that the value of their reserves will skyrocket as fossil fuels grow more and more scarce. They have every incentive in the world to slow the conversion to clean energy and to keep the world dependent on their ever more valuable oil reserves for as long as possible. The longer they delay action, the more valuable their oil becomes.
So the oil companies have purchased the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement. The deal is simple: they provide massive amounts of money to assure the election of Republicans. The Republicans do everything in their power to prevent limitations on green-house gas emissions -- or anything else that might free our economy from dependence on oil.
Their next move will come shortly, as the Republicans will do their best to get Congress to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of the ability to limit the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
They will argue that by limiting their right to pollute our air with the greenhouse gasses that cause global warming, the EPA is costing "jobs." That, of course, is simply baloney. The jobs of the future are all about the new energy economy of the future. Other countries are racing ahead in developing the new energy infrastructure that will make them more competitive in the 21st Century. But the oil companies don't really care about American jobs. The only thing the oil company executives care about is their own bottom line - their multi-million dollars salaries and stock deals - their yachts and corporate jets and thousand-dollar dinners at the best restaurants.
And their partners, the Republicans, don't care about American jobs either. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has made it crystal clear: all they care about is defeating Barack Obama. The best way to achieve that goal is to do everything they can to stand in the way of new jobs and gorge themselves on oil company money.
We can't let them succeed. As important as it is, it's not just the climate that is at stake if the Republicans take back the White House and once again control the House and Senate - it's our future.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com.
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