05/25/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Luddites Live On

Ohio Representative John Boehner this past weekend did his best to resuscitate the early 19th century British social movement , known as the Luddites, who were steadfastly opposed to technological progress and change in the textile industry, only the modern day iteration seems to be refusal to even attempt to confront the overwhelming scientific evidence surrounding climate change and global warming. Worse yet, he does not even seem to grasp the most basic elements of the issue.

It is difficult to tell whether the flatulence coming from a cow's rear-end is more potent than that coming out of Rep. John Boehner's mouth, but let me take a guess -- the winner in this instance is the representative from Ohio, the loser unfortunately is the American people who expect at least a semblance of intelligent debate from our elected representatives. After all, they are paid by the taxpayers to take advantage of the vast resources and information available to them and their staff in order to reach semi-literate and defensible policy position. In this instance he did not earn his pay.

One need not have serious grounding in science to understand the difference between methane and carbon dioxide. In my extensive travels to high schools and colleges and, yes, even elementary schools, discussing the climate crisis and global warming, awareness of the distinction and recognition of the difference between the two is practically universally known and understood at all grade levels. Thus, when I saw and heard the conversation with George Stephanopolous this weekend I was literally stunned.

The distinguished gentleman from Ohio, in his exuberance to hear himself talk, and in his excitement to show the viewing public exactly which end of the cow he has studied in depth, clearly illustrated both the intellectual laziness and science-averse political demagoguery that right wing conservatives find comfort with.

At the same time that conservatives now decry the cost of government policies to future generations, despite the abysmal record of the past eight years when they held the effective power of the purse, climate change is an issue that will more deeply affect future generations' quality of life and economic prospects than any other issue I can think of, yet the science is routinely ignored in favor of pseudo-populist political babble.

You see it is not argument or debate over differences between informed judgments or opinions that are at issue here, but rather the absence of serious discussion due to the inability of Mr. Boehner and his allies to either comprehend or to investigate the facts.

And yes, words are important. Hence, his use of the word "comical" to denigrate near universal scientific acceptance of the relationship between carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and global warming, between human-induced burning of fossil fuels and climate change, is "tragic".

C'mon, John, what is expected here is a serious discussion about a serious issue. The nonchalance of your commitment to preparation and homework and your dimwitted approach to appreciating the basics of what I will concede is a complicated and complex but not totally incomprehensible set of interrelationships is appalling. Your effort would not pass muster in a third grade classroom.

Further, it demeans all those constituents and citizens who are struggling to reestablish respect and confidence in a system of government they feel must be responsive to and interested in their posterity.

Your job is to advance policies that will make a positive difference for all Americans, not to pander to the Luddites who are fearful that new technologies and scientific development will disturb a status quo that they have prospered under and wish to hold on to. The inability to move into the future relegates one to atrophy in the past, and future generations will not look kindly upon such intransigence. Get your facts straight and for goodness sakes open your mind to the notion that you are capable and willing to learn.

So, to borrow a phrase from the past -- be a part of the solution, not the problem.