Deny ‘Til You Fry: The Republican Plan for Climate Change

The conclusions of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ought to be banner headlines everywhere, but we should be grateful it’s made it onto front pages at all. The basic things to know:

  • Climate change is happening, and there is no question humans are causing it.
  • Changes are bigger and happening faster than predicted, and there’s no going back to the climate we had in the recent past.
  • We are locked into 30 years of worsening climate impacts no matter what the world does.
  • There is still a window in which humans can alter the climate path. An all-hands-on-deck effort could limit warming after 2050.  Anything less risks catastrophe. Nobody wants to say how bad it could get.

From the Washington Post:

Each of the past four decades has been successively warmer than any that preceded it, dating to 1850. Humans have warmed the climate at a rate unparalleled since before the fall of the Roman Empire. To find a time when the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere changed this much this fast, you’d need to rewind 66 million years to the meteor that killed the dinosaurs.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen to levels not seen in 2 million years, the authors state. The oceans are turning acidic. Sea levels continue to rise. Arctic ice is disintegrating. Weather-related disasters are growing more extreme and affecting every region of the world.

If the planet warms much more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels — a scenario all but certain at the current pace of emissions — such change could trigger the inexorable collapse of the Greenland ice sheet and more than six feet of sea-level rise that could swamp coastal communities. Coral reefs would virtually disappear.

Heat waves that are already deadly will become as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit hotter. Parts of the Earth that currently slow the pace of warming — such as the ocean absorbing excess heat and clouds reflecting sunlight back into space — will become less able to help us.

So it’s that bad. Oh, and if you’ve always wanted to see a live coral reef, don’t wait too long.

Among other things, the fossil fuel industry has got to go. Now. We no longer have time for some extended period of incremental tweaks that would wean us all off fossil fuels gradually and give the oil and gas corporations a soft landing. There may have been a time for that, but it’s past.

And, of course, the action that needs to be taken will require strong political will and hard choices that will piss off a lot of powerful constituencies. So we’re doomed.

In a summer of rolling climate disasters that have made that fact viscerally obvious, politicians around the world have already started offering platitudes about the need for “action” and “ambition.” Yet they mostly haven’t called for the rapid shift off fossil fuels that the report indicates is necessary.

It’s not that politicians in powerful countries have done nothing in the past two decades. The problem, rather, is that where they’ve done anything at all, it has tended to be the wrong thing, emphasizing subtle market tweaks and shiny new technologies instead of the core work of decarbonization: getting off fossil fuels as quickly as possible. There is not some reserve of sensible climate leadership ready to be unleashed if Republicans weren’t standing in the way. Happy talk about net-zero pledges and climate leadership in the last few years obscure decades of bipartisan speeding down the wrong track, toward an imagined future where polluters and the planet can both make out well in coming decades.

But there are Republicans in the way. And a big part of current Republican triballism is that nothing must be done to address climate change. They’ve spent years mocking the word “green” and tying climate change to socialism and gay marriage and abortion and hating on Jesus. They are determined to deny until they fry.

See Philip Bump at WaPo:

It’s a grim coincidence that the IPCC report was released on the same day that the Senate is poised to approve a compromise infrastructure package that scaled back President Biden’s proposals for addressing global warming. The package under consideration has significant components that will increase a transition away from current levels of fossil-fuel consumption, including improving the electrical grid and improving infrastructure for electric vehicles. But climate  activists and legislators focused on the issue lament where it comes up short.

And yet — amazingly and predictably — one of the key arguments being made against the bill by far-right opponents is that it addresses climate change at all.

And there we are. Anything Democrats want to pass isn’t enough, but we can’t even get “not enough” past Republicans.

Bump reminds us how the Right turned the Green New Deal into a straw man joke about flatulent cows and banning hamburgers. They did this because they hate its progressive-left sponsors.

When Biden first announced his infrastructure proposal, it did mirror the Green New Deal in one way: It included large-scale efforts to both address and prepare for climate change and its impacts on the country. Key pieces of Biden’s plan and the Green New Deal were both about rebuilding literally and metaphorically because of how the world is changing. As his proposal went through a process of bipartisan negotiation, big parts of that effort were excised, shunted to a unipartisan reconciliation bill that’s being moved in parallel to the bipartisan effort.

But for Republicans, the impulse to turn the reconciliation bill into another joke is too strong. And let me say that Hell is too good for any Democrat who fails to vote for it.

If this were a disaster movie, we’d be at the point that scientists announce the giant meteor is only two weeks’ away from striking earth, and everyone is out in the streets screaming. But this is real life, and instead of a giant meteor we’re facing climate chantge. Most people don’t believe the scientists and, anyway, we’re fighting over mask mandates in schools. Don’t bother us about an existential threat to our species.

Yeah, real life is worse.

7 thoughts on “Deny ‘Til You Fry: The Republican Plan for Climate Change

  1. I am glad I am old and might be spared the worst of it, but the younger generations are in for a cataclysmic upheaval. Horrible. 

    • And it seems to be the people with children and grandchildren, so they have a stake in the future, who are going "LA LA LA LA LA I AM NOT LISTENING IT WILL ALL TURN OUT OK IT ALWAYS DOES."

  2. If only we had better gauges of the performance of the CEO's/CFO's of major corporations than primarily focusing on company profitability, investor/share-holder profit, and market share – and executive compensation, which is all those CEO's/CFO's really care about (oh, and golden parachutes, it goes without saying…).

    The fossil fuel companies have tried to squelch any mention of global warming FOR DECADES!!!  So they've known for over 30-40 years!

    Did NO CEO/CFO plan for the coming major climate crisis?

    Did they have NO plan on how to shift from fossils to renewables?

    If I was the CEO, and 30 years ago I saw that report, what I would do is look for small companies which are looking towards providing renewable energy sources and solutions, and buy them and their talents for my company.

    Buy them.  Finance them.  And get my company ready to make money for the real long haul.

    In that way, my company would be able to make that move seamlessly, and be well ahead of the rest of the fossil fuel companies, leaving them in my wake.

    And do you know why I would plan for long term change?


    But all people who get to be a CEO/CFO are one of the two, above!

    And all they cared about 30 years ago, was their own pockets, and how much they could line them with before they left – willingly, or via a huge golden parachute to help…
    To help then until they could “fail up” again, in another corp(se).

  3. I am about half way through Bill Gate's book…How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.  So far the only answer I have discerned is that we are not going to avoid it.  The we that is the antecedent for this we is  all humans on earth.  Normally when one uses we in a sentence like that, we think the we is all people of the U.S or all people like us.  For this we it seems we are one of the biggest immutable parts of the problem.  Sure the Republicans are the worst, as their primary political strategy is to psychotically deny there are real problems for them to solve.  Unfortunately, this strategy has developed a party that is now too ignorant of reality to even govern.

    What reading Gate's book provides is a solid, researched description of the facts about who, what, and from where these greenhouse gasses are coming from.  Just take cement, a component of concrete, as an example.  Making cement accounts for an amazing percentage of our annual greenhouse gas emissions.  Yet no politician of either party dare speak out against cement in any way.  It would be political suicide.  So too the greenhouse gasses related to agriculture and the way we eat.  Hell our present government is having a hard time getting people to get vaccinated and wear masks.  They have to know their is no political solution to this problem at least in this country.  The light bulb is dim and refuses to change.  The future is dark.  

    I do love my electric (plug in Hybrid) car.  It helps me feel less guilty.

  4. Whoever is left, tell the children. Never, ever forgive the christians for what they did.

  5. Nothing fails like success.  We've had it so good for so long in this country that we take the good for granted, as if it occurred naturally and/or by God's will.  When people scrawl a protest sign that reads "Govt hands off my Medicare!" what that reflects is the unquestioned assumption that Medicare is a part of nature.  Some people probably believe Medicare originated late on the 6th day of creation, but way more than that group still just assume that this govt program is really just state of nature.  You don't have to be a religious fanatic to be inertia-driven in your thinking.

    Of course climate change just has to be mere hysteria.  Disaster from global warming cannot possibly be around the corner, because it hasn't happened within living memory.  Living memory tells us that the Earth has been very good to us, and living memory doesn't lie, but is instead the measure of all things.

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