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Republican “Weapons of Mass Distraction” drown children of science and democracy

Last Word | December 9th, 2015

“See no Science, Hear no Science, Speak No Science” - Wealthy Republican Oligarchs before Party fundraisers at their Exclusive Club for Know-Nothings.

“I’m not a scientist either, but I can use my brain, and I can talk to one.” - Former Republican Governor Charlie Crist [D-FL], July 26, 2014

“It seems clear to me...that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation." - Pope Francis, Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2015

Despite the overwhelming testimony of the world’s scientists and statesmen,blind, deaf and dumb “monkey wisdom” seems to have taken over the Republican Party when it comes to their studied avoidance of the topic of climate change, especially in the recent debates of their candidates for the presidency in 2016.

In a Columbia University journal article from July 2015, “Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics,” James Hansen [“Storms of My Grandchildren”] and 16 other world scientists report the measurements of man’s activities in increasing carbon in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels as producing a sea level rise of 3 meters (9.84 feet) by the year 2100.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has produced evidence that human activity in burning fossil fuels has a 60-80 percent chance of producing extreme drought conditions in the American West and Southwest like those of the summer of 2015, which will continue for 30 to 40 years.

The NASA information by authors James Smerdon and other climate scientists appeared in the journal Science Advances and was reported on by Rebecca Jacobson of “PBS News Hour” on Feb. 12, 2015

On June 17, 2015, Washington Post reporter Todd Frankel wrote in the journal Water Resources Research that the world’s supply of fresh water underground is being depleted by global warming. He reported that out of 37 of the world’s largest aquifers, from India and China to the U.S. and France, 21 have passed their “sustainability tipping points,” meaning that more water has been removed than has been replaced over the 10-year study period.

This is scary stuff. Fire and floods we can believe in, based on what we have seen in the past few years. A distinguished Republican, like President Reagan’s secretary of state, George Schultz, holding an economics PhD from MIT, is worried enough to ask publicly whether we shouldn’t begin to reduce the harm from global warming now, rather than later.

Sage advice, but no match for the deregulation of campaign contributions by the U.S. Supreme Court in the “Citizens United” case that allows legalized corruption of the political process in the U.S. by the largest of corporations, many of these wealthy oligarchs are among the biggest users of fossil fuels.

Instead, Republican Party leaders and their fossil fuel oligarchs unleash “weapons of mass distraction” to defeat debate on the real issues before us, one of the most important of which is global warming.

Instead of coherent sentences and complete thoughts, we are given slogans and buzzwords, like “guns, gay marriage and abortion,” and traditional animosities, like anti-immigration, with Hispanics as targets nowadays instead of the Irish, Italians and Poles; and religious bigotry, with Muslims [“ISIS is coming”] instead of Catholics and Jews of yesteryear. These appeals to the worst in us have proven to be very effective in distracting and separating ordinary people from our common interests, our common sense, our modest goals and our modest earnings.

In August 2005 Hurricane Katrina and its disastrous consequences for New Orleans may have been the most potent wake-up call for this country that climate change could produce “climate refugees” with a vengeance in the U.S. In his book, “The Storm,” scientist Ivor van Heerden explained how business, industrial greed and political arrogance combined with contempt for science under the George W. Bush administration, to make a bad situation worse.

Six years later Hurricane Irene hit New York City, New Jersey and New England on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. The White House was occupied by a president and a party that respects science, and the desire to make government work for all of the people, not just a privileged few.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey was telling his constituents to “get the hell off the beach,” and welcoming the help of Democrat Barack Obama: reasonable and rational behavior, for which he is now being attacked as a Republican candidate for the presidency four years later.

So it goes. Rabid partisanship requires candidate Christie to soft-pedal any gratitude for federal aid, as well as deny the need to protect his coastal state with the safeguard of massive doses of science and engineering, rather than weapons of mass distraction.

Indeed, Gov. Christie apparently believes (in this election cycle) that the climate crisis can be managed by the states themselves (like New Jersey “did”) and that federal help (ie. regulation) is unnecessary. Gov. Christie can yell at his citizens to get off New Jersey beaches in time of danger, but he has no courage to stand up to Republican oligarchs in the midst of forthcoming climate danger.

Of the 17 original participants in the Republican presidential debates, all of whom, like Governor Christie, lack the courage to speak the truth to power, 12 have political or professional homes in coastal states which lie in the path of rising sea levels that are already swamping low-lying lands on this earth. Yet, in their debates, these Republican politicians refuse to discuss the reality that, if current production of greenhouse gasses is maintained, it is not a matter of “if” but “when” the onslaughts of newer Hurricane Katrinas, Irenes and Sandys will produce even greater disasters. A sea level increase of 3 meters (close to 10 feet), for example, no longer a far-fetched prediction for the near future, will completely flood airports in New York and San Francisco, which are only 3 feet [1.28 meters] above sea level.

It is also noteworthy that California’s Carly Fiorina, a Republican presidential candidate in the forefront of climate change denial, completely ignores the concerns of her drought-ravaged state for the sake of her political ambitions. Rather than advocate measures to address the contributions of fossil fuel consumption to global warming, she warms to the campaign contributions from Republican oligarchs. No courage is shown here either.

While the refugee crises stemming from wars in the Middle East are horrendous, they are but a foretaste of what is to come with climate refugees suffering from rising worldwide sea levels. The future fate of Auckland, NZ, has been charted in dire terms by scientists with graphic forecasts (see The Daily Beast, July 20, 2015, and Luke Appleby, ONE News Now, July 24, 2015). Meanwhile, Pacific Islanders, their habitats no longer habitable, have been flooding into New Zealand, a fraction of the millions who will be streaming inland as we approach the year 2100, exhausted, terrified and unwanted.

Unfortunately for Americans, Congress is now controlled by too many men and women who represent only their campaign donors and not the needs of their constituents. Whether from ideological fanaticism, irrational partisanship, bigotry or sheer stupidity, Republicans of all stripes, and even a few Democrats, have joined forces with lobbyists for oil and coal billionaires who argue that cutting back drastically on the use and abuse of fossil fuels, especially coal, tar sands and flared gas, is “bad for business.”

A perfect example of such shortsighted reasoning can be found in Florida politics and the presidential ambitions of two of its “native sons,” Sen. Marco Rubio, and former Gov. Jeb Bush. Florida could become “ground zero” for damage of a rise of 3 meters in the world’s seas. Most elevations in Florida barely approach a few dozen feet. Its highest “mountain” is only 345 feet. Do Florida’s Republican politicians really expect all their citizens to “head for the hills” from their golf courses, marinas and seaside cities when the oceans begin their inexorable rise? That is not a pretty sight to contemplate. No courage is shown by either candidate. Neither Gov. Bush nor Sen. Rubio have the courage to speak truth to power to remedially manage an ongoing crisis. They even prefer to deny climate change and its effects and to deny the need to seek remedies in the near or distant future.

In their climate change denial, Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio do not serve Florida’s constituents, but instead, the oligarchs who fund their wishes to become president. In his cowardice, Sen. Rubio even throws up his hands, so to speak, and claims that there is “nothing that we can do about it,” like a fourth “Do No Science” monkey, a visual image that is even less appealing than the one of millions of Floridians headed for their same, tiny, mountain “retreat.”

I suggest that other, so-called, level-headed businessmen and real estate brokers try to imagine how “bad for business” 9 to 10 feet of increased ocean levels will be for our coastal cities by the end of this century.

Is the Chamber of Commerce really equipped to handle millions of climate refugees in North Dakota? We got a small taste of it when refugees from Hurricane Katrina resettled here, requiring winter clothing when their homes disappeared, along with a great deal of the Mississippi Delta wetlands, ravaged first by the deprivations of fossil fuel infrastructure, and then by storms.

Can the business sector of this country, despite its remarkable ability to create jobs, really respond to public safety, public health and infrastructure issues raised by a sudden influx of climate change refugees from within our own country without the contributions of government participation at all levels?

I think not. We need to stop “monkeying around.”

We need to tune out “weapons of mass distraction” and tune in to real discussions about what our modern technology can do to make government work for all of us and apply science and engineering to reducing the dangers of global warming.

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