Ron Brownstein pointed out, over the weekend, that the Republican party is almost unique among major political parties across the world in its overwhelming skepticism of the science of global warming...The Bellows (via).
We’re not talking about a nuanced, Jim Manzi-argument in favor of a recognition of the science but inaction on the policy. If that were the median GOP position, a bill much tougher than any placed on the table would have flown through Congress. No, it’s far worse than that. No GOP leader of consequence is able to make and sustain the argument that climate change is occurring as the scientists say it is. That’s remarkable! Imagine the world’s major powers sitting down in the early 20th century to negotiate a treaty on the law of the sea, only to have one of America’s major political parties vow to defeat any settlement, on the grounds that the world is in fact flat.
This is an immense tragedy, for America, but especially for the rest of the world. I recognize that Democrats are no angels on this subject. Politics is politics, and no one is going to line up to accept painful sacrifices. I accept that in a world in which Republicans do believe in global warming, it would still be nearly impossible to pass a carbon price sufficient to slow and eventually halt warming. But that’s not the only option out there. It could still be possible to price carbon sufficiently to cut off the possibility of extreme tail events (some of them anyway). It would still be possible to invest in some new green technologies and some crucial adaptation plans. It would still be possible to strike a meaningful international deal on emissions, general mitigation strategies, and contingent plans for extreme weather events. We can’t even debate these options, because half of the people who matter in Washington are committed to denial of the basic facts.
We are sowing the seeds of catastrophe. I keep thinking that at some point, a conservative of conscience will take a stand and force the GOP to do some soul searching on this issue. There are hundreds of millions of lives depending on the decisions the American government makes. Surely some Republican of some importance values those lives over short-term political gain!
Update note: I had added what I thought was an editorial correction (the "not" in brackets) to the above sentence: "No GOP leader of consequence is able to make and sustain the argument that climate change is [not] occurring as the scientists say it is." But rereading the sentence, I think the edit was probably incorrect, so I've returned it to the original sentence. Implicit in the original sentence is the thought that there are Republicans who would make the case for tackling climate change, if only their party would allow it, but they are instead cowed into silence. Lindsey Graham is the prime example. My correction had changed the meaning of the sentence to something along the lines of no Republicans being able to make a strong case against the existence of climate change but denying it anyway. Avent's sentence is more generous.