Monday, 30 April 2012

Weird stuff Republican Congressmen say about climate change

I've spent many many hours in the past few years going through Congressional debates on climate change. One of the most striking things about these discursive set pieces is that, again and again, Republican Members of Congress show an admiral willingness to openly denigrate their political adversaries in a number of creative ways. Below, then, is a quick snapshot of some of my favourite demonstrations of this verbal creativity in which 'climate change' comes to symbolise much more than an environmental dispute, but an issue that serves to reveal the deepest, darkest underbelly of those who wish to act to reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions...

Accusing environmental groups of hating capitalism, the free market, and America

Senator Inhofe, 108th Congress:

"I urge my colleagues to... reject approaches designed not to solve an environmental problem but to satisfy the ever-growing demand of environmental groups for money and for power and other extremists who simply do not like capitalism, free markets, and freedom. Climate alarmists see an opportunity here to tax the American people...such a course of action fits a particularly ideological agenda but is entirely unwarranted. It is my fervent hope Congress will reject prophets of doom who peddle propaganda masquerading as science in the name of saving the planet."

Senator Voinovich, 108th Congress:

"Our friends in the environmental community and their allies in Congress have hardened their positions on climate change to the point that voting for carbon caps—despite the tremendous negative impact such caps have on jobs, the poor, and our economy— has become a litmus test. In a word, this position is unreasonable. It is unreasonable that nothing other than capping carbon is acceptable. It is unreasonable that nothing other than forcing utilities to rely solely on natural gas to generate electricity and devastating our economy is acceptable. And, finally, it is unreasonable that nothing other than sending American jobs overseas and driving up energy costs for the poor and elderly on fixed income is acceptable."

"Extremists" who hate "capitalism, free markets, and freedom"? Brilliant! That's a one-two-three knockout right there! "Alarmists" simply looking to tax the hell out of everyone in the name of their "ideological agenda"? Hell yeah! Taxing people unfairly is like a bone to a dog to these people.  "Prophets of doom who peddle propaganda masquerading as science"? The rhythmic belt of this phrase is just astonishing! This would be a great Artist name/Album title combo: 'The Prophets of Doom, releasing their first studio album Propaganda Masquerading as Science in May 2012, available from all good record stores...' It makes Senator Voinovich's assertions that the "environmental community" only want to hurt the "poor and elderly" while "devastating the economy" seem tame in comparison. 

Accusing those who believe in a ‘consensus’ on climate change of politicising science

Senator Inhofe, 108th Congress:

"I believe it would be unconscionable to heed the alarmists’ cries for economic disarmament without subjecting these claims of doom to the scrutiny they deserve. Predictably, those who peddle fear do not want discussions of science. Hiding behind claims of ‘‘the science is settled,’’ they conjure ever more creative ways to market the myth. This is exactly what is wrong with how alarmists discuss this issue. Rather than joining me and those like me in a commitment to using the best, nonpoliticized science— whatever it finds—politically motivated groups… pander to our worst fears to drive their political agenda."

Representative Young, 107th Congress:

"We take a great deal upon ourselves saying it is our fault because of this global warming when, in reality, if we look at the past history of this earth, it was warm at one time, it was very, very cold at one time; and that was before mankind had anything to do with it. So before we jump off the cliff, let us understand one thing: we may not be as important as the gentleman thinks we are."

From the 'alarmist cries' from the 'peddlers of fear' attempting 'economic disarmament' to the nice, easy, objective 'nonpoliticized science' of himself, Senator Inhofe sure knows how to convince people he's the neutral one. I love how he uses the first two sentences to convince people that his opponents are evil, before calling for a more 'reasonable' approach. It's just semantic genuis. As for Representative Young, I love the different tact. Instead of bludgeoning his audience with claims of his superiority, he turns it on its head and accuses his opponents of being arrogant enough to believe their actions can effect something as big, great, and grand as 'the earth'. Humans are simply 'not that important' so lets wash our hands of this obscene idea of human causality.  

Comparing climate change regulation to Nazi ideology

Senator Inhofe, 108th Congress:

"At a press conference on global warming and the Kyoto Protocol, Russian Presidential Economic Advisor Andrei Illarionov made some comments about ideology that are nothing short of remarkable. Let me share with you what he says is driving the global warming debate. Illarionov stated: There have been examples in our fairly recent history of how a considerable portion of Europe was flooded with the brown Nazi ideology, the red Commie ideology that caused severe casualties and consequences for Europe and the entire world. Now there is a big likelihood that a considerable part of Europe has been flooded with another type, another color of ideology—[and he is speaking of global warming here—again, another type, another color of ideology]—but with very similar implications for European societies and human societies the world over. He also said that imposition of the Kyoto Protocol ‘‘would deal a powerful blow on the whole humanity similar to the one humanity experienced when Nazism and communism flourished.’’ And that was the chief economic advisor to Russian President Putin. The world has certainly turned on its head that [sic] we Americans must look to Russians for speaking out strongly against irrational authoritarian ideologies."

Now, this is one of the weirder comparisons Senator Inhofe has made. Climate change regulation as a thinly-veiled Nazi ideology? I know the words aren't originally his, but to have the cahunas to stand on the floor and essentially accuse the Minority Party of aligning themselves with Hitler...?! And then to point out that America has gone so far to pot that the Soviets are now protecting them from such a threat...?! Flabbergasting (and I don't use that term lightly).

Accusing those who want greenhouse gas regulation of hating freedom

Senator Craig, 108th Congress:

"When I decided to enter politics, I was guided by a deep belief in personal freedom—the maximum amount possible for the citizens of our Nation that is consistent with an orderly society. By freedom I mean the opportunity to achieve one’s true potential, whether as an individual, a community, or a business. Freedom spawns discovery and innovation and in turn discovery and innovation solve problems and create opportunities. Regulation is the antithesis of freedom. It certainly retards, if not completely extinguishes our natural desire to discover and be innovative, and yet, we, as a Nation, seem more and more inclined to willingly accept the form of a regulatory state."

Representative Rohrbacher, 110th Congress:

"The big lie their generation has been fed is that the environment is going the wrong way and that they have to give up their freedom, that we have to give up our national sovereignty, and that they have to give up their expectations of certain things in their life because the future is bleak because everything about the environment—the air, the water, the land—are all getting worse when, in fact, there has been tremendous progress made."

'Regulation is the antithesis of freedom', 'extinguishing' the desire to 'discover and be innovative'? It's a silly point so beautifully put in such a bizarre context that it is well deserving of it's place on this list. How can the 'Nation' sit back and let this 'regulatory state' encroach upon them? How can democratically-elected representatives sit and watch as 'true potential' is crushed? All because some people believe too much CO2 is bad for you... This delicate point is very much counterpoised by the melodrama that Representative Rohrbacher brings to the table. 'IT'S ALL GOING WRONG!', he accuses environmentalists of shouting, 'WE'RE ALL SCREWED UNLESS YOU STOP PLAYING PLAYSTATION AND ACCEPT THAT THE CHINESE ARE COMING!', he says we're being told. But, not to worry, he eventually assures us, 'tremendous' (if vague) 'progress' is being made.

Accusing environmentalists of fabricating the case for anthropogenic climate change

Representative Rohrbacher, 110th Congress:

"So what we need to do is to close our eyes, close our eyes and pretend that there are fewer polar bears. That’s the way to do it. That’s the way we should make policy, according to the scaremongers. But the case is not closed. The gnomes of climate theory are now coming up with self-serving explanations and verbal maneuvers. The first attempt to cover their tracks has been slow but ever so clever. The words ‘‘climate change’’ have now replaced the words ‘‘global warming.’’...But if they use the words ‘‘climate change,’’ how are we going to counteract their policy recommendations when now whatever happens to the climate, they can justify it based on climate change? Sorry, fellows. Do you really think the world and the United States is filled with morons? I mean, bait-and-switch is an old game, and we’ve seen it in car salesmen; and car salesmen, I might add, are paragons of virtue compared to this global warming crowd... Let us not let the alarmists take this country down the wrong path. Let’s let the children of this country and planet have the freedom and prosperity we enjoyed, and not give it away to hucksters who would frighten us into giving up our birthright in the name of saving the planet. Sounds noble, but it’s just a trick, a hoax. The greatest hoax of all."

There's simply so much going on here that is exciting! 'Close your eyes and pretend'? OK! 'Don't make policy according to scaremongers'? I don't remember that being in the Democrats' manifesto, but sure, lets not do that! Don't believe the 'Gnomes of climate theory' - or just never believe a Gnome...? Is the 'United States filled with morons'? Well, no, but then I didn't realise many of them had a habit of making policy based on scaremongering Gnomes... Environmentalists as 'car salesmen' - seems a clunky metaphor given the subject matter (cars-emissions-no...?), but let's go with it. They're 'hucksters', yeah! (What the heck is a 'husckster'?) I mean saving the planet you rely on for life may sound 'noble' (is that not maybe because it is...?), but who wants to be noble! Screw them! Oh, and it's a HOAX?! Well, why didn't you say so before! Lets go storm the nearest second-hand car retailer, or should that be gardencentre? Wait, i'm confused, who do we hate? Gnomes, car-salesmen, hucksters, or environmentalists? Where's Inhofe when you need him...

Accusing environmentalists of targeting children as a recruitment activity

Senator Inhofe, 110th Congress:

" is important to take note of our pop culture propaganda campaign aimed at children, the most vulnerable of all of us. In addition to Gore’s entry last year into Hollywood fictional disaster films, other celebrity figures have attempted to jump into the game. Hollywood activist Leonardo DiCaprio decided to toss objective scientific truth out the window in his new scarefest ‘‘The 11th Hour.’’ … DiCaprio said on May 20 of this year: I want the public to be very scared by what they see. I want them to see a very bleak future… Children are now the No. 1 target of the global warming fear campaign. DiCaprio announced his goal was to recruit young, eco-activists to the cause. ‘‘We need to get kids young,’’ he said, in a September 20 interview with USA Weekend… Unfortunately, children are hearing the scientifically unfounded doomsday message loudly and clearly. But the message kids are receiving is not a scientific one, it is a political message designed to create fear, nervousness, and ultimately recruit them to liberal activism."

Al Gore as a 'celebrity' who now makes 'Hollywood fictional disaster films'? Last I checked he was an ex-Vice President and long-serving Senator, but as career-switches go it's not completely infeasible, I guess. And Leo DiCaprio is getting in on the act now too? What the one who was in that film about the really dangerous icebergs? He wants us to save more of them?! That's insane! And he's targetting CHILDREN?! He wants our kids to be scared of an impending doom that will never (probably, possibly, maybe) come?! What a horrible chap. Particularly if he's trying to 'recruit them to liberal acitvism'. Now polar bears, icebergs, and eco-activism I can just about take, but 'liberal activism'... now that's just going too far!

All in all a fantastic effort all round, I hope you'll agree.


Rosa Melburg said...

You seem to rely a lot on Inhofe. How representative is he of the Republican Party at large?

Mat Hope said...

He's not particularly representative of the Republicans, and he's famed for his Climate Sceptic statements. But this wasn't really meant to be a representative demonstration so much as a showcase of how mad some of the statements get. Hence his prominence in this list.