Why Climate-Change Doubters Must Be Stopped

Despite overwhelming evidence that human-induced climate change is real, many doubters in Congress are still dragging their feet, blocking climate-change legislation like the recently defeated Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.

In the provocatively titled Salon piece “Anti-Science Conservatives Must Be Stopped,” Joseph Romm aims squarely at legislators and pundits who bypass hard scientific evidence to make claims against global warming and block climate-change legislation–not because they’re conducting scientifically rigorous studies that might refute that evidence; not because they want to have an intellectually honest debate about that evidence; but simply because it’s fiscally advantageous for them to block any legislation that might weaken the corporations from whom they receive donations.

The consequences of allowing conservatives to keep stalling on climate-change legislation are terrifying, as Romm provides the figures to show how a reduction in carbon emissions isn’t going to happen naturally by letting free trade to push the gas prices higher, or even by the relatively tepid cap-and-trade initiative in the Lieberman-Warner bill. Instead of trying to implement these sorts of incremental changes, Romm urges progressives to write “aggressive energy-independence” bills with stringent limitations on carbon emissions and greater incentives for clean-energy technologies.

If conservatives manage to continue blocking a major climate-change policy reversal into the next decade, then 2025-2050 will become a period of what Romm ominously calls “planetary purgatory,” when the doomsday scenarios of rising sea levels and widespread desertification will attain irreversible momentum. By then, emissions would have to be cut by at least 75 percent in 25 years for change to happen, and that “would require a massive, sustained government intervention … on a scale that far surpasses what this country did during World War II.”

The irony here, of course, is that conservatives deplore government intervention, and yet by stubbornly resisting what they see as unnecessary federal meddling in the form of today’s climate change legislation, they’re all but ensuring that future generations will live in an era of unprecedented government involvement in every aspect of their lives, experiencing firsthand the very scenarios of rationing and regulation their forebears used as bogeymen to prevent real change back in the early 21st century. 

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