Column: The GOP as the ostrich

It is time for the GOP to fully commit and use their political weight to find realistic measures for limiting the impact of climate change. Pandering to an influential lobby and a shrinking proportion of the population will only lead to long-term instability. (The Walt/Flickr)

It is time for the GOP to fully commit and use their political weight to find realistic measures for limiting the impact of climate change. Pandering to an influential lobby and a shrinking proportion of the population will only lead to long-term instability. (The Walt/Flickr)

As the presidential race continues on, both Republicans and Democrats have continued their race to the far right and the far left. For Republicans, this means once again abandoning science and reason, and finding comfort in backwards, asinine views on social progress and the environment.

Senator Marco Rubio, the darling of many in the GOP for his potential appeal to the Hispanic vote – which has all but abandoned them following jingoistic expressions of bigoted backwardness – dove head first into pseudoscience and the myth of climate regulation strangling business. With over 70 percent of Americans firmly believing in human-influenced climate change, a number that shows the scientists are finally having an influence, ignoring this problem in favor of runaway capitalism is an absurdly masochistic ploy.

The GOP cannot plunge the world off the edge of the climate-change cliff in the name of dollars and cents.

According to a report from the New York Times, Rubio, while speaking at a rally in Salem, Ohio, said “he would immediately allow construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to go forward…Mr. Rubio would also permit more offshore oil and gas drilling… [and] effectively nullify an international climate change accord the administration is pursuing.”

This summary could fit the comments of nearly all of the GOP ‘candidates.’ The Keystone XL pipeline warrants no further discussion; in summary, it is nothing more than a symbol. The project itself will do little for the economy of the heartland or the Untied States in general. Like Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans, the GOP is aiming for a technically pointless but inspirational victory. 

The Republican denial of climate change has eroded in recent years, as even the most stubborn politicians finally opened their eyes to the irrefutable proof offered by science, as well as visually and physically though increasingly potent storms, the drowning Maldives and documentaries such as “Chasing Ice.”

Republicans have, instead of demonizing legitimate science as leftist-quackery, opted to inspire millions with concerns of economic destabilization and doomsday fire and brimstone. In pandering to this mentality, the heartland of the country has become a new burned over district. As citizens in fracking heavy areas light their “potable” water on fire, due to contamination, the GOP has continued their public relations push to better the image of petroleum and natural gas companies, while showing climate activists as anti-business.

Fortunately for the logical and rational, the science is clear. Human influenced climate change is an indisputable fact. The massive environmental impact of oil and gas companies, from the BP oil spill to flammable water in fracking country, are visually haunting and undeniable. We cannot weigh every aspect of the economy more heavily than the global. There is no use for a bank account brimming with millions if one has to row their way to work over what used to be the Financial District in lower Manhattan. If the “100 year” storms start occurring, with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, every year, then what has our protection of and pandering to the influential oil and gas lobby provided? Republicans will continue to lodge their heads in the sand so long as it fattens their campaign coffers. 

The New York Times article quoted Rubio as saying “Democrats like Hillary Clinton are outdated…they label themselves ‘progressives,’ yet take great pride in opposing economic progress.” He further compared the “30,000 pages of new regulations [under the Obama administration] as being ‘46 times the length of the Bible.’” If the GOP continues to ignore the clear and present danger of climate change in favor of short-term economic stability or growth, they will sit back and, in a stroke of tragic irony, watch rising sea levels redraw the map of the United States.

The problem of climate change cannot be taken lightly. There is no use in bolstering the economy if the world is destabilized by massive and irreversible (in our timescale) geographic and biological changes. The Pentagon has already confirmed that climate change is a threat to national security, due to the destabilizing effects of global shifts. Furthermore, the economy, if given the chance, would react well if shifted towards renewable and climate-conscious goals.

Tesla, Solar City and other companies have proven the viability of the green and eco-friendly entrepreneurial endeavor. It is time for the GOP to fully commit and use their political weight to find realistic measures for limiting the impact of climate change. Pandering to an influential lobby and a shrinking proportion of the population will only lead to long-term instability.


Christopher Sacco is opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.sacco@uconn.edu.