Monday, January 26, 2015
Last week, the Senate
farcically and near-unanimously voted
that "climate change is real and not a hoax". The absence of a
spine on the part of the GOP -- and the reason for it -- are painfully
obvious from several aspects of this story.
For starters, the climate is always changing, so, to a Martian, this would be about as ridiculous as the Senate wasting time and money voting on a resolution like, "The sky is blue." We Earthlings know that "climate change" is code for "scientific-sounding excuse for government intrusion into the energy sector cum cover for global temperatures eventually heading in a direction the
excuses models don't predict". So
the GOP members of the Senate have, at the outset, failed to question
the propriety of said intrusions.
But the fun isn't over, yet. We soon learn the following:
Republicans backed [James] Inhofe's stance in a second vote, rejecting an amendment from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) that stated, "climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change."This can be taken as a reasonable expression of uncertainty about the origins of a change in climate, except, again, the wording of the resolution makes speculation about causes a complete joke. Why not vote that there will be a winning team on the Super Bowl, with a resolution about any one fan (the side doesn't matter) in the stands "contributing significantly" (whatever that means) to that outcome (whatever that might be)? Word something flexibly enough, and you're never wrong. So far as I can tell from this story, everyone went along with this kind of idiocy. But why?
Perhaps Barack Obama's exploitation of a common Republican refrain on the issue of Massive Government Meddling in the Name of Global Warming or Cooling can give us a hint:
... President Obama, who has made climate change a central focus of his second term, turned the "scientist" response into a punch line in his State of the Union address.Let's be clear about a couple of things here. First, it is honest to admit being uncomfortable with the idea of making pronouncements about questions requiring knowledge outside one's expertise. But second, some political decisions -- even about matters a government might legitimately concern itself with -- do require consultation with scientists. So, anyone who refuses to take a stand -- on the basis of a lack of expertise -- on the Political Agenda Being Excused in the Name of Warming or Cooling, is not only refusing to question whether this is a proper concern of government, he is also playing into the hands of his opponents by looking irresponsible.
"I've heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they're not scientists; that we don't have enough information to act," Obama said. "Well, I'm not a scientist, either. But you know what -- I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities."
On top of all this, our Senators may not be scientists, but they are lawmakers. It is revealing that none spoke up against the propriety of our government dictating the actions of so many people regardless of what "the science" says.
I am no parliamentarian, but it seems to me that someone could have proposed an amendment further defining "climate change" or even acknowledging that there are moral and constitutional limits on what a government can and ought to do about it (or anything else). But that would have entailed someone with a spine, and that would have demanded the moral certainty that could only come from truly understanding why he is there in the first place. All the talk about science in the world will do good among our leaders if there isn't even a peep about why they should do anything and, if so, what they ought to do. Indeed, great harm can and will result.
Our new Congress isn't even starting off on the wrong foot. It is lying flat on its face.