Planet Experts is not anti-Republican.
Planet Experts is not pro-Democrat.
Planet Experts is an environmental news platform, and we’re interested in hard science, real facts and sharing both with our readers.
That said, we’ll be the first ones to admit that we publish more stories about Republicans than we do about Democrats. The reason for that is pretty simple: the Republican party has made it their political priority to question well-established scientific facts – at least where climate change is concerned.
Democrats, on the other hand, have arguably done a pretty lousy job defending it.
So consider this disclaimer: While Planet Experts does have plenty of stories under its belt dealing with Republicans that use “I’m not a scientist” as a shield to deflect their own ignorance, or claim to fight regulation to preserve American jobs, Planet Experts has very few stories dealing with Democrats that prioritize facts over fear-mongering – with the notable exception of the dogged Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
And this is why it’s important: If the average global temperature rises just two degrees Celsius, it will spell disaster for food production, water availability, national security and the very existence of island nations.
Last year, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a coalition of the world’s leading experts on climate science, produced a 175-page report that concludes with 95 percent certainty that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are trapping heat in the atmosphere and causing the temperature to rise. The last two years have seen record-breaking global emissions and 2014 was officially the hottest year in recorded history. Ocean temperatures have also been rising for five years running and the ocean itself is now more acidic – from absorbing so much carbon dioxide – than any time in the last 300 million years.
But, lest I lose you in the gloom of all that doom too soon, I offer you a cursory review of how climate change is already impacting the planet in this sad catalogue – to read at your masochistic leisure.
With that preamble taken care of, I can now conclude this article with its belated point. Despite the warnings of scientists the world over, despite readily available facts and data, over 56 percent of Congressional Republicans deny or question climate science, according to an analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress. Think Progress has produced an exhaustive and depressing interactive map on the subject, which offers public statements disputing or disparaging climate change from the current Representatives and Senators of the 114th Congress.
Based on their public statements, 39 Republican Senators, or 72 percent of the Senatorial GOP, reject modern climate science.
According to a Climate Progress analysis,
“…68 percent of the Republican leadership in both House and Senate deny human-caused climate change. On the committee level, 13 out of 21 Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, or 62 percent, reject the science behind human-caused global warming, joined by 67 percent, or 21 out of 31 Republican members, of the House Energy and Commerce Committee…In addition to Inhofe, 10 out of 11, or 91 percent, of Republicans on EPW have said climate change is not happening or that humans do not cause it.”
You won’t see these kinds of figures in the rest of the Western world because European governments are not quibbling over climate change. As Sen. Bernie Sanders recently said, “When we reject science, we become the laughingstocks of the world.”
No, ladies and gentlemen, climate change is not a hoax, as Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) – the new head of the Senate’s Environment Committee – has said. It’s very real. But some of America’s policymakers have a very deep investment in pretending it isn’t.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for instance, has vowed “to do whatever [he] can to get the EPA reined in.” This has much to do with the fact that Sen. McConnell represents the state of Kentucky, the nation’s third-largest coal producer.
Today, coal is the cheapest but also the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Smog from coal-fired power planets has been linked to the premature deaths of 670,000 Chinese citizens, according to a study by Tsinghua University, the China Academy of Environmental Planning, Peking University and the Chinese government. A sobering statistic, to be sure, but here’s another one: Kentucky generates approximately 93 percent of its electricity from coal.
That may be coloring Sen. McConnell’s view of environmental regulation, especially since the EPA wants to reduce America’s carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The fact that the fossil fuel industry donated at least $721 million to political campaigns in the 2014 mid-terms may also have something to do with it.
So while our organization is not anti-Republican, it must be said: We at Planet Experts would not feel quite so obligated to focus on Republican climate denial if Republicans were just a little less obvious about their motives. To paraphrase the comedian Lewis Black, you have to lie to us a little better; that way, by the time we figure out what the truth is, we’ll be too tired to be too angry.
When it takes one line to connect the dots from “I’m not a scientist” to “the Koch brothers paid me a lot of money,” all we have is indignation and a lot of time to spare.