Republican Convention Recap: As Experts Warn ‘The Door Is Closing’ On Climate, The GOP Mocks The Problem

Posted on  

"Republican Convention Recap: As Experts Warn ‘The Door Is Closing’ On Climate, The GOP Mocks The Problem"

A national political convention is the first real chance for a political party to introduce its ideas and leaders to the country. Even though this election has been gearing up for 18 months, it’s only around now that Americans start paying attention.

The Republican National Convention is now over. The speeches have been made, the platform introduced, the balloons have been dropped. And if it hasn’t been obvious over the months, Americans now have a clear window into the GOP’s scary policies on energy and climate.

Let’s start with what some of the leading international energy experts and climate scientists are saying about the impending global warming tipping point we’re facing:

NASA climatologist James Hansen:

“Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels. If this sounds apocalyptic, it is.”

Fatih Birol, chief economist with the International Energy Agency:

“The door is closing. I am very worried – if we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever.”

Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University’s climate change institute:

“This is the critical decade. If we don’t get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines.”

In the lead up to the Republican National Convention, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the U.S. had just experienced the hottest 12-month period on record and the hottest July ever recorded. So far this year, more than 27,000 high-temperature records have been broken or tied, beating cold record temperatures by 10 to 1 — five times the ratio of the last decade (if there were no warming, we’d see the same number of hot records and cold records). And throughout the summer, America faced record drought, record wildfires, and freak storms — all things that climate scientists warn will happen with increasing frequency and intensity.

Topping it all off, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported this week that Arctic sea ice had reached record lows — with temperatures in the region rising at twice the rate of the rest of the globe.

But as the evidence mounts and experts issue increasingly dire warnings about the need for immediate and swift reductions in carbon pollution, the Republican party dug its heels in on promotion of carbon-based fuels. Almost every speech on energy was devoted exclusively to increasing production of coal, oil, and gas — with the only mentions of renewable energy used to politicize the failed solar company Solyndra.

The only mention of climate in the party’s platform was to mock President Obama for including climate risk in national security planning:

“The strategy subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy and international health issues, and elevates ‘climate change’ to the level of a ‘severe threat’ equivalent to foreign aggression. The word ‘climate,’ in fact, appears in the current President’s strategy more often than Al Qaeda, nuclear proliferation, radial Islam, or weapons of mass destruction. The phrase ‘global war on terror’ does not appear at all and has been purposely avoided and changed by his Administration to “overseas contingency operations.’”

In fact, a military advisory board under the Bush W. Administration concluded in 2007 that climate change “acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world” and “will add to tensions even in stable regions of the world.” The Pentagon agreed with that assessment, concluding that climate change will “place a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.”

There was one other mention of climate change during the convention. Mitt Romney finished his acceptance speech by mocking Obama’s earlier promises to deal with the problem:

“President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans — [pauses for audience laughter] — and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

Reacting to the resounding laughter among delegates to those comments, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said the moment would someday “be in documentaries as a moment of just ‘what-were-they-thinking’ madness.”

What’s more mind-boggling is how swiftly the party has changed its stance on the issue. Not long ago, the Republican party actually seemed to understand the problem. Brad Plumer at the Wonk Blog has a piece looking at the differences in the 2008 and 2012 Republican platforms on climate and energy issues. The change is dramatic:

The 2008 platform went on to call for “technology-driven, market-based solutions that will decrease emissions, reduce excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, increase energy efficiency, mitigate the impact of climate change where it occurs, and maximize any ancillary benefits climate change might offer for the economy.”

This language didn’t just come out of nowhere. At the time, a handful of prominent Republican politicians appeared genuinely interested in tackling climate change. Then-Senator John Warner (R-Va.) was co-sponsoring legislation to reduce the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions. On the presidential campaign trail, John McCain was talking up his cap-and-trade program that would put a price on carbon. (McCain, for his part, was one of the earliest members of Congress to endorse this idea.)

The 2008 GOP platform certainly didn’t agree with liberals and environmentalists on everything. Far from it. The document put a heavy emphasis on nuclear power, which tends to cause some green groups to bristle (although many Democrats softened their opposition to atomic energy in the years that followed, in a failed effort to woo conservatives on climate policy). The platform also had harsh words for “doomsday climate change scenarios” and “no-growth radicalism.” Yet the 2008 GOP platform was, essentially, taking part in a debate over how best to tackle greenhouse gases—not about whether the climate was changing at all.

This week’s convention gave the national Republican party a chance to share its views with America. It’s now abundantly clear where the party stands on the most pressing issue of our time: climate change and renewable energy are something to be mocked, not seriously addressed.

« »

42 Responses to Republican Convention Recap: As Experts Warn ‘The Door Is Closing’ On Climate, The GOP Mocks The Problem

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    The Republicans get away with it because the TV networks got the message from the oil companies. Convention reporters treated the rising oceans line as if it were a good joke.

    There is no Walter Cronkite any more, and if an anchor steps out of line- as Rather did- he is without a job, forever. Today’s news “reporters” are cowards, by definition, led by people like Bob Schieffer and Tom Brokaw.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      You understand the MSM, its biases, the power of the Bosses and the cowardice of the ‘presstitutes’ well. Add in the ideological screening that is undertaken before any novitiate is added to the business, to ensure maximum adherence to Rightwing dogma, and the constant culling that goes on when ‘Thought Crime’ is noticed, and you get the moral and intellectual desert of uniformity of opinion, ‘spooky synchronicity’ of view-points and complete absence of principle in peddling known lies and rank propaganda, that is the hilariously and arrogantly misnamed ‘Free Press’.

  2. Lionel A says:

    Dan Rather interviewed for The Guardian. Sorry about the annoying intro let it run it’s 34 second course.

    • Jack Burton says:

      Thanks for that fine link. I have now lived long enough to see the media in America degenerate beyond measure.
      Allowing Global Climate Change to become a joke is no accident. The corporate elites have quite simply purchased media and now use to to control American’s views and to direct them in the corporate interest. It is not NEWS, it is Corporate PR.
      I agree, the ling at the end of Romney’s speech will be seen in historical context as the final surrender to global warming. The moment deniers won and stepped on the accelerator of our impending doom.
      We were all told late 21st century would be the crisis time, now we are seeing that was 70 years too far out. We are at tipping point now, feedback loops are coming on line and will be felt ever more as the next decade unfolds.

      • Romney’s comments are very discouraging, and it’s hard not to throw in the towel and say a climate disaster is now inevitable.

        I agree his line will mark the day the denialists and obstructionists won, IF he gets elected. Yet there’s a sliver of hope if he doesn’t.

        Do not fail to vote for Obama. He may represent only 10% of what we need to survive, but Romney represents 100% of what is lethal.

      • Lionel A says:

        Feedback loops yes and there are other surprises in store as I remarked over at Deltoid 10:17am, sorry but a recent change at Deltoid to NG groups has messed up ability to link to specific posts:

        Given the Arctic sea ice decline that Moron Marano and failed meteorologist Watts are trying to hand wave away see recent ice related threads at Tamino’s the true cause of, one must consider the impact on the already invigorated hydrological cycle which is also showing signs of geographical instability.

        This together with the fact that higher latitudes are warming faster than equatorial should lead to concerns about the increasing instability of mountain areas, many like the Cascades of volcanic-subduction zone type, origin.

        The warming of mountain areas from the Himalayas to the Andes, from the Cascades to Iceland and on to the French/Swiss/Italian/Austrian Alps is causing the ice bonded rock to fracture and result in increased incidences of rock falls and mudslides. Some of these result in the formation of debris dams across narrow ravines which then burst with further and more catastrophic consequences often to settlement far downstream.

        Also the removal of ice cover, weight, and rising sea levels are shifting the loading on the Earth’s crust and mantle provoking an increased tectonic response – volcanism and fault release.

        Increased rainfall also has another deleterious effect by increasing the pore pressure in the material covering mountains and volcanoes. This can cause the sudden collapse of the whole side of a volcano promoting a sudden release of pent up magma – Mount St Helens type.

        Check out Bill McGuire’s book ‘Waking the Giant’. I am slowly gather more background on this aspect of climate change as I follow reference’s.

        As the globe warms be prepared for a bumpy ride the likes of which the Romneys and Ryans of the world are totally oblivious to. Load the main Thinkprogress page and see that Gina ‘noheart’ Rinehart’ has a slot and much else.

        If these goons are elected then it is essentially game over for the US as far as science is concerned. After all what is better than having to shoot the messenger? Don’t create messengers in the first place.

    • Paul Magnus says:

      His book looks worthy of some shelf space…. (or MBs on the ipad)

      http://www.amazon.com/Rather-Outspoken-My-Life-News/dp/1455502413

  3. When the ice cap goes a few years from now and the climate abruptly collapses, terrorism will ramp up like never before. The Third World, largely Muslim, will blame the West for the catastrophe.

    You’d think the radical right would then repent its mockery of climate change “alarmism.”

    But I think they’ll double down on reactionaryism. As the world economy unravels (think Great Depression times ten) and terrorism proliferates (think another 9/11), any talk of addressing the climate problem–using less fossil fuel–will sound like treason to them.

    Nature, the very expression of God, will be coming apart at the seams. What will militant fundamentalist Christians, who believe they are God’s chosen, and who even now blame gays and “socialists” for all the ills of America, going to do in reaction? I think they’ll make a power grab. They will be very, very shocked, angry, and ripe for a demagogue who promises to “take back America for God,” a strongman who tells them, “this is why we fought for the sanctity of the Second Amendment.”

    It’ll look a lot like Germany in the 1930s, maybe without the full racial purity idea, but a lot like it nonetheless.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Beware Dominionism, particularly as it spreads through the armed forces. A genocial, Malthusian, religious war is very much on the cards.

    • Timeslayer says:

      It’s scary that what you describe looks very plausible. I’ve been thinking along similar lines for years and years. I hope we’re wrong, somehow, but it sure doesn’t look that way.

      Today’s Republicans will go down in history as nothing short of absolute villains of humanity.

      TS

  4. I found the laughter from the audience when Romney mocked Obama about the climate problem to be absolutely spine chilling, like watching an old newsreel of demagogues from the past century. It reminded me of a scene from a movie where the masses all applaud for the obviously wrong idea….

    • Paul Klinkman says:

      On Lake Ponchartrain the ocean was rising even as Romney mocked the idea. I wonder how those particular evacuees will vote? The first day of the Republican convention was canceled for fear of sea level rise at the convention center.

    • David Lewis says:

      A video clip of that laughter is up on Youtube for those who have yet to witness this.

      Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows have a new paper out in Nature Climate Change that is relevant to this post.

      “They… criticise the dominance of a financial mentality and how many within the scientific community underplay the severity of their analysis to ensure their conclusions support the orthodoxy of economic growth…. They conclude that “Civil society needs scientists to do science free of the constraints of a failed economics”, and that whilst “decisions on how to respond to climate change are the product of many constituencies … science is important amongst these and needs to be communicated clearly, honestly and without fear.”

  5. Leif says:

    The Green Awakening Economy is coming, the question is will it be in time for the Kidders?

  6. Paul Magnus says:

    “Make my day” catch phrase sums it all up. Scary times.

  7. catman306 says:

    The BIG LIE is omission.

  8. Paul Magnus says:

    Door has banged shut I am afraid.

    We are .8C now. We have at least 1C+ in the pipeline (not keystone). And this is the situation on the ground….

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/31/784801/for-peats-sake-record-temperatures-and-wildfires-in-eastern-russia-drive-amplifying-carbon-cycle-feedback/

    No wonder 1/2 the voters have gone bonkers.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Plus one degree Celsius suppressed by global dimming. We are like Wile. E. Coyote, off the cliff, standing still in clear air, waiting for gravity to kick in.

    • Paul Magnus says:

      We Are Writing the Epilogue to the World We Knew
      http://www.commondreams.org
      The data continue to roll in, and they are telling us we are in the process of bringing an end to the world we evolved in, and creating a new, harsher world. We will be forced to devote more and more of our resources trying to adapt to this new world, and less on development.
      http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/31

    • Paul Magnus says:

      ” Let’s look at the facts.

      Arctic sea ice hits lowest extent ever measured (and it’s still melting) – check.

      Hottest winter, spring, summer, year, decade ever measured – check.

      Most extensive drought in 50 fifty years, and getting worse – check.

      Worst floods in recorded history – check.

      Hottest seas in eons – check.

      Most acidic oceans ever measured – check.

      Most greenhouse gasses released in a single year – check.

      Highest sea levels since Pleistocene – check.

      Most permafrost melted (with record releases of methane) ever measured – check.

      Massive crop failures and record high food prices – check.

      Most severe weather events ever recorded – check.

  9. Beth McLennan says:

    @A Change in the Weather: we have to have more faith in our neighbors than this. You and I may feel (and probably rightly) that we’ve been screwed over completely by the fossil fuel industry’s wholesale purchase of the GOP, but we can’t let that color our judgment to the point that we believe humans are incapable of realizing their mistakes and changing their ways. The “reactionary right” are our neighbors and relatives, and they can do the right thing if they are given the opportunity. Now, it’s highly likely that this change of ways on the extreme right will come too late to actually alter the outcome, but that’s another story. I still have hope that the collapse of our climate will be a chance for society to come together and find a way through to whatever lies on the other side. I have to think this; I have young kids.

    @Auden, hello, I’m a former SkiCo employee and a friend of Brian Flynn’s. I worry a lot about my former home and how long it will be a viable place to live.

    • I desire nothing more than to be completely mistaken, to be proven spectacularly wrong, to have wasted the balance of my life in thrall to a false and grindingly self-destructive idea. It is a humiliation I would welcome.

      But Pollyanna I am not. Germany really happened. WW2 really happened. Rwanda really happened. And climate change is really happening.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Capitalist societies are no longer able to ‘come together’. Decades of deliberate efforts by the ruling pathocrats to ‘divide and rule’ to brainwash the amenable masses with hatred of unionists, environmentalists, refugees, welfare recipients, gays, feminists, Moslems, China, Iran, Russia, Castro, Chavez, ‘do-gooders’ etc has had a lasting and infinitely pernicious effect. While most of the brainwashed may still retain an inner core of decency and might yet throw off the indoctrination, many will not, because they cannot. And it only takes a tiny fraction of violent extremists to undermine any society.

  10. catman306 says:

    Watching Romney reminds me of watching Bob Hope deliver his lines. Roll those eyes! Here’s one link @ about 8 minutes.
    (August 31)
    http://www.democracynow.org/

  11. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Jon Holdren gave us three choices, looks like we have chosen suffering.

  12. fj says:

    Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children

    http://youtu.be/gHbYJfwFgOU

    This addresses widespread denial of really easy to prove ideas such as climate change and net zero mobility.

  13. Aussie John says:

    This address by
    This article “the church and the ethics of climate change” posted on Aussie ABC represents a little bit of sanity:-
    http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/08/29/3578983.htm
    Why aren’t more churches speaking out to defend humanity from such deadly greed and avarice????

    Worthy religions should not allow their cloak of respectability be worn by politicians to help them attain power and further defile the planets life support system.

  14. Aussie John says:

    This is an interesting precis from ABC radio – the sad history of global warming inaction by Naomi Oreskes, co-author of “The Merchants of Doubt”:-

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/naomi-oreskes—merchants-of-doubt/3012690

    It runs for 50 minutes – fascinating listening – if only everyone could be aware of the disgraceful machinations that sabotaged Earth’s climate.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The Evil Ones have acted in this manner since time immemorial. This time the time-honoured tactics will bring auto-genocide, otherwise the process is unchanged.

  15. Jay Dee Are says:

    Here’s a brief history of Romney’s Etch-a-Sketch positions on global warming.

    June 2011:

    “I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know that there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.”

    October 2011:

    “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

    August 2012:

    “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans — [pauses for audience laughter] — and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

    The guy is nothing but a shameless panderer, utterly devoid of character and integrity. He’s as much of a brown-nose to moneyed right as his running mate.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      For Romney to brown-nose the rich requires a gymnastic flexibility denied by Mr Eastwood during his ‘stream of incoherence’ ramblings.

  16. Joan Savage says:

    The GOP platform’s evident disdain for the security threat of climate change deserves more focused rebuttals from the President, Homeland Security and the military.

  17. Bill Goedecke says:

    I think it is a chilling response. Especially when the fact is that drilling has increased substantially under the Obama administration and according to the financial times the Obama administration has resisted regulating fracking. The folks in the audience have absolutely no regard for not only climate issues but also resource issues. A sign of madness.

  18. OligarchyNot says:

    The climate as a whole has warmed by approximately 1.5 degrees since 1880 (the beginning of the industrial revolution). If the climate continues to warm beyond 2.0 degrees, we enter uncharted territory and we may not be able to reverse or slow down the warming process by reducing the amount of CO2 we release into the atmosphere. There is some disagreement as to when the planet becomes uninhabitable, but it is somewhere between 2 to 10 degrees of warming. The effects of climate warming can lead to cooler weather patterns, but there’s a difference between weather and climate — weather patterns change seasonally and can be dramatic in their extremes; changes to the climate (or global surface temperatures) are slow and subtle, but can have long-term effects. Climate determines what the weather is going to be. Our climate has been steadily warming since around 1880 when humans began adding to the natural levels of CO2 released into the atmosphere, increasing CO2 levels three-fold beyond their natural fluctuations. Scientists used to believe it would take the ice sheets decades or even a millennia to melt, but were shocked to see the ice sheet on Greenland completely disappear in 4 days this July. To see NASA’s climate statistics, go to http://climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/index.cfm#globalTemp The statistics don’t lie. Instead of being alarmists as some have claimed, climate scientists have been overly conservative in their predictions of the potential effects of a rapidly warming climate and how quickly those effects will take place. The 4-day melting of Greenland’s ice sheet makes it apparent that it will be us, and not our children or grandchildren, who will experience the initial effects of human-accelerated climate change. For the generation who had the ability to try to forestall this happening but did nothing thanks to greed and avarice, this is called instant karma.