The Trump administration’s release on Friday of a major new climate report has revealed cracks in the previously impenetrable wall of Republican and right-wing climate science denial.
From long-time Fox News host Shepard Smith to conservative foreign-policy adviser Max Boot, some on the right are now speaking more openly about how the Republican Party’s embrace of climate science denial has become a tragic threat to America’s future.
“Heatwaves are getting stronger, floods are growing larger, wildfires are obliterating more of America’s landscape — it’s because of climate change that’s largely man made,” Smith reported Monday. “Our burning of fossil fuels is damaging planet Earth and the time to stop it is running out.”
Smith explained to the Fox News audience that the findings of the 1,600-page National Climate Assessment are now common knowledge: “The climate science is accepted science.”
He pointed out that the U.S. military is spending “billions of dollars” to prepare for what’s coming, adding that “by the end of the century, climate change could shrink the U.S. economy by hundreds of billions of dollars.”
“This is not a political issue, it’s science,” Smith explained. “But some have made it political — especially Republicans.”
That’s the exact same point that longtime conservative Max Boot makes in a new Washington Post column headlined, “I was wrong on climate change. Why can’t other conservatives admit it, too?”
Boot — a foreign policy adviser to John McCain in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Marco Rubio in 2016 — answers his own question.
“They are captives, first and foremost, of the fossil fuel industry, which outspent green groups 10 to 1 in lobbying on climate change from 2000 to 2016,” Boot explains. “But they are also captives of their own rigid ideology.”
And so he concludes grimly, “It is a tragedy for the entire planet that the United States’ governing party is impervious to science and reason.”
Boot quotes a variety of climate statistics, such as “the five warmest years in the global record have all come in the 2010s.” He then notes, “Imagine if these figures reflected a rise in terrorism — or illegal immigration. Republicans would be freaking out. Yet they are oddly blasé about this climate code red.”
Indeed, senior Republicans from President Donald Trump to Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) keep mouthing long debunked talking points, as Boot shows. “Our climate always changes and we see those ebb and flows through time,” Ernst told CNN Sunday. “We need to always consider the impact to American industry and jobs.”
Ernst and other Republicans “should know better,” says Boot. He adds, “We do need to consider the impact on U.S. jobs — but that’s an argument for action rather than, as Ernst suggests, inaction.”
After all, the National Climate Assessment warns that, absent strong action, the U.S. GDP will drop sharply and the “potential for losses in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century.”
This is a defining moment of truth for the Republican Party — will party establishment accept the science or allow the catastrophic impacts to unfold?
As the Trump Administration’s report warns, “Observations collected around the world provide significant, clear, and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher, and is rising more rapidly, than anything modern civilization has experienced, with widespread and growing impacts.”