Science, Now + Beyond

Republicans are getting sneakier about ignoring climate change

What gives?

I’m afraid that there is no “moderate” way to be honest about climate change. The earth is really warming, and yes, humans are really the ones to blame. Any attempts to deny these two facts, however gently, or surreptitiously, are lies.

Recently, some of the most powerful government authorities, who (unfortunately) are slated to decide the future of climate policy, have taken a stealthier approach to protect the Big Oil interests they are indebted to.

Rex Tillerson, the new Secretary of State and former Exxon CEO, says climate change is real, but we can adapt to it.

The truth: Unless we reach zero carbon admissions, we cannot adapt without making living on this planet very uncomfortable for human beings. There is even a risk that climate change will make a vast amount of the Earth uninhabitable for large mammals (that includes us!).

Scott Pruitt, the current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, claims that “the human ability to measure with precision the extent of that impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”

The truth: There might be debate between Pruitt and his buddies, but among actual scientists, there is an overwhelming consensus that humans cause climate change.

Trump himself says he will keep “an open mind” about whether or not climate change is real.

The truth: What is there to keep an open mind about? Even though he once claimed climate change was a Chinese hoax, it has continued to exist and has already begun to affect parts of the world anyway. I can only hope that he keeps an “open mind” about the sky being blue, or an “open mind” about how terrible he is at running the country.

The above statements are falsehoods, yet it is easy for us to read them as a shift in the right direction on the part of Republicans. After all, the GOP has been known to outright deny climate change, so these half-truths must be better, right?

The reality is, there is no reason that this slight ideological shift will lead to any meaningful policy change by Republicans in power. GOP politicians are still funded by the same Big Oil companies as always, keeping them beholden to fossil fuels, which are the cause of human-induced climate change.

Of course these politicians want to mislead the public about human involvement in climate change. It is their last ditch effort to protect fossil fuel interests, since outright climate denial draws too much ridicule to further benefit companies such as ExxonMobil or Koch Industries.

The Republican Party has a history of creating policy based on their Big Oil donations. And the current Republican administration has direct links to the fossil fuel industry. The president has owned shares of several big oil companies, including those funding the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rex Tillerson has headed ExxonMobil, a company infamous for funding climate denial groups and more recently has neglected to include the Paris Climate Agreement into its financial plans. Rick Perry, the new Secretary of Energy, sits on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners, the company in charge of building DAPL.

Fossil fuel interests have found a cozy seat at the table with Trump’s presidency. Current republican flip-flopping on climate change does nothing to change that.

Statements by Trump and his cabinet, as well as any Republican who continues to avoid the truth of human-caused climate change, are falsehoods. They are nothing but a brilliant example of the government lying to the people about a proven fact. We live in a world where those appointed to protect us refuse to address an issue that could ruin our health and make huge swaths of the planet unfit to live in.

Climate change is the biggest threat that we face, with the potential to ruin the planet more than a nuclear war. Any attempt to be a “moderate” on the issue delegitimizes the government, and its purpose of protecting the people. We cannot forget this as we move forward, or be charmed by Republican half-truths.