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Issue 45 / The Powerful Politicos Who Don't Believe In Climate Change

The Powerful Politicos Who Don’t Believe In Climate Change

Apr 14, 2016


Climate change has a heavy place in today's political circles. For some it's just a matter of fact. For others it's more of an opinion. And those in the latter hold some of the more powerful offices in the land.  

What is climate change exactly? It’s a relatively new topic that tends to elicit — depending on who you ask — fear, outrage or eye rolls.
 
Scientifically, it is caused by a layer of greenhouse gases primarily made up of water vapor, CO2 and nitrous oxide, that keeps some sunrays trapped within our atmosphere and prevents them from bouncing back up into space.
 
This happens naturally, and if it didn’t then no person alive would have a winter coat thick enough to survive.
 
However, there is debate as to whether or not we humans are responsible for contributing to the thickening of this insulation layer up in the sky. Why the debate? Isn’t there scientific proof to say that we most definitely are contributing?
 
In 2011, The International Journal of Public Opinion Research in America published the results of a questionnaire of 489 scientists working in academia, government, and industry. Ninety-seven per cent of them agreed that global temperatures have risen over the past century, 84 per cent agreed that "human-induced greenhouse warming is now occurring," five per cent disagreed, and 12per cent just didn't know.  

Lefsrud and Meyer surveyed members of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, an association of professionals representing the petroleum industry in Alberta, because their views have a heavy impact on government opinion and the opinion of environmental groups.

That study found that 99.4 per cent of those polled agreed that climate change is real, but only 36 per cent of them agreed that humans are the central cause. But did you expect them to throw the industry that employs them under the bus?

Let’s take a look at everyone’s favourite type of human: the politician.
 
Recently elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought the climate change topic to the table of the United Nations, stressing the importance of this topic as it affects every nation on earth. He and people like American presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders seem to get it. They’re hip, they care and they recycle their newspaper, right?
 
And then there are some powerful people who fluff this stuff off like a celebrity gossip rumour.
 
Fifty-six per cent of republicans deny climate change. Two of those people have been eating their words in the harshest and most embarrassing of ways.


 Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal didn't want Obama to talk about climate change. 
Photo Credit: www.atlantic.com 
 

Enter Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana — the same Louisiana that got rocked by Hurricane Katrina a decade ago and left it a watery mess. On August 26, 2015, the former governor wrote a letter to Obama asking him to not talk about climate change when the president attended New Orleans to mark the 10th anniversary of the disaster on August 27. In the letter, Jindal wrote, "The temptation to stray into climate change politics should be resisted. While you and others may be of the opinion that we can legislate away hurricanes with higher taxes, business regulations and EPA power grabs, that is not a view shared by many Lousianians."

Why all the hate, Bobby? It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that between 2003 and 2013 you received more than $1 million (USD)  in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies, could it?

Then there’s South Carolina — another state that got turned into a watery mess and got flooded between September 29 and October 7, 2015. The state is governed by Nikki Haley, another nay-sayer of climate change.


The South Carolina governor had some secrets.
Photo Credit: www.npr.org

After the EPA ruled to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants, effective on December 22, 2015, Governor Haley said on June 4, 2014, "This is exactly what we don't need. This is exactly what hurts us. You can't mandate utility companies which, in turn, raises the cost of power." 

I guess she was caught with her pants down. Karma, some might call it.

Or maybe she saw it coming, but chose to say nothing. How can you trust a government that supressed and hid a report pointing to the dangers of climate change? This report was a compilation of scientific findings that was completed in 2011 — the same year Haley took office — and warned of the dramatic effects climate change will have on South Carolina, including flooding. 


Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/latest-news/article14422400.html#storylink=cpy

And perhaps the most significant Republican — one who may not deny climate change outright, but diminishes human responsibility in the matter — is Ted Cruz. He may run the most powerful country in the world a year from now and during a campaign stop in North Conway, New Hampshire on January 19, 2016, Cruz said, “Climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory because it can never, ever be disproven. If it gets hotter or colder, wetter or drier — the climate has always changed since the beginning of time. It will continue to change until the end of time.”


US Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz doesn't believe that climate change is an issue.

 
Unless he’s right, and this could just be a point in history similar to “everyone believes the world is flat so therefore it must be?"
 
And on the flipside, some politicians may be playing the climate change card to appeal to the conservative, planet health-conscious youth vote who would lecture you until we’re all under water if you don’t recycle that paper cup after you’ve used it.  
By why take the risk? Do you really want to end up looking like Bobby and Nikki, Ted? Better to take precaution than not.
 
Or some naysayers may have a stake or a friend in an oil company, or a gas company, or some other company that thrives as the world dies. They don’t want the primitive energy sources to go away, because then the dollars in the bank would go away. They would rather see all electric vehicles gathered up and burned in the town square. Who knows.
 
Whatever the case, long-term records from weather stations, ocean buoys, tide gauges, satellites, etc. all show that the world as a whole is warming, so unless they’ve all been hacked by Al Gore (the former vice president who also won an oscar for his climate change documentary The Inconvenient Truth) then it appears that precipitation patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, and the weather is getting more and more nasty on a more frequent basis.
 
So if these technological readings along with the vast majority of scientists are correct, and we humans are responsible for current climate change dangers, then those in office hold the time bomb to our fate.

India has already taken a proactive approach in the matter since 2008. That's when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released India's first National Action Plan on Climate Change which will run until 2017. It will drastically reduce emissions, add 300,000 MW of renewable energy capacity, and all this while adding an average eight per cent annual GDP growth.

Also in 2008, the U.K. brought forth the Climate Change Act, which will, amongst other things, cut emissions by at least 80 per cent from the levels in 1990. The target is 2050. 

But back to India, prime minister since 2014 — Narendra Modi — has vowed for his country to do their part in helping to lower the amount of fumes in the air. India has promised that by 2030, it will source 40 per cent of its electricty from various low-carbon sources such as renewables. Also, on December 24, 2014, under the rule of Prime Minister Modi, India has commissioned the construction of a floating solar power plant, India's first 10kW floating solar power plant, in Bengal. It will last for more than 25 years and will produce a minimum of 14MWh solar power annually. India has also built a massive solar power energy gathing behemoth in Gujarat designed to guzzle up those natural rays as an alternative to filling up the atmophere with dirty emissions. It is half a mile long with 3,600 panels.

Seems like they have the right idea. Better to take precautions than absolving yourself of respnsibility. 

Are you under the rule of a naysayer? What can you do? Well, you could send them angry letters in the mail, but then again you could always imprision them

Whether its because of obligations towards energy sector companies, loyalty to  constiuents, tax loopholes or because of your deeply religious convictions, one thing is definite not up for debate: that the climate change debate won't be over any time soon. 

Main Image Photo Credit: sites.psu.edu

Taras Babiak

Taras Babiak

Author

Taras is a freelance blogger, video editor and screenwriter. He is the co-writer of "Made In Bali," which recently won Best Short Film of the year from the Director's Guild of Canada. 

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