Tuesday, June 30, 2009


From the New York Times, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman on Republican opposition to the recently passed global warming bill:

Betraying the Planet

But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a “hoax” that has been “perpetrated out of the scientific community.” I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.

More here.

You know, it isn't at all unreasonable to say that dealing with global warming stands to gravely damage the economy, and therefore we ought to find ways of minimizing that damage as much as possible. It's never been unreasonable to say that. But that's not what conservatives did. Instead, they just straight-up denied that global warming is happening, or asserted that it will actually benefit the planet, or that it's a naturally occurring phenomenon, meaning we can't do anything about it. Needless to say, climate change denial and its goofy variants are entirely unreasonable. And, because conservatives have greatly warped public discourse with their non-stop global warming bullshit, it's extraordinarily dangerous, to boot.

This is doubly maddening because, beneath all the paranoid lies, conservatives have a point. Dealing with global warming will hurt industry and cost a lot of money. I mean, it's something we absolutely have to do, but there will definitely be costs. If the right wing had been honest with their concerns from the get-go, they would have earned a seat at the negotiating table. Instead, they shot their credibility, and have to watch from the sidelines. Nobody trusts them on this issue now.

Indeed, speaking more generally, this is one of the major problems facing conservatives right now. From sex education to evolution to weapons of mass destruction to magic markets to pollution and on and on, conservatives have long been content to ignore hard data in favor of the imagined realities that they desire. This actually worked well for them for many years, rhetorically pounding their opponents on the head with conservative "reality," confusing an already confused corporate news media which was all too happy to provide megaphones for the broadcasting of fiction. But it's all falling apart now. Reality, in the end, doesn't really give a shit what you say about it. That is, you can't argue for very long with the ground about whether you're falling toward it from a cliff before you become a splotch.

And even some Republicans are starting to understand this. I sincerely hope that if and when conservatives decide to embrace the notion that reality is actually real, we can return to some semblance of normal debate about issues. I mean, what we've got right now is just silly.