Where Will Intelligent Life Be Uncovered First? The Outer Reaches of the Observable Universe, or the Republican Party of the USA?

Opening an article like this one is a spin-the-wheel style game of chance, because the Republican Catalogue of Categorical Stupidity is a fat one. For example, this particular piece doesn’t, but could easily, concern the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. Through their votes, Republican Congressmen revealed themselves to be resolute partisans in a manner which would have been historical had the very same party not contorted themselves sideways upon the nomination of their President-to-be only two years ago, notable for being the first U-turn visible from space.

The brazen dismissal of the possibility of a just investigation into Kavanaugh upon becoming the new Republican’s poster boy came at the end of a mere week-long FBI investigation, held by a Bureau which itself said that nine weeks were required to do the job properly. Some Republicans celebrated that particular day’s premature resolution of yet another sexual assault case by cracking wise. Texan Senator John Cornyn has this to offer:

To celebrate the solidification of your political beliefs in the highest court in the land is one thing… to do so by referencing a key contributing factor in an assault case is something more revealing.

This Fox & Friends co-host had this to contribute to the shifting cultural conversation regarding sexual assault:

Pete is seemingly unaware that the contents of the late George Washington’s colostomy bag probably tasted better than Budweiser beer.

In one instance Parkersburg City Councilman Eric Barber was caught (as much as you can be caught posting a Facebook comment visible to anyone) joking that, with Kavanagh’s historic doubts about Roe v Wade, liberals “better get you’re [sic] coathangers ready”. A remarkably tasteless reference to illegal abortion practises? Yes. But also, crucially, very stupid indeed. Legalising abortions has been empirically proven to reduce the amount of abortions which take place.

This article could also deal with numerous other flops, such as a renegotiated NAFTA deal which the President sold as a tentpole campaign promise but essentially boiled down to a few minor tweaks; betraying the economic populism which Trump leant on when he felt like it is campaign speeches. Or there’s the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran Deal, probably the sweetest deal any two nuclear states have ever come to in our state of international anarch. Iran dismantled their entire nuclear arms programme in return for the United States removing sanctions which they imposed illegally in the first place. The only explanation for the Republican Administration pursuing such a withdrawal seems to be blind partisanship since Obama was the one who signed off on the deal. Now international belief in the word of the United States is in tatters, Iran is in a fundamentalism-fuelling economic crisis and are back to firing anti-ship missiles.

Instead however, this article targets the Republican’s most significant act of sheer bamboozling idiocy, concerning the most pressing issue humanity faces in the 21st Century. It was the Republican attitude to this particular issue which led Noam Chomsky to deem the party “the most dangerous organisation in human history“. That issue is their party-line on climate change.

Last month the Republican administration released it’s draft Environmental Impact Statement, and it included a shocking about-face on the existence of the changing climate. The report actually settled on one of the upper-estimates posited for the predicted rise in global temperatures by 2100, stating that the Earth may see a rise of as much as 7 degrees by then. The real-world implications of such an ecological shift are catastrophic, so this is an alarming conclusion. However, the report did not revert the administration’s stance on climate action. Instead it proclaimed that preventing such a fate “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels and would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible”.

The United States is currently the world’s only country who is not a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement, which it withdrew from in 2017. It is also the world’s largest emitter of fossil fuels. Despite a large majority of the inaction on climate change being stymied in the United States by fossil-fuel funded conservative think-tanks who have run a decades-long misinformation campaign in contradiction of the 90-100% scientific consensus on the anthropomorphic origins of climate change, the Republican’s logic is sound here: the best course of action is definitely to take no course of action at all.

Furthermore, as part of the administration’s nuance-less, ideological deregulation campaign, Trump has announced that a new proposal will allow states to establish emissions standards for coal-fired power plants rather than expediting their elimination, as under Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The new proposal means emissions from coal will be reduced by 0.7% by 2030, as opposed to the CPP’s planned 19% cut.

Lets be clear: the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that, should the planet warm by more than 2° above the level at which it stood pre-industrially, coastal and low—lying communities could be drowned by meter-high sea level rises; intense wild fires could consume much of the planet’s remaining forests; there could be periods of heavy flooding in certain regions of the world and severe drought in temperamentally arid regions and other existential consequences. The climate is currently set to pass a 1.5° rise by 2040.

Fossil fuels provide 78% of all power used by humans (90% if traditionally sourced biomass is excluded), and every year approximately 55 billion tons of fossil energy, minerals, metals and biomass are extracted from the Earth and released into the atmosphere when burnt as fuel for the planet’s transportation, production and harvesting habits. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has increased by over 30% since the pre-industrial era, instigating a potentially catastrophic global temperature rise of 2° by the mid-point of the 21st Century. In response to this, the IPCC conceived of a Global Carbon Budget, claiming that humans can only emit 1 trillion more tonnes than pre-industrial levels to stand a reasonable chance of staying below this threshold. Some claim that this estimate is conservative, as it does not include other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, but even so a recent IPCC report concluded that half of this budget has already been used and the trillion tonne limit could be passed by 2045 if we continue at our current rate of emissions.

To dismiss the future stability of mankind for the sake of short-term profit motive by a handful of individuals is the stuff of a death cult.

This disastrous path not only poses genuine threats of resource shortages, an unprecedented refugee crisis and a renewed situation of international conflict, but poses all-manner of challenging philosophical questions regarding man’s historical dominion over the habitat in which we reside. To do nothing, as the world’s greatest emitter, is to doom much of the globe to such a fate, for the sake of sheer partisanship. When Trump was supposedly undecided about withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, 22 Republican senators wrote to the President urging that he did so. These 22 men were later revealed to have received a collective $10 million in donations from fossil fuel and oil interests over the previous decade. Those interests certainly got a return on their investment.

The Republican’s newfound acceptance of climate science, only to double-down on their unwillingness to do anything about it, makes Chomsky’s comment seem typically astute. Republicans know that some action is better than no action, and an entire aversion of a 7 degree precipice is just about possible if we act today. Hell, we could theoretically provide energy which would power the entire planet by harnessing the sunlight which hits just 1% of the Sahara Desert. To dismiss the future stability of mankind for the sake of short-term profit motive by a handful of individuals is the stuff of a death cult.

This is what happens when the ideology of a great many of the most vocal conservatives in America such as Ben Shapiro and Steven Crowder essentially boils down to “trigger the libcucks!”. Sure, you’ve got me, I’ve written 1500 words on this so colour me triggered… But at the end of the day, it’s also a monumentally ignorant approach. Largely because, even at points of considerable ideological diversion, the dismissal of the concerns of either side of the political spectrum is done at great risk. It cost Hilary Clinton the election when she casually called a third of those she was trying to gain the support of “a basket of deplorables”, and in the case of climate change will lead to a devastatingly disruptive ecological breaking point in our very lifetimes.

Jordan Peterson said it well when he proposed that both left and right have their proper place in political discourse. Climate change, with solutions requiring strong communitarian action, is indeed a proper concern of the left. It’s also the most just concern imaginable as it will ultimately affect us all; our children, and our children’s children. The ridiculous partisanship of the Republican Party in the US congress and senate, seen also in the recent confirmation of Kavanaugh, cannot be afforded in the case of climate chaos. In the rejection of both abortion rights and climate change, the Republicans are left as a party which cares deeply about your rights as a fertilised egg, but couldn’t give a shit about them the second you emerge from the womb. Call it ideology, call it partisanship, either way: there’s little more stupid than that.

Words by Liam Inscoe – Jones.

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