claimed that scientists exaggerated the danger with a dismissive
statement that "our climate is always changing," and that "I don't know
of any era in world history where the climate has been stable." Rubio's
remarks were made a few days after he told CNN that President Obama
wasn't really qualified to speak on climate change since he was "not a
skepticism about whether climate change is occurring and whether human
activity is an agent of climate change is widely shared among GOP
legislators, party members and right-wing institutions across the United
States. The mere fact that the population of the earth has increased
from an estimated 620 million humans in 1700 A.D. to the current
estimate of 7.2 billion plus today is, from their perspective, utterly
irrelevant as is the evidence presented by NOAA and the overwhelming
majority of scientists who have seriously studied the issue of climate
refusal to acknowledge the existence of climate change is rooted in the
shared worldview of so many GOP adherents who are unable able to grasp
the conceptual distinctions between a scientific theory and an economic or a political theory and who consistently conflate personal opinions and beliefs with facts and data.
ignorance by hard scrabble,low-information citizens is only part of the
explanation. Paranoia also plays a part. Religious lunatics and
fundamentalists, increasingly fearful of creeping secularization and the
ascendancy of science as a challenge to many of their cherished myths
and fables, have also joined the ranks of the deniers and have now
become the functional equivalent of a Christian Taliban.
This point was recently highlighted in a recent New York Times' article by Alan Blinder ("Bryan College Is Torn: Can Darwin and Eden Coexist?", May 20, 2014). The small, self-described "Christian
liberal arts college" that was named after William Jennings Bryan has,
since its founding in 1930, insisted that faculty sign a statement of
belief as a part of their employment contracts. The statement of belief
expresses the institution's beliefs about creation and evolution, and
includes an assertion that: "The origin of man was by fiat of God." In
February of this year, however, college officials decided that faculty
members also had to agree to an additional statement that declared that
Adam and Eve "are historical persons created by God in a special
formative act, and not from previously existing life-forms."
president of Bryan College, Dr. Livesay, was quoted as having said, "We
want to remain faithful to the historical charter of the school and
what we have always practiced through the years. There has never been a
need, up until today, to truly clarify and make explicit what has been
part of the school for 84 years. We want to make certain that we view
culture through the eyes of faith, that we don't view our faith through
the eyes of culture. I don't think you have to believe the Bryan way in
order to be a strong evangelical. But this is Bryan College, and this is
something that's important to us. It's in our DNA. It's who we are."
reaction against modernity has increasingly become the right-wing's
narrative. Aside from the true believers, the movement has been funded
by corporate interests and an array of privately-funded "think-tanks"
that have commercial stakes in the current debates about public policy,
education, and the role that evidence-based research should play in the
formulation of environmental and economic regulations. Another New York Times by
Motoko Richmay ("Science Standards Divide a State Built on Coal and
Oil," May 18, 3104) explains why the even the Common Core Standards have
now become the subject of increasing attacks on the right.
quotes Susan Gore, the founder of the Wyoming Liberty Group, to the
effect that the new national science standards for schools were a form
of "coercion," and "I don't think government should have anything to do
with education." Ms. Gore, who is the daughter of the
founder of the company that makes Gore-Tex waterproof fabric, expressed
her convictions a few weeks after the Republican-controlled legislature
in Wyoming, where coal and oil interests are the paramount players in
the state's economy, became the first state to reject the standards,
which include lessons about the human impact on global warming.
Matt Teeters, a GOP State Representative from Lingle, was also reported in the article to have complained to The Casper Star-Tribune
that the standards "handle global warming as settled science" and that
"There's all kind of social implications involved in that, that I don't
think would be good for Wyoming." Teeters argued that such teaching
could wreck the economy of Wyoming, which is the country's largest
energy exporter. His objections to the new science standards were
seconded by Ron Micheli, chairman of the State Board of Education, who
claimed that the standard was "very prejudiced, in my opinion, against
fossil fuel development."
existence of this unholy alliance among GOP legislators, science
deniers, religious zealots, and a number of well-documented corporate
interests should be a source of concern to every sentient citizen. When
facts no longer matter, and anyone's delusions and fantasies are treated
as the equivalent of facts, citizens and their elected officials become
unable to make the kind of critical, nuanced and insightful
distinctions that are essential predicates for informed decision-making.
Public policies that are based upon careful research and evidence-based facts are increasingly threatened with inundation by the sea of propaganda that the deniers of reason and their corporate sponsors are able to undam. If not resisted vigorously now, one may discover that, over time, the very idea of democracy has become submerged along with our physical environment.