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The Fossil Fueled Republican Party and Climate Change

By Dr. Mike O’Loughlin

Article originally published 10:06 a.m. ET Dec. 7, 2018 | Updated 4:02 p.m. ET Dec. 7, 2018
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The US Geological Survey, a federal government agency, recently
issued its “National Climate Assessment” a report on climate change and
global warming. The scientific report states that “The evidence of
human caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to
strengthen…” with the principle cause being the burning of fossil fuels
and the release of carbon into our atmosphere. As a consequence,
climate change “poses a severe threat to Americans’ health and pocket
books, as well as to the country’s infrastructure and natural resources.”
The alarm is raised: catastrophic sea level rise; more powerful
hurricanes; more frequent and destructive wildfires. Billions of dollars
in damage and billions more lost in reduced productivity in the future of
our economy.
Importantly, this report merely affirms the consensus within the
scientific community. New in history, human caused climate change is
now a fact.
A rational response by the Trump Administration and the
Republican Party in power would be to take policy action geared to
reducing emissions and encouraging renewable energy.
Instead, Trump and his Party either deny the science or minimize
its conclusions: Trump, “I don’t believe it.” Sen. John Neely Kennedy,
“I’ve seen many persuasive arguments that it’s just a continuation of the
warming up from the Little Ice Age.” Or, newly elected Senator Marsha
Blackburn, “The jury is still out saying man is the cause for global
warming, after the earth started to cool 13 years ago.”
Why this response?
One reason could be that Republicans have suddenly become anti-
science which is to say they are irrational. This is unlikely. After all,

climate science is the same science that has generated modern medicine
and we know Republicans avoid voodoo witch doctors and make good
use of modern physicians. Republicans, usually well-heeled, have good
health care insurance!
A more plausible explanation is that the Republican Party and its
hold on power is richly dependent on the donor class of the fossil fuel
industry. This has been the case for decades. Notably, the Bush
family, including the twelve years of presidential power, nurtured strong
relationships with the oil and gas industry with Vice President Dick
Cheney prominently holding many face to face meetings with energy
industry executives during his tenure in office. Trump is merely
continuing Republican Party energy policy by encouraging more not less
drilling off shore and on.
In return, the industry has showered Republican candidates with
millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Recent evidence
indicates that roughly ninety percent of fossil fuel campaign
contributions go to Republicans.

In this light, we should understand Republican politicians as liars:
they know the truth about climate change but refuse to acknowledge it.
To do so would then commit them to take action, action that would upset
their donor base and then undermine their position in power.
In their present policy posture, the Republican Party is a danger to
our national security and to the world’s survival. So long as it refuses to
address this existential threat, we should look to others and vote
Republicans out of office at every election. We should do this for the
survival of the planet and the welfare of our children and grandchildren.