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National Issues

The GOP on climate change: delusional, conspiratorial, cowardly

Scientists have long maintained that climate change is real, a major threat to our planet and a man-made problem. But ask any of the leading GOP candidates and they’ll tell you something quite different.

No longer the party of “Reagan the environmentalist” or Nixon the creator of the Environmental Protection Agency, today’s GOP embodies delusional, conspiratorial and cowardly positions on climate change, one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Take Marco Rubio, who doesn’t believe “human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate in the way these scientists are portraying it.” Or Rand Paul, who insists that climate change research is “not conclusive.” Fine, except countless studies have shown that evidence of climate change is conclusive, and is most definitely man-made.

Yet candidates like Jeb Bush continue to complain about “this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.”

The problem is that this not a matter of opinion. These are facts. We can disagree on cultural and social issues. We can even debate the economic impact that fighting global climate change may have, the sacrifices doing so will likely involve. These are reasonable debates, but whether climate change is real and whether it’s a threat is no longer a matter of debate. “These scientists” are not giving us opinions. They are alerting us that something must be done now, telling us what we must know in order to ensure our survival.

But while Rubio and Paul remain unconvinced by a mass of evidence and poor picked-on Bush complains that the scientists are not allowing him his own facts, the climate change denials get even more frightening when we listen to the leading candidates.

Ben Carson has rejected the notion that scientists know what’s happening to our climate: “We may be warming,” he has said, or “we may be cooling.”

Donald Trump, for his part, has been even clearer on where he stands: “I’m not a believer in global warming, I’m not a believer in manmade global warming,” he has said. In one tweet, he went full conspiracy theorist: “The concept of global warming,” he tweeted, “was made by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

Yes, despite near-unanimous consensus on the part of the scientific community that climate change poses an enormous risk to our species and “an urgent and growing threat” to our national security, leading Republicans continue to deny the undeniable. In the face of overwhelming, clear evidence to the contrary, these candidates’ positions on the issue are not only demonstrably wrong; they are dangerous.

Voters should remember that what we do (or not do) today will have tremendous repercussion for future generations and determine the kind of world and the kind of life we leave to our children and grandchildren. We can be selfish and ignore the problem, or we can be a courageous nation and do something about it before it is too late.


Eladio Bobadilla, from Durham, N.C., is a third-year Ph.D. student in the department of history at Duke.

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