Just a little over a week ago on April 22, 155 countries gathered in Paris, France to sign an agreement aimed at limiting the temperature rise induced by climate change. With so many countries agreeing on such an obvious occurrence, why on Earth are the Republican presidential candidates’ indifference to climate change? It is the quintessential example for where their motivations lie on public interests, as well as the overall lack of unity in the GOP, which has caused dysfunction to reverberate throughout the entire party.
At the point we are today: climate change is an issue every country should be in agreement with, and they are. Climate change scientists and climatologists from many countries come to the same conclusion– our world has consistently been increasing in surface temperature, sea levels are rising, and 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history. Hundreds of peer-reviewed journals written by climate experts all buy into the realization that climate change is real.
Yet, basically every single republican presidential candidate outright rejects the idea that climate change is occurring, or they have absolutely no interest in taking any steps to combat this world issue. In an interview with Katie Couric, Ted Cruz asserted that, ”Satellite data shows there has been no significant recorded warming. None”. He continually referenced this satellite evidence throughout his interview with Couric to infer that climate change is not occurring.
To many, this sounds convincing, but the only problem is satellites do not measure temperature. Instead, they measure microwave emissions of oxygen molecules very broadly throughout our atmosphere. These microwave recordings can be converted into an “estimate” of surface temperature, but the data is so broad and inconclusive, no scientist would confidently come to the synthesis that climate change is not occurring.
Cruz is not the only GOP candidate who feels this way, in an article published by NPR, the only serious presidential candidate who has made any reference to fighting climate change is John Kasich (big surprise), and Kasich just made statements that something should be done about climate change, but made no tangible proposal as to how.
Marco Rubio has made several statements claiming that the entire climate change issue is just a move by policymakers to gain more control over our economy and cultivate a big government (Cruz has stated this as well). How can statements such as these be taken seriously when seemingly every other world power is in agreement with the US? After 155 countries signed the Paris agreement just over a week ago, and in late 2014 Obama signed an agreement with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, to promote sustainable practices and make a shift towards low-carbon emitting energies.
Even more, Ben Carson has not even stated publicly whether climate change is real or not, and was quoted calling it, “irrelevant”. Most republicans have also criticized Obama for placing any emphasis on climate change, and instead should be fully focused on the fight against Isis and terror in the middle east. This red herring argument is so short-sided that it completely ignores the potential scope of what this issue could turn into in the future should the Republicans get their way.
If everyone else accepts what we already know to be true, then why do the faces of the republican party lobby for the opposite? The answer is private interests and institutions who look after these candidates financially, but how much longer will they be able to make these false assumptions and still be trusted?
If Republican candidates cannot agree on an issue as brazenly obvious as climate change, then how are we supposed to trust the validity of any statement they make? The Republican party is experiencing a great divide and deep turmoil at the moment. This is because they all appear to place their beliefs in favor of GOP elites and not in favor of the average citizen. The split in the GOP as of now is unlike other political rifts in the past in that there are no central issues causing a disagreement.
The party is simply all over the place and does not even support its top two candidates (in Cruz and Trump). Party insiders are doing everything they can to distance themselves from Trump, and Trump’s explosion of success articulates perfectly the dissatisfaction the GOP voters feel for their party. They do not believe that current candidates have their best interests in mind, but are instead catering to favor-buying institutions.
If the Republican party is to have any chance of recovering to back to political relevance, party leaders must look past their own self-righteous thirst for power and greed, and instead focus on what is best for all US citizens. Climate change is but one example of their incoherent political discourse. If action is not taken now, in a few decades the Earth could be looking at irreplaceable damage to our atmosphere. It is time the GOP got on board with the rest of the educated world and accept that no matter the economic ramifications, we have no choice but to lower our carbon footprint.