Bob Woodward’s new tell-all book, Rage, reveals specific evidence that Donald Trump knew about the severity of Covid-19 (C-19) before it ravaged our nation, killing nearly 200,000 and sinking our economy. Not only did Trump willfully withhold information that he knew would save lives, but he also actively lied about the virus, and continues to invite supporters to mass gatherings against all medical advice. The same is true of Republican political leaders who are knowingly deceiving the public about global warming. Nowhere is this more evident than with Congressman Tom McClintock in California’s 4th District, who is currently in a tight race against his Democratic opponent Brynne Kennedy.
The tragic effects of global warming which climate scientists have been warning us about for over fifty years are here, and they are more deadly than C-19. Unlike the virus, scientists will not soon be creating a vaccine to end global warming, so it will continue to get more deadly and more costly until we dramatically cut green house gas emissions.
In the United States, the main obstacle to taking the necessary action to mitigate global warming is the deceit of Republican politicians like McClintock regarding the findings of climate science. Scientists know what is causing global warming and how to fight it, and political leaders have had access to this knowledge for decades.
The effects of global warming are occurring all over the world. Here is a taste of what’s going on in McClintock’s 4th District where I live:
- Our energy was recently turned back on after a two-day black-out due to extreme fire hazards. These occur when dry heat and wind combine to create a fire threat so extreme that PG&E is compelled to shut off all electrical equipment so it doesn’t cause a deadly fire. This occurred last year in Paradise, during a fire which killed 85 people.
- We haven’t been going outside because California has been suffocating from the smoke from record-breaking wildfires. In my area, it is the Creek Fire which has so far consumed nearly 250,000 acres of the Sierra National Forest. This year we have suffered six of the twenty largest wildfires in California’s history, and fire season is not over.
- My county is officially in another drought, as there has been below average rain and snowfall for ten of the last fifteen years.
In the midst of our suffering, all of these predicted symptoms of global warming, a number of my neighbors are rethinking the prospect of another term for McClintock, who is one of his party’s most outspoken climate science deniers.
I recently wrote McClintock to plead with him to side with reason and compassion and quit his denial of climate science. In return, I received a formula letter that stated why he remains in denial, but his reasons don’t make sense.
The climate science that evidences human activity as the root cause of global warming is clear and obvious. McClintock is college educated, so one hopes he gets it. This leads me to suspect he is intentionally deceiving the public in a way that is analogous to Trump’s deceptions regarding C-19.
There is no credible refutation of the scientific evidence that current global warming is caused by the human production of greenhouse gases. It is as clear and obvious as the evidence that smoking tobacco causes lung cancer, or that distancing and wearing face masks can protect us from C-19. Denying the evidence for any of these claims could only result from insincerity or a severe intellectual disability. Here in a nutshell is the argument regarding the link between human activity and global warming:
- The global temperature of earth is increasing, which we know because we take the planet’s temperature. No sincere and reasonable person refutes this.
- There are greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, which heat up the planet. We know this partly because if it were not for greenhouse gases the planet would be too cold for us to survive. In other words, in moderation, greenhouse gases are good for us and our lives depend on them. No sincere and reasonable person refutes this.
- Since the industrial age (starting around 200 years ago) humans have been emitting massive amounts of extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, mostly by the exhaust from burning fossil fuels like coal and oil. We know this because we know what comes out of exhaust pipes, and we can measure the increase of these gases in our atmosphere. No sincere and reasonable person refutes this.
The fact that no sincere and reasonable person would refute the three claims above regarding global warming explains why over 75 US-based science organizations, including NASA, who we trust to put people on the moon, have official statements that affirm these climate science findings.
When Republican politicians like Trump or McClintock object to climate science they are disagreeing with the overwhelming consensus among experts who earned PhDs in various earth sciences from the most prestigious universities in the world. Their objections to these scientists are analogous to your plumber’s disagreement with a team of highly qualified oncologists about a family member’s cancer treatment. You should follow your plumber’s advice about your septic tank, but please don’t regarding a loved one’s cancer treatment.
The argument I presented to McClintock was similar to what I wrote above, and I included the list of the 75 professional science organizations that assert that global warming is caused by human activity. In a standard reply, McClintock shared two pseudo reasons why he, at least publicly, denies climate science.
First, McClintock claimed, “Simply adding more regulations based on suspect science will not change natural climate patterns.” In other words, he believes the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is not factual or sound. McClintock continued:
“The Earth’s climate is constantly changing and has been since the planet formed over four billion years ago. We know that during the medieval warm period, from the 10th through the 13th centuries, wine grapes were grown in northern Britain, and Iceland and Greenland supported a thriving agricultural economy. We also know that during the Little Ice Age that followed, the Thames River froze solid every winter and advancing ice sheets destroyed many towns in Europe.”
As of this writing McClintock has not provided any credible scientific evidence that puts into question the findings of climate science. He has a BA in Political Science from UCLA so is not qualified to refute that evidence on his own. This also explains why he is confused about the “medieval warm period” and “Little Ice Age,” which have nothing in common with current global warming.
The climatic events he referenced were not global but regional anomalies that occurred in the North Atlantic. Further, the fact that they occurred naturally is irrelevant to our current case, which we know is human caused and can be human remedied. Finally, during the medieval period, there were an estimated 300 million people living on the entire planet, while today there are 8 billion. Whatever occurred then pales next to our current crisis, which some scientists predict will become a sixth global extinction event.
McClintock also said, “I firmly believe that the United States should not hamstring its economy in an attempt to combat climate change.” Here he argued that other countries like China and India are not addressing climate change, so unilaterally doing so will make us less competitive. However, the opposite is true as both China and India remain parties to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, while Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of it in 2017.
McClintock’s second reason is what logicians refer to as a non-sequitur. Though it is true that stopping global warming will have profound economic effects, that has nothing to do with whether it is happening or not, or what we need to do to curtail it.
One wonders why Republicans like McClintock have such little faith in America. I asked him why converting our energy infrastructure to non-polluting sources, as Democrats propose, wouldn’t instead create economic opportunities, but I received no answer. I also didn’t receive an answer when I asked about the economic toll of the wildfires and droughts we are currently suffering in his district, which are harming his constituents as I write.
Our Earth is so small that we can fly to the other side of it in less than one day. The atmosphere that we depend on to live is only 60 miles high, which is analogous to a one hour drive on a freeway. After that, it’s all space. Given the facts, it’s easy to realize that we can and are filling the earth’s atmosphere with our waste products. Let’s elect politicians who understand this and will act to curtail global warming.
Keith Law retired from Merced College’s Department of Philosophy last year.
Keith Ensminger says
I’m glad people like him weren’t around during the Ozone depletion that began around 40 years ago caused by chemical compounds containing gaseous chlorine or bromine from industry and other human activities.
Eric Caine says
Keith Ensminger: They were around, but at that time the American people still believed in science. Now they’d rather drink Clorox. Different times.
Josep Smith says
Our “black vs white” discourse prevents rational discussions by our political community.. (Who is wearing the black hat and ho the whit hat depends on one’s political stance.)
Our response to the Global Warming challenge is an example. The truth is that, even if we shut off all man-caused greenhouse emissions throughout the world, , temperatures will continue to rise for a significant time.. In other words, “falling on one’s sword” by immediately stripping ourselves of energy affects the outcome by only a small amount.
At the same time, as the name implies, fossil fuels a are a finite resource. That means that, over time, we will indeed become more or less carbon and methane free except for biological processes.
The result is our best strategy is to find ways to accommodate the results of the warming.. For example, returning to a forest management strategy that more closely emulates the natural periodic burn and regrowth of forests will reduce the severity of fires. Further, done right, a large fraction of the woody. materials could be harvested, which will reduce the carbon emitted from their decay.
A host of other intentionally serendipitous strategies can be implemented so we can minimize the extremes caused by human activities on natural cycles.
At the same time we know the sea levels are and will continue to rise. That forces us to deal with results either abruptly because of major storms or gently by planning and implementing storm-friendly planning for cities.. An in-between strategy might be to create plans for rebuilding destroyed cities on higher ground rather forcing reconstruction in areas we know will be hit even harder in the not so distant future.
Keith law says
By analogy then, a lung cancer patient shouldn’t quit smoking, they should just make room for more oxygen tanks and chemo drips.
My friend, we need to do two things at the same time, and we can and must.
Richard Anderson says
Great essay on this problem, and congratulations on confronting McClintock. I lived in Columbia 1977-1989 and have known the frustration of electrical outings, choking smoke and the fear of wildfires.
I sincerely hope that Tuolumne County residents will finally recognize the dangers of having another two years of Mr. McClintock, continuing to threaten their lives.
Damon Woods says
Ah yes, the myth of global warming. Too bad such articles don’t check in with scientiests. It seems only politicians and non scientist cry foul. But, that is what you folks on the left always do- create a problem out of thin air, then proceed to blame Republicans for the problem. it is really too bad that Democrats can’t stop complaining and work towards a solution- vs. always wining about what the republicans’ say and do. CAn you please get some real scientists to ‘chime in’ on such an issue? I am not referring to a political scienntist…. oh well, what is the use- you folks just love to complain about all the drama you dream up.
Eric Caine says
Mr. Woods: You seem confused. It was scientists who first sounded the alarm on global warming and it is scientists who continue to issue the warnings. Where do you get your information?
Damon Woods says
From real scientists, who bring out the cycle of facts. Measuring the temperature of the earth isn’t so simple. The earth goes through natural cycles of warmth and cooling periods. Many scientists believe by the year 2100, the earth will be faced with a coolling period., where those still here will wish for some coal plants. As to Bob Woodward’s fake news book- interestsing that he places all teh blame on Trump….which is precisely what you left wing nuts do all the time. I wonder why Pelosi and Feinstein traded their stocks in early January to reap $50 Million profits – rather than sounding the alarm…. Trump put forth travel bans in February- and you lot called him a racist. Hypocrites is where the Democrats can place teh blame- look in the mirror.
Damon, that’s all really weird stuff. Are you reading and paying attention at all?
Rossean Hunter says
Hi Damon, you might remember my husband and I, we have enjoyed working with you and know you to be a kind, community-minded person and I hope you feel the same about us. You organized our small canvassing group so we were all able to stand up for Linda Santos’ place on the OID board. Together we all saved her from losing her seat, and later we all worked together for Grover Francis. We all wanted the same: Representatives with backbone and a willingness to listen to all constituents, make independent pro-community decisions and protect our local water.
In fact, Eric Caine and the Valley Citizen itself has played a large part in informing me on local water politics.
Scientists help solve so many problems important to us. There’s no reason to believe a politician over scientists unless the politician is accurately passing onto us widely researched, tested and held scientific facts. The Democratic party has been doing that, only the Republican or conservative parties have abandoned scientific facts.
My husband (Vietnam Vet, working electrician, raised in and working in Oakdale) and I (Army brat grammar-schooled in WI, PA, CO and on base overseas) are lifelong Democrats. I was in the past married to a Republican who grew up farming in the valley with his dad. In 1975, with our own hands, we began building a passive-solar, energy-efficient home together in which he still lives. Do you recall that back in the 1960s through at least the 1980s Republican party leaders clearly acknowledged the reality and impending danger of man-made Global Warming? Reagan even signed an international treaty to protect the ozone, which also required his acceptance of worldwide scientific findings. But conservatives gradually made a political calculation about global warming and worked to create phony doubt with a few willing sellouts. Their false position can only be explained by threats of nonsupport from the fossil fuel industry and other political donors who feared being negatively impacted by a transition to alternative energies. This idea of “doubt” is similar or related to actions around the 1960’s when corporate tobacco industry lawyers abused cancer and industry research to create “reasonable doubt” to use in court when they were sued by people, or those on their behalf, who were dying of lung cancer. Industry tactics were eventually exposed when their internal research and communications became public. As I understand it, that model of “creating doubt” was then repurposed to create doubt about global warming when there never has been real doubt that humans are causing it, and no doubt that it is changing and negatively impacting weather, water levels and life and there is no doubt that with enough initiative and cooperation we can abate it. Scientists have noted human-caused warming since at least the 19th century and in our lifetime presidents up to when George H. W. Bush took office were advised by experts that human carbon activity was dangerously warming the planet, until the Republican party began playing that “doubt” card. They get away with it because scientists as a group “stay in their lane” of expertise, working with facts and avoiding politics.
We have had a summer that was the hottest on record but even someone who grew up here like my husband or lived here several decades like me can see weather events have become much more variable, the days of triple digits more numerous and unbroken by occasional cooling days as it used to be. I acknowledge fuel sources need to be removed and managed. We have plenty of private property in our own area that should be kept mowed down and cleared of dead trees and branches, but as I understand it, that’s not going to solve the problem of rising seas, the impact on weather and temperature, agriculture, human, animal and plant life.
I’m someone who was raised in the church, but I am angry that the USA is losing our leadership and world competitiveness because of what I see as a trend in conservative leaders to now discard science as something that can’t co-exist with religious beliefs. I suspect it is because science is tied to logic and it’s easier to manipulate voters tied to emotion and that bugs me. This piece and the comments caused me to pick up the phone and ask my ex if his concerns about global warming or respect for the science have changed along with the conservative party to which he’s registered. His concerns have NOT changed and he’s no longer willing to overlook conservative leaders’ now obvious departure from scientific leadership. In fact he’s pissed. Conservative leaders should not be intentionally misleading us with their politics or disrespecting the scientific community which has undeniably contributed to America’s centuries of greatness. This issue should once again transcend politics.
Rosen, the story you shared is amazing!
Your wisdom must be shared.
Please write an article as your story should be read by everyone.