Dick Cheney Ushered in Era of GOP Climate Denial: NY Times


Photo: Creative Commons, Karen Ballard, Wikipedia

Former Vice President Dick Cheney may have been more responsible for the near-decade of climate inaction that the Bush administration oversaw than anyone else. It was he who hewed closest to the climate denial script a decade ago, and perfected the art of insistently calling into question peer-reviewed, consensus-backed science as an ironclad excuse for inaction. In an op-ed, the New York Times links Cheney's denial strategies to that same strategy employed by the current crop of GOP hopefuls -- almost all of which deny the science of climate change in much the same manner as the infamous ex-VP. Here's the opener:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has to be smiling. With one exception, none of the Republicans running for the Senate -- including the 20 or so with a serious chance of winning -- accept the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming.

The candidates are not simply rejecting solutions, like putting a price on carbon, though these, too, are demonized. They are re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy.

And I know, as happens whenever I post on this topic, commenters will call me out for over-generalizing or politicizing the issue of climate change. But the following is simply a sad fact: With the possible exception of Mark Kirk, every single one of the GOP candidates running for office this term publicly doubts or denies the science of climate change. To say the least, it's a strange stance for an entire political party to take against a body of science that is supported by an overwhelming consensus of 97% of climate scientists.

But the roots runneth deep. Here's the Times again:

According to Congressional inquiries, White House officials, encouraged by Mr. Cheney's office, forced the Environmental Protection Agency to remove sections on climate change from separate reports in 2002 and 2003. (Christine Todd Whitman, then the E.P.A. administrator, has since described the process as "brutal.")

The administration also sought to control or censor Congressional testimony by federal employees and tampered with other reports in order to inject uncertainty into the climate debate and minimize threats to the environment. Nothing, it seemed, could crack the [Bush] administration's denial -- not Tony Blair of Britain and other leaders who took climate change seriously; not Mrs. Whitman (who eventually quit after being undercut by Mr. Cheney, who worked for the energy company Halliburton before he became vice president and received annual checks while in office); and certainly not the scientists.

It wasn't always this way -- there used to be broad coalitions comprised of Republicans and Democrats alike that worked together to tackle the greatest environmental threats facing the nation and the planet. But not this time:
Nowadays, it is almost impossible to recall that in 2000, George W. Bush promised to cap carbon dioxide, encouraging some to believe that he would break through the partisan divide on global warming. Until the end of the 1990s, Republicans could be counted on to join bipartisan solutions to environmental problems. Now they've disappeared in a fog of disinformation, an entire political party parroting the Cheney line.
Pretty scathing stuff, for the NY Times. But pretty dead on.

More on GOP Climate Denial
Why Nearly Every GOP Senate Candidate is a Climate Skeptic
Why Are The Republicans The World's Only Major Political Party that Deny Climate Change?
Republicans ' Climate Change Talking Points Document Revealed

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