Group Of House Republicans Admits Climate Change Is Real Ahead Of Pope’s Visit

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Science Literacy climate changePope Francis is coming to Washington next week, and he’s sure to anger a lot of Republicans with his expected remarks on climate change. Granted, his views on income inequality and the Syrian refugee crisis are also controversial to conservatives – but the climate change thing has really got them angry.

Now a small number of House Republicans have decided to break ranks ahead of Pope Francis’ visit and admit that climate change is not only real, but that human activity is directly contributing to the problem.

Via The Guardian:

So far, at least 10 House Republicans have signed on to the resolution acknowledging that human activity contributes to climate change, and calling for actions to respond to the threat of climate change.

The res­ol­u­tion was drafted by Chris Gibson, a former US army colonel and congressman from New York who is not seeking re-election.

The resolution, calling for “conservative environment stewardship” was endorsed by representatives Ileana Ros-Le­htin­en and Car­los Cur­belo of Flor­ida, Robert Dold of Illinois, Dave Reich­ert of Wash­ing­ton, Pat Mee­han, Ry­an Cos­tello, and Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Richard Hanna and Elise Stefanik of New York, according to the National Journal.

A number of those representatives are also not seeking re-election or are from moderate districts. (Source)

That last sentence is the key to the story; there isn’t a lot of political risk for some of these members of Congress to add their names to this resolution. However, I believe that we should give credit to Republicans who do the right thing, even when it is safe or convenient for them to do so.

Accepting the overwhelming consensus that climate change is real and that humans are almost certainly a big contributing factor shouldn’t be a big political risk, but it is in the Republican Party which usually refuses to even admit that it exists. Taking a stance that would anger big money industrial donors like the Koch brothers who dismiss climate change is a good way to find yourself with a primary challenger and/or a loss of funds for your next campaign. I believe that many conservatives do accept that the world is getting warmer and sea levels are rising, but publicly stating their view would be met with hostility from other conservatives who feel that they have to oppose everything liberals support.

It’s a sad political climate we find ourselves in when a visiting religious leader who has actually studied science and has a technical degree in chemistry will have his message dismissed by members of his own religion, who are mostly lawyers, not scientists. (For the record, there is a staggering total of one member of Congress who has a doctorate in science.)

Neil deGrasse Tyson said that politicians reject science because voters tend to do so, but it is often in the short-term business interests of powerful donors as well. Sadly, quite a few religious people also reject science because they believe that the world will end within their lifetime, so it makes no difference if the sea levels swallow coastal cities – because Jesus is going to come back just as soon as we can kick off a nuclear holy war in the Middle East.

To even back away from actively attempting to sabotage climate change talks would be a big change of heart on the part of Republicans, and this is a refreshing bit of news, even if this resolution is mostly meaningless.

“What professions do all these senators and congressmen have? Law, law, law, law, business, law, law, law … Where are the scientists? Where are the engineers? Where’s the rest of … life?” – Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson


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