• Ed Flattau

The Chamber of Fools

The solution to climate change is for humanity to produce as many babies as possible.

This bizarre prescription for what ails the planet was proposed by Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah. He made the observation during a floor debate in which he engaged in tongue-in-cheek ridicule of the Democrats’ Green New Deal (GND). His off-the-wall demographic panacea was the only time he seemed serious in an otherwise cartoonish diatribe against the Democrats’ aspirational environmental goals.

Lee contended that the more people in the world, the greater the odds for the birth of a genius who could rescue the climate change-ravaged earth through technological innovation.

Unfortunately for Lee, it has been documented that runaway population growth drains finite life-sustaining natural resources, thereby lowering the overall standard of living. A potential Einstein born and bred in a crowded slum would likely be too preoccupied with daily survival to cultivate much less recognize his or her special talents.

Incidentally, research has been conducted that actually links rapid population growth to an increase in the greenhouse gas emissions associated with global warming.

Given the ominous scientific consensus and the recent global proliferation of destructive climate extremes, Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, called Lee’s mockery of the GND’s environmental goals “appalling”. “Making fun of the crisis of our generation,” Schatz said, “is no joke.”

Yet Lee was not alone in demeaning the GND in the Senate chamber that day. Majority leader Mitch McConnell derided the Democratic proposal as a “far left wish list” and “a socialist day dream”.

What was the object of his scorn? Just a high quality, sustainable environment, universal health care, and a decent paying job for all, to mention but a few of the Democrats’ aspirational goals. Talk about painting oneself into a corner!

her state was melting around her.

Republican Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa and David Perdue of Georgia took to the floor to lament the damage that unprecedented extreme weather inflicted on their respective states. No mention was made of climate change, an omission reflecting the denial that still permeates much of their party.

Although some Republicans no longer find denial tenable, politically or otherwise, they are hardly ready to join the Democrats in support of the GND. Instead, they revert to the GOP’s fallback position that Senator John Barrasso, R- Wyoming, articulated in the course of floor debate. Technological innovation, not taxation or regulation, is the solution to curbing climate change. Barrasso’s position reflects ideologically motivated antagonism to a prominent regulatory role for government. These Republicans would much prefer to deal with climate change through

voluntary remedial acts of the private sector, fueled by human ingenuity.

Barrasso and his fellow Republicans cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that climate change is a global scourge requiring a coordinated effort from the world’s governments in reining in greenhouse gas emissions.

Coping with climate change necessitates some conservation-oriented societal shifts in behavior that not everyone will voluntarily be inclined to adopt. Thus, Republican advocacy of the “carrot” without the “stick” approach in deference to corporate polluters won’t cut it. Carbon taxes and emission reduction regulations are in order.

How to characterize the Senate Republicans’ performance in that infamous debate? Calling it shameful might be a tad too harsh. With all due respect to Senator Schatz, what about “embarrassing” or maybe “alarming“?


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