Were you born yesterday? Did you only recently, in the past few hours, gain sentience and become conscious? If so, the party of fossil fuel campaign contributions and climate denial has a new message for you: Conservatives take climate change seriously, and it’s actually climate activists who are anti-science!
Now, if you didn’t wake up from a cryogenic slumber this morning with no recollection of the past 50 years of conservative service to polluters and disdain for environmental protections, you may not need to be told that the Republicans at COP26 are not there in good faith to try and advance climate solutions, and that their two-day sideshow is only slightly less embarrassing than the deniers at CFACT staging what they call a “stunt,” a 2-man, 1-Nessie “parade.”
But for the sake of those who have landed here on Planet Earth only moments ago, and have no way to know whether or not these conservative self-appointed climate champions are serious, we’ll address Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s comments at COP26 that it’s really the left who are “anti-science” on climate change.
We found his comments to the Washington Post thanks to a tweet by Steve Milloy, whose “JunkScience” website and handle are a throw-back to his days attacking the science connecting smoking to cancer. After failing to protect the tobacco industry from regulations protecting children et al. from second-hand smoke, Milloy pivoted to protecting the fossil fuel industry from regulations, finding much more success there. He’s basically the poster child of the “it’s a hoax” brand of denial the GOP is now pretending to eschew, and his take on Crenshaw’s comments were that it was bad that he acknowledged sea level rise is happening, but good that he questioned climate policy on economic grounds.
The reporter asked Crenshaw about former President Obama’s comments calling Republicans anti-science, and he responded with a reflexive 'I know you are but what am I?' saying it's Obama and the Dems who are actually anti-science. When asked how, he, like all the conservatives supposedly on the other side of the climate fight now, deliberately misrepresented Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s quote paraphrasing youth activists not having patience with the right's "but what will it cost?" excuses for inaction as though she were speaking literally about the world ending in 12 years.
What’d he do next? Pivot to the exact "but what will it cost?" excuse AOC was saying people aren't putting up with any more!
Aside from that, Crenshaw doesn't actually answer the question of who’s really anti-science, but he does effectively use it as an excuse to attack the congresswoman his fellow House Republican is posting about killing. Because, you know, conservatives are serious about solving climate change!
But, again, to be fair to the point of hopeless gullibility, it turns out that even making the most optimistic assumption, their plan fails to even meet their own goals, which are actually even weaker than some oil companies'!
Republicans countered Democrat’s climate policies with a goal of reducing global emissions by 40% by 2050, far short of the net zero by 2050 timeline the science dictates to avoid dangerous levels of warming beyond the Paris Agreement’s 2°C.
The GOP’s plan is to sell natural gas, build new nuclear, and rely on carbon capture and sequestration to reduce emissions. But even IF carbon capture actually worked (the only pilot project in the US failed) their plan would still only reduce emission by 14%, according to analysis by Climate Interactive.
The conservative plan would lead to 3.1°C of warming, twice the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C aspiration to keep island nations from being sunk by rising seas, and well beyond the 2°C goal that new research finds would lead to 1 billion people being exposed to lethal heat conditions for at least 10 days a year. At 4°C, the UK’s Met Office estimates 3.5 billion people will face additional potentially lethal heat, so apparently the GOP is willing to let a couple billion extra people die in the heat rather than actually reduce fossil fuel emissions. Which, to their credit, is pretty on brand with their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
And make no mistake, it’s not like they’re ready to compromise. As Corbin Hair at E&E pointed out in a recent story about the GOP’s pretend conversion, the congressional conservatives who pretended to support the climate policy immediately turned against it when it’s time to vote.
Like Crenshaw’s comments at COP, Rep Garret Graves suddenly got worried about the cost of climate action when the policy he had, only months earlier, expressed support for became real. (Surely this has nothing to do with the fact that his biggest campaign donor industry is oil and gas.)
And it’s not like inaction is cheap! As a great piece from Buzzfeed reports, the cost of NOT taking action on climate change is already well into the billions. In fact, when Hurricane Harvey hit Crenshaw’s home state of Texas, climate change caused an additional $13 billion in damages.
Someone who still believes he’s serious about climate should tell Crenshaw, who was the top recipient of the petro-adjacent chemical industry campaign contributions in the 2021-22 cycle so far, and maybe he’ll return the $663,434 he’s gotten from the Oil and Gas industry, and get to work on a plan to protect his constituents in Texas from the impacts of burning fossil fuels.
Or maybe he’ll just say he will, while actually making sure the polluters who fund him don’t face any regulations that may dampen their profits. That seems to be the plan so far, anyway.