NPR recently ran a story reporting that most Republican candidates for U.S. Senate assert that human activities are not contributing to climate change. One has even called climate change a "hoax." Never mind that the facts show otherwise.
And, armed with these beliefs, many in the GOP are preparing for an all-out assault on the EPA’s proposals to protect our air and planet.
What’s happening here? Some see fundamentalism. But others point to political contributions from Big Coal, among others. As Tim Rutten of the LA Times observed on Saturday, Big Coal and Big Oil appear to be stealing pages from Big Tobacco’s playbook:
Some of the tea party’s biggest funders, including Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, are creatures of the oil and coal companies. They’ve also supported virtually the entire network of fringe scientists, think tanks and publishers who over the past few years have raised a host of spurious questions and allegations concerning the consensus on climate change among reputable scientists.
They’re the same individuals and companies putting up big money to support Proposition 23, which would gut California’s attempts to reduce carbon emissions. Koch Industries and Murray Energy Corp. already are major givers to the U.S. Senate’s biggest deniers, including James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who has called global warming "the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
Think back to the billions Big Tobacco spent on the long guerrilla war to stave off regulation of its death-dealing products and you’ve pretty much got the picture here, although this time around, the corporate manipulators are hoping that they’ve co-opted the climate skeptics in order to fill the oil and coal companies’ coffers for years to come.
When the facts are against you, buy disbelief. And maybe an election or two. And if Big Oil and Big Coal can stave off regulation for a few decades, the shareholders can be kept happy, even if that means keeping the planet on a path to unstoppable, drastic change. After all, what’s really important here?