Science is our best method for figuring out reality. It provides us with a method to rigorously test our ideas to find out if they are right or wrong. We can discard bad ideas, keep good ones, and that way get ever-closer to being able to understand what the Universe is actually trying to tell us.
Scientists are necessarily conservative when it comes to consensus. It takes years, decades, of testing ideas to build an agreement on what's what. At first, many will argue against it, but eventually, as evidence piles up, the scientists will come to terms with the new idea, and use it as the default position.
When it comes to global warming, that consensus has been built. The vast majority -- and I do mean vast -- of climate scientists agree that the Earth is warming, and while evidence is still coming in, most of these scientists agree warming is due to human causes.
So what does it say when every single Republican candidate running for Senate this autumn is either a denier of man-made global warming or disputing facts about it we know are true?
It's actually quite amazing. 37 seats are up for grabs in November, and of the 37 Republicans (and their Frankensteinian offspring, the Tea Party) running for these seats, not a single one supports taking any action on global warming*.
A comprehensive Wonk Room survey of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate finds that nearly all dispute the scientific consensus that the United States must act to fight global warming pollution. In May, 2010, the National Academies of Science reported to Congress that “the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change” because global warming is “caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems.”
This finding is shared by scientific bodies around the world. However, in the alternate reality of the fossil-fueled right wing, climate science is confused or a conspiracy, and policies to limit pollution would destroy the economy.
That last bit fascinates me: when a crisis comes up, that's usually a call for technological innovation, which helps the economy. We have plenty of time (well, we did years ago, but the clock is ticking) to work on alternative energies and other means of slowing warming if we actually get off our butts and do something.
Think Progress has a complete list of what those Republican hopefuls are thinking. It's an astonishing look at politicians who are toeing the party line despite overwhelming evidence -- and an entire scientific community of thousands and thousands of scientists.
Political demagoguery, denial, and willful blindness can quite literally doom us all. I really think it's time we have politicians who can face the hard problems and have the courage to look ahead, instead of lamenting a past that never really existed.
Tip o' the thermometer to Manotick
* To be fair, there was one guy who decided to go along with overwhelming scientific consensus and was confident global warming is real and man-made: moderate Mike Castle, who was dunked out of the race by Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell (though who may yet run as an independent).