The civil union bill has been getting a lot of attention lately, both in the mainstream media and blogs, where Poinography’s Doug White wrote about the Advertiser’s ”train wreck” of an editorial and Ian Lind today posted a touching — and disturbing — email written by a man who went to testify on behalf of the bill, only to be met with a hateful diatribe.
But the most clever blog post on the subject appeared on Jan TenBruggencate’s Raising Islands, where he drew parallels between civil unions and climate change, with bogus arguments as the connecting link.
It's hard to believe some folks still think gays are despicable sub-humans, just as it's hard to believe climate change deniers still hold sway, even in the face of so much evidence to the contrary. Democracy Now! broadcast a chilling report on the unexpected — and alarming — acceleration in greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to global warming.
The guest was Chris Field, a Stanford University professor and leading member of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who this week testified before a Senate panel. What struck me, and this has been borne out by other reports I’ve read, is that despite growing concerns about global warming, we’re not changing course in any meaningful way. According to the lead-in to the Field interview:
Since 2000, emissions have grown at a rate of 3.5 percent per year. No part of the world had a decline in emissions from 2000 to 2008.
In fact, the emissions are increasing more rapidly than the rate used in developing the current climate models. According to Field:
The reason I say we’re on a trajectory of climate change that we haven’t explored is that we have only looked at scenarios where the growth of CO2 was limited to in the range of two to 2.5 percent per year. We genuinely don’t know what a climate will look like with the more rapid rate of increase that we’re actually seeing.
Field goes on to talk about Obama’s proposed “market approach” to dealing with climate change by developing carbon emission permits, which would be capped and traded:
Well, if I look at the problem, the thing that really strikes me is that we don’t have very long to get an effective climate regime in place. The risk with these ecosystem feedbacks is that once we get past a certain point in warming, the problem gets more difficult every year, because we’re ending up with, you know, essentially less and less help from the oceans and the land. And from my perspective, the really critical thing is that we get a handle on the emissions growth so that we can slow it rapidly and turn the corner, so that we’re looking at a period of decreased emissions moving into the future.
He also delves into what can happen when plants that are now frozen thaw out and quickly decompose, releasing yet more CO2:
The basic risk is that if we reach a certain point in the warming, what we’ll end up with is a vicious cycle, where the warming causes additional permafrost melt, which causes additional CO2 to be released to the atmosphere, which causes additional warming, which creates this vicious cycle.
The broadcast also included comments from the man that Republicans invited to the same Senate hearing, Princeton University Professor William Happer, who likened the attempt to control CO2 emissions to the same well-intentioned, but misguided, thinking behind Prohibition. He even said:
I believe the increase of CO2 will be good.
Field disagreed, noting:
Well, there’s been a tremendous amount of science to assess the likely impacts of rising CO2 on climate, and the IPCC overwhelmingly concludes that the overall impact is likely to be sharply negative.
So why, given what science has told us about the likely negative effects, aren’t we changing our behavior? Perhaps it has something to do with another Democracy Now! segment, which reported:
A new report from the Center for Public Integrity reveals that the number of global warming lobbyists has increased by more than 300 percent in the past five years. In the past year, some 770 companies hired over 2,000 climate change lobbyists and spent an estimated $90 million to influence federal policy on climate change.
The report cites NASA scientist James Hansen’s warning that “special interests will dilute and torque government policies, causing the climate to pass tipping points, with grave consequences for all life on the planet.”
And I'm left wondering, can the religious right remove its blinders and see gays as the human beings they are, deserving of equal rights and justice? And can the political right remove its blinders and see that its slavish devotion to materialism could doom us all?
I'm hopeful, but not optimistic. Outdated ideologies are hard nuts to crack.