Sun Ra - Column for 4/3

Those Bears Better Learn to Backstroke

Well, apparently one-third of the coral in the Caribbean died last year.

Now, obviously, if you are a Republican this news does not concern you very much, because it's not your fault. This has become the Republican mantra in recent years, on many topics but particularly on global warming. "Cycles", the Republican think-tanks say. "Natural". A decade ago precisely the same people were telling us that there was no such thing as global warming, that the jury was still out, the evidence still inconclusive. Now that you practically have to be a flat-earther to dispute the existance of global warming, the Republican position has evolved.

It's Not Our Fault.

Who says Republicans don't believe in evolution?

There are a lot of different ways I can go here. Obviously, there is the whole-hearted Republican embrace of the entire "Not Our Fault" paradigm, which along with greed seems to be the central tenet of their political philosophy. Sure, they've run the government for five years - why haven't things gone so well? Why, those obstructionist Democrats! And liberals! Somehow it is they who have kept us from achieving Clintonian levels of peace and prosperity.

I could segue off into the general Republican attack on science, and how Republican party scientists makes the tobacco industry look like young George Washington when it comes to telling lies. Because, of course, to Republicans belief comes first, and the science backs it up. That's how Republican Science works. You tell the scientists, or the political analysts or the military planners, you tell them what you want to be true, and they make it so. With money you can always buy Republican Truth.

For instance, did you know that last year for the first time ever - according to Gale Norton, the outgoing Secretary of the Interior - America added to its stock of wetlands? Half a million acres of natural wetlands were destroyed, it's true, but 700,000 acres of man-made wetlands were added. Of course, also for the first time ever those "wetlands" include golf course water hazards, wastewater treatment lagoons, and ornamental yard ponds. Why, those are just great for biodiversity!

Republican Truth in action.

But I think I'm going to stick to the environment this time, and global warming in particular. I have to admit, I did not anticipate the Republican Truth Machine moving in this particular direction. "There may be global warming, but it's not our fault. After all, there have been global climate cycles in the past. The little ice age! The dinosaurs! All this talk of carbon emissions is just hooey."

Yes, I was naive. I thought that, well, obviously the Republicans cannot do the responsible thing and confront global warming - Republicans don't do responsibility - but surely as the global average temperature continues to rise, well, even they must confront real, external truth. Right? Right?

How did I not see it coming?

So anyway, now global warming is Not Our Fault, just like the unprecedented federal deficit is Not Our Fault, the people drowned in New Orleans are Not Our Fault, the clusterfuck in Iraq is Not Our Fault. Global warming? The planet just does that sort of stuff. Volcanoes. Asteroids. Sunspots.

I'm not even going to mention God and/or Armageddon. I'm not talking about those people.

Well, obviously this bullshit is, well, just more Republican bullshit. We have only to look to the second-order function to see that the rate of climate change is unprecedented. That, unlike after volcanic effects, the temperature is not moving back towards a prior state. That the levels of carbon dioxide in the air, carbon dioxide which we are emitting at a calculable rate, are, well, also unprecedented.

We just have to use real science.

I'm sorry, Republicans, but it is our fault. Be men for once and step up to it, please?

Of course not.

However, in the interest of not being surprised by Republican Truth again, I'd like to look into the crystal ball and try to predict what new bullshit they will concoct to avoid actually taking responsibility for global warming in the future, after the whole "Not Our Fault" response is as thoroughly discredited as the "It's Not Happening" has been. I've come up with a few:

  1. Global Warming is Good. Think about it - now we can farm more easily in North Dakota! And Siberia! There are lots of cold places that would benefit from a warmer world. And no more of those damned polar bears, threatening people. I'm serious here - in a few years there will be "legitimate" right-wing (of course) commentators telling us to look in the bright side.
  2. The Solution is More of the Same. Republican Science can always be counted on to advocate doing whatever we want to do anyway. Some crackpot visionary will doubtless discover that coal plant smoke or oil refining emissions or rampant pesticide use or whatever might actually contribute to global cooling - so we should do more of that! And it will create jobs!
  3. Nothing Can Be Done, So Why Worry. Sadly, this is the one I think the most likely. Global die-offs? Hey, as long as we don't have to pay to do anything about it, right? It's too big a problem. Too expensive. It's just too much work to try and save the coral reefs for our children or grandchildren to ever see. Anyway, with the debt we're piling on them they won't be able to afford to go anywhere in any case. So, fuck it.

Yeah, a bit of a downer. But then, any time you start with one-third of the coral reefs dying, how upbeat can you be?

- Sun Ra

Columns by Sun Ra