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Fri Dec 13, 2019, 09:02 PM

The Party That Ruined The Planet. GOP Climate Denial Is Even Scarier Than Trumpism; Krugman

NYT, by Paul Krugman, Dec. 12, 2019. Excerpts: ~ If you're blocked by a paywall, google 'Paul Krugman, today's article.'

The most terrifying aspect of the U.S. political drama isnít the revelation that the president has abused his power for personal gain. If you didnít see that coming from the day Donald Trump was elected, you werenít paying attention. No, the real revelation has been the utter depravity of the Republican Party. Essentially every elected or appointed official in that party has chosen to defend Trump by buying into crazy, debunked conspiracy theories. That is, one of Americaís two major parties is beyond redemption; given that, itís hard to see how democracy can long endure, even if Trump is defeated.

However, the scariest reporting Iíve seen recently has been about science, not politics. A new federal report finds that climate change in the Arctic is accelerating, matching what used to be considered worst-case scenarios. And there are indications that Arctic warming may be turning into a self-reinforcing spiral, as the thawing tundra itself releases vast quantities of greenhouse gases. Catastrophic sea-level rise, heat waves that make major population centers uninhabitable, and more are now looking more likely than not, and sooner rather than later. But the terrifying political news and the terrifying climate news are closely related.

Why, after all, has the world failed to take action on climate, and why is it still failing to act even as the danger gets ever more obvious? There are, of course, many culprits; action was never going to be easy. But one factor stands out above all others: the fanatical opposition of Americaís Republicans, who are the worldís only major climate-denialist party. Because of this opposition, the United States hasnít just failed to provide the kind of leadership that would have been essential to global action, it has become a force against action..

But why have Republicans become the party of climate doom? Money is an important part of the answer: In the current cycle Republicans have received 97 percent of political contributions from the coal industry, 88 percent from oil and gas. And this doesnít even count the wing nut welfare offered by institutions supported by the Koch brothers and other fossil-fuel moguls. However, I donít believe that itís just about the money. My sense is that right-wingers believe, probably correctly, that thereís a sort of halo effect surrounding any form of public action. Once you accept that we need policies to protect the environment, youíre more likely to accept the idea that we should have policies to ensure access to health care, child care, and more. So the government must be prevented from doing anything good, lest it legitimize a broader progressive agenda.

The only way that either American democracy or a livable planet can survive is if the Republican Party as it now exists is effectively dismantled and replaced with something better ó maybe with a party that has the same name, but completely different values. This may sound like an impossible dream. But itís the only hope we have.


- 'The Rising Tide,' The Four Horsemen sculpture in the Thames River, London by Jason DeCaires Taylor, 2015.


The Rising Tide depicts a series of working horses with riders on the banks of the River Thames in Central London. It was positioned within sight of the Houses of Parliament. The four works which are loosely based on the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, are revealed and partially concealed by the daily ebb and flow of the Thames.

The horsesí heads have been replaced by an oil well pump. The suited figures illustrate an attitude of denial or ambivalence towards our current climate crisis whereas the young riders represent hope in effecting future change.

The sculptures symbolise our desire to control natural forces, but their position in a vast body of moving water highlights our inherent fragility. It is intended to provide a disturbing metaphor for rising sea levels, demonstrating how little time we have to act, yet crucially it offers hope as it resets itself each day, offering us the opportunity for change.

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