Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker has become a voice in the Wilderness, a Lone Voice in the Wilderness.
Last week the United States Senate voted 98-1, declaring, “It is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax.”
Most folks have a hard time reading the words “Sense” and “Senate” together in the same sentence. The very name “climate change” has been a hot button issues since its first use in a 1975 science journal article by geochemist Wallace Broecker of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory: “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?”
“Global Warming” was the more dominant and dramatic term used throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but completely unacceptable for those who embraced cheap gas and detested Al Gore.
No matter, concerned scientists say, Global Warming only tells only a third of it: rising surface temperatures. Climate Change, they say, tells the more complete story: changing precipitation patterns and rising sea levels which will have a much greater impact on human activity.
The leading and most reputable atmospheric and physical scientists, geologists, biologists, mathematicians, statisticians, and computer analysts believe that Climate Change is not only “not a hoax,” they believe that human activity is playing a part.
The questions are: Just how significant a part? What do we do about it? And, who stands to lose?
The fossil fuel industry has plenty to lose, billions and billions. You can understand why they would fight such an “Inconvenient Truth.” Our elected government’s subsidizing the fossil fuel industry for decades makes us all complicit. It’s how we’ve been able to enjoy paying the lowest fuel and energy prices on earth while still being able to grouse about it.
Before thinking this vote could be a milestone on the road to a safer, cleaner environment and eventual energy independence, consider the Climate Change amendment’s Republican sponsor, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who wrote a book called “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.”
Like most of his Republican colleagues who felt pressured on this vote, Inhofe invoked the sacred text. “The climate changes all the time,” he said, citing evidence of climate change in the Bible. Although his Biblical references were actually just plain changes in the weather. That “sun stood still” passage in Joshua Chapter 10 would qualify more as a miracle.
For squishy Senate liberals, flip-flopping on issues is easy. Not so for the intransigent conservatives like Inhofe. Even more difficult are the intransigent conservative Mississippians who turn about as easy as Darth Vader. So one might guess, Roger Wicker finds our lack of faith in climate denial disturbing.
Unlike his just plain chicken GOP colleagues, Wicker remained true to the righteousness of the cause.
“My record is very clear on this issue,” Wicker said some 24-hours after the climate change vote. Apparently, someone on his staff discovered a bit late their boss had cast the only “no” vote.
Wicker elaborated, “I will not change my position based on a political show vote. I agree with the more than 31,000 American scientists who do not believe the science on this matter is settled.”
Wicker didn’t pull the number 31,000 out of his hat. He pulled it out of someone else’s hat, a chemist and researcher for the fossil fuel industry named Arthur Robinson. Robinson created the Oregon Petition. The petition, not a scientific survey, was drafted to encourage our government to reject the ’97 Kyoto Protocol. Robinson’s petition did have lots of signatures on it, including the entire cast of characters from M*A*S*H, the Spice Girls, and a host of other fun names.
Admitting the dubious scientific credentials of the signatories, “most,” Robinson clarified, “have underlying degrees in basic science.”
The Oregon Petition will nevertheless be cited for a few more years at least. Too many Americans would not think to question false and inaccurate information as long as it reinforces what they have already chosen to believe. Roger Wicker may or may not be among them, but he is confident that enough of them live in Mississippi and that they will continue to re-elect him.
“Scientific research is advanced,” Wicker hypothesizes, “by asking questions and allowing for multiple viewpoints. With so much at stake –- our economy, our livelihoods, and our environment –- we should be tolerant of differences of opinion.”
A call for tolerance? There are some in this country who seek tolerance for immigrants who wish to live in this country legally. Others seek tolerance for homosexuals couples who want marriage rights and equal protection under the law. Still others seek tolerance for poor families seeking paid leave time to care of sick children, women who want equal pay for equal work, etc., etc.. Of course, Wicker and his ilk are on record as being proudly intolerant in these areas.
Yet, Wicker seeks tolerance for those who believe humans are incapable of destroying their atmosphere and environment and who take, as gospel, a petition created by a fossil fuel researcher and signed by Posh, Ginger, Sporty, Baby, and Scary Spice.
Wicker is correct: the Climate Change vote was a political show vote, which is exactly why Wicker is confident his “no” vote won’t come back to bite him. All votes are political show. Legislators either “show off” for those who elect them or they “show out” for the special interest groups that have them in their back pocket. Fortunately for Wicker, his “no” vote does both.
» David Dallas is a political writer. He worked for former U.S. Sen. John Stennis and authored Barking Dawgs and A Gentleman from Mississippi.
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