Pulp Fiction

I will never understand why people write articles encouraging conservative Republicans to take climate change seriously, when these articles are only ever read by progressive Democrats. The latest such article comes from libertarian carbon-tax advocate Jerry Taylor, formerly of the Cato Institute:

Pope Francis’ visit to the United States has triggered an energetic debate about the morality of climate change.

In his May encyclical Laudato si, the Pope argued that virtue and faith demand an immediate response to global warming. Many conservatives reply that economic growth, best delivered by free markets, has done more than anything to lift people from poverty. Because low energy prices facilitate growth, they say that responding to global warming in a way that raises energy prices will slow growth and hurt the least fortunate among us.

While much of what conservatives say is true, one does not need to be a Catholic, a socialist or a scientific alarmist to believe that we’re morally required to take action on climate change. Indeed, the moral argument for liberty and free-market capitalism implies that we’re required to act.

Well, we know Taylor obviously loathes Naomi Klein, whose argument that free-market capitalism caused the climate crisis in the first place is quite compelling. Moreover, why does Taylor think conservative Republicans will even listen to him? Right-wingers have made up (what’s left of) their minds. They think global warming is a crock that Al Gore concocted as part of a Communist conspiracy, and they will take that view with them to the grave. Remember Glenn Beck’s “Deny ‘til we die!” declaration on climate change?

Speaking of crocks, it was sad to see the New York Times promote a survey of dubious credibility commissioned by a Republican megadonor who’s so obviously embarrassed by the anti-science, anti-logic, anti-fact, anti-reality views of his party:

A majority of Republicans — including 54 percent of self-described conservative Republicans — believe the world’s climate is changing and that mankind plays some role in the change, according to a new survey conducted by a trio of prominent Republican pollsters.

The results echo a number of other recent surveys concluding that, despite the talk of many of the party’s candidates, a significant number of Republicans and independent voters are inclined to support candidates who would back some form of climate action. It may also point to a problem facing Republicans seeking their party’s presidential nomination: The activists who crowd town hall meetings and Republican presidential caucuses and primaries might not reflect the broader attitude of even the Republican electorate.

The survey was commissioned by Jay Faison, a North Carolina businessman who calls himself a conservative Republican and has announced that he intends to spend $10 million on efforts to lobby Republicans to embrace the issue of climate change. He has spent $165 million to start a nonprofit foundation, ClearPath, aimed at promoting climate change and clean energy policies that could appeal to conservatives.

Mr. Faison hired three prominent Republican pollsters to conduct the survey: Whit Ayres, who works for the presidential campaign of [climate-change-denying] Senator Marco Rubio of Florida; Glen Bolger, a three-time winner of the American Association of Political Consultants’ “Republican Pollster of the Year;” and Kristen Soltis Anderson, author of “The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America (And How Republicans Can Keep Up).”

Why would the Times even do a piece on this obviously bogus survey? Does anybody seriously believe that there are large numbers of Republicans who accept climate science? If that were the case, wouldn’t, say, Lindsey Graham have more viability in the presidential primaries?

Four years ago, shortly after then-GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman declared, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” Media Matters reminded us that prior to the election of Barack Obama and the Supreme Court’s pro-polluter Citizens United ruling, some Republicans were indeed willing to acknowledge the reality of human-caused climate change and the need to take action:

To quote Steely Dan’s “Pretzel Logic,” “Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago.” A few outliers notwithstanding, today’s Republicans stand foursquare against any effort to combat carbon pollution. I can understand why Jay Faison and Jerry Taylor are embarrassed by that reality. They ought to be.

UPDATE: Jay Faison’s EPA-bashing interview with NPR.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.