Sorry, John H. Richardson. I had to steal the whole thing.
Global Warming vs. the Invisible Hand
August 6, 2010 at 6:54PM
You can measure the honesty of conservatives by their attitudes to global warming. The basic "invisible hand" idea underlying conservative thought is that markets are too complicated for governments to control, so it's better to let capitalism sort things out via supply and demand. This idea is valid maybe 90 percent of the time.
But we don't trust the markets to defend our country. We don't trust them to run nuclear power plants without supervision. We don't trust them to provide us with political leaders. We don't even trust them to provide adequate safety mechanisms in cars, having seen them fight even something as obvious and inexpensive as seat belts.
And global warming really is the ultimate problem for the invisible hand, because markets can't anticipate something that could happen 20 or 30 years from now.
So there are only two possibilities. Since the overwhelming majority of the world's scientists say that global warming is real and caused by humans and could have devastating consequences, conservatives can either ignore the majority scientific consensus or admit that this is a problem that only the government can solve.
"Ignore" seems to be the winning option. According to the last polls I could find, nearly 75 percent of Republicans in and out of Congress choose not to believe in global warming.
This is why Republicans can't be trusted with the keys to the car of government. Seventy-five percent of them look at a blue sky and say it looks green, and never seem to consider that calling blue green fits a little too perfectly with their economic and political beliefs. This is called being out of touch with reality. A more dramatic example could not be found.
But you're not one of those Republicans, so you're eager to test your assumptions by considering the evidence. So check out this important new piece by Bill McKibben, one of America's most valuable citizens. It starts like this:
Try to fit these facts together:
* According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet has just come through the warmest decade, the warmest 12 months, the warmest six months, and the warmest April, May, and June on record.
* A "staggering" new study from Canadian researchers has shown that warmer seawater has reduced phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain, by 40 percent since 1950.
* Nine nations have so far set their all-time temperature records in 2010, including Russia (111 degrees), Niger (118), Sudan (121), Saudi Arabia and Iraq (126 apiece), and Pakistan, which also set the new all-time Asia record in May: a hair under 130 degrees. I can turn my oven to 130 degrees.
* And then, in late July, the U.S. Senate decided to do exactly nothing about climate change. They didn't do less than they could have -- they did nothing, preserving a perfect two-decade bipartisan record of no action. Senate majority leader Harry Reid decided not even to schedule a vote on legislation that would have capped carbon emissions.
(Finished reading? Now click here to join McKibben's group of global-warming activists.)