Prediction: What will Republican Presidential contenders do about global warming?

Answer: flip-flop.

Except for two, maybe three or four of them (to be named shortly).


Why will they flip-flop? Because they’ll finally figure out (most of them, at least) that they can’t get elected unless they do. Just like Mitt Romney flip-flopped (in the wrong direction no less) in 2012 when he figured out he couldn’t get the Republican nomination unless he did.

It’s not just the killer heat wave that has recently hit the Pacific northwest; it’s killer heat waves on four continents this year — and summer isn’t nearly over yet. It’s not just the California drought, it’s drought and near-zero snowpack throughout the western states. It’s not just extreme wildfire in the Pacific northwest, it’s extraordinary wildfire extreme in Alaska and Canada, with the smoke from Canadian wildfires drifting as far south as N. Carolina.

And it’s not just scientists saying that it’s urgent to take action, something with real teeth in it not just some token response, that this is both a survival issue and a moral issue. It’s the Pope.

Truly, it’s sad to say. But it’s true: the impacts from global warming are getting so obvious, if things get any worse this summer, and/or if next year brings a similar string of disasters, hell, even Republicans will have a hard time denying it.

And that’s when the flip-flopping will begin. One by one, with few exceptions, the Republican candidates will start talking about how yes, we need to do something about it — but they’ll be sure to add that we have to protect the economy (translation: protect the rich).

My prediction for sleaziest flip-flop: Jeb Bush.

My prediction for the ones who won’t flip-flop:

First, the one who doesn’t have to: Lindsey Graham. I detest Lindsey Graham because he’s so hawkish he wants to bomb the hell out of nearly everybody while killing off freedom of choice for women about their own bodies. But I’ll give him this: he’s the one Republican candidate who admits, and has never to my knowledge denied, that global warming is a problem and we should do something about it. He’s sometimes been wishy-washy about it, and he emphasizes protecting business (translation: protect the rich), but he really doesn’t need to flip-flop about global warming.

The one who won’t flip-flop but will continue to deny, come hell and/or high water: Donald Trump.

The other ones whom might not flip-flop because they’ve been so stupid about the whole thing: Ted Cruz and good ole’ “Mr. Oops” Rick Perry.

27 responses to “Prediction: What will Republican Presidential contenders do about global warming?

  1. I can hardly wait for the avalanche of dumb.

  2. Keep in mind that we have the rest of this summer and one more full summer before the election. That’s plenty of heatwaves, fires and floods – and I think it means trying to hold their comments, like holding their breath, without breathing after a while they give up or die trying.

  3. David B. Benson

    Did you name everybody in the clown car?

  4. My prediction: They’ll find a way to blame their denial on the scientists.

    • Absolutely! I mean, how could they trust the scientists who were caught (red-handed!!!) faking data?

      They might also blame Al Gore for politicizing the issue, which of course the scientists did too.

      And the polar bears — they’re just the WORST — made it all about them, clouding the issue with emotion. Blame them too.

      Really, there’s no limit to whom one can blame…

    • That seems only fair. After all, scientists should have said something about this sooner if it was important, right?

      • Right. And don’t forget that they never said it was really “settled”–something or other about falsifiability. A lot of mealy-mouthed weasel words. How are we supposed to take that seriously?

  5. It would really help if the major networks and media would raise the possibility of climate change when talking about extreme weather and fires. They might also point out that different continents are having the same problems (heat, drought and fire) at the same time. Will Republicans and the general republic be able to contact some of the dots on their own?. If 2015 sets a new record for mean global temperature, which reactions will we see? 1. Ignore it, 2. Claim that the warming paused 18 years ago, 3) claim that the data are tampered with or 4) conclude that there is increasing evidence for climate change?

  6. corey todnem

    If 2016 is cooler than 2015, they will have the advantage of the short memories of their constituents (and draw upon certain “experts” to re-emphasize the “uncertainty” of the climate).

    • Corey, at this point Jurassic El Niño is expected to last into Spring 2016. Typically, the year that follows an El Niño is warmer than the El Niño year itself. Even assuming next year is actually cooler than this year, it will likely be due to the late part of that year, late enough that the afterglow of the El Niño will have been felt throughout the good majority of the year. It will be there for the primaries and much of the build up to the general election.

      If the Super El Niño of 1997 is any indication, the two years that follow may be cooler than some of the years that preceded the current one, but after that?

      Looking at the data, if you leave out the year following the 1997 El Niño, the hottest year of the 20th Century (1997 with a temperature anomaly of 0.45°C) was colder than the coldest year of the 21st Century (2008 with a temperature anomaly of 0.49°C). I am with Trenberth on this:

      2014 has been the warmest year on record, not by much and now 2015 could well be another year in that sequence and one way of thinking about global warming from the human influences is that it’s not just a gradual increase but perhaps it’s more like a staircase, and we’re about to go up an extra step to a new level.

      … and expect to see similar step-like behavior this time around.

  7. Horatio Algeranon

    The only thing weirder and less predictable than the weather these days is the Republicans.

  8. About half of the 2016 primaries are scheduled before March 31, including “Super Tuesday”. If winter 2016 is like winter 2015, my guess is a lot of republican primary voters in the Midwest and northeast will adopt the Inhofe approach: “snowball disproves climate change.”

    • Even if it violated Senate rules of decorum, it would have been amusing if a science-based senator had brought along a brightly colored wig and big red nose and waved them at Inhofe after his snowball stunt (‘Forget these, Jim?’). Although Inhofe probably had the element of surprise on his side.

  9. I think life must be really difficult for rational, moderate republicans these days.

  10. “Prediction: What will Republican Presidential contenders do about global warming?”

    They’ll do whatever the Koch/Adellson billions tell them to do. Any number of bad scenarios are possible, e.g. they get Scot Walker elected, he appoints Inhofe Secretary of Energy and he in turn appoints Watts or equivalent as the Director of GISS. They’ll make global warming go away in one sense but the temperature will continue rising and we’ll be sweating out asses off for a myriad of new reasons.

    When will they address the real problem? Not until the wealth transfer is deemed complete,or simply put it won’t be.

    • The missing element in many of these discussions is that things are getting obvious for the population at large, almost getting ahead of scientific understanding.

      When the flood/drought/wildfire/toxic effluent or air is at your door, you no longer care about the politicians telling you the sun doesn’t rise in the east and set in the west.

      • Susan,

        “The missing element in many of these discussions is that things are getting obvious for the population at large, almost getting ahead of scientific understanding.”

        That may very well be true. If you accept the fact that we in the US are now an oligarchical society and Princeton did a study on this finding this
        to be the case and other authors including social critics like Chris Hedges and Henry Giroux have written articles and given talks on this as well, then the population does not have an effective say in what direction the country chooses to go in on these matters. The populations understanding, however advanced, will be off little help in trying to force the required policy changes when the traditional institutions used for these purposes have been rendered defunct by those in Washington who serve the oligarchy.

      • PJ, you raise a question the answer to which may possibly be found in the response (or lack thereof) to the climate crisis. But I think that answer may not be a clearcut one.

  11. Hey Doc,

    First off I appreciate the reply to my comment in the “Corporations are interested in environmental impacts only to the extent that they affect profits” post.

    “PJ, you raise a question the answer to which may possibly be found in the response (or lack thereof)
    to the climate crisis. But I think that answer may not be a clearcut one.”

    Yes its true given the circumstances as outlined above, clearcut options on how to move policy on climate change are limited. Frederick Douglass once said in a speech he gave on the West India Emancipation that “Power
    concedes nothing without a demand”. In my opinion, that is how we have to look at the situation regarding climate change. To me the question then becomes how is the demand implemented and it seems the only viable way to do that is for people to be in the streets bringing the system to a halt until the demands pertaining to climate change are met. The Climate Convergence last September in NYC that drew 400K and then the subsequent Flood Wall Street protest gave some prototypical ideas (and some hope) on how this might be accomplished. Clearly undertakings such as that which would require some persistence as well until goals are met, would not be easy to say the least.

    • You’re welcome–I certainly appreciated the comment in the first place. Sharing the article you cited led to a pretty good conversation elsewhere, from which I think I learned a few things.

      Turning to your present comments, I have a few responses.

      First, I think that the oligarchy is by no means uniformly against climate action (unsurprisingly, as they are by no means exceptionally stupid as a class, despite the obvious potential for members to be out of touch with normal human economic realities). So you’ll find counterparts to the Kochs, putting their money on the line for some mitigative sanity. Unsatisfying in some ways, perhaps, but hopeful to a degree.

      Second, I think there’s still some responsiveness in electoral politics, despite the outsize influence of wealth on the process as a whole.

      Third, I think you are right that direct actions of all sorts are necessary and helpful. I’ve been out on the streets and in planning meetings, and will be again. I think it’s (more or less) an old adage, but “Don’t agonize, organize!”