The GOP’s Great Global Warming Purge

If you’re an American progressive, I can fully understand why you might be feeling too demoralized to turn out and vote to reelect Democrats who have disappointed you as the majority party. But if you care about the environment, you really can’t afford to sit this one out.

Climate change has become something of a litmus test for Republican/Tea Party candidates this midterm election season. Hell, Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, the author of several manifestations of the Dirty Air Act, lost her primary race in part because her challenger successfully labeled her as being too supportive of climate policies. I mean, that kind of boggles the mind, right there. Pretty much says all you need to know about the role the anti-science vote is playing in this election.

There are 37 Senate races happening this year. The upshot of this climate witch hunt is that all but one Republican running for Senate now disputes that humans are causing global warming (As The New York Times put it, Dick Cheney must be smiling). Even Senators like John McCain (R-Ariz) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who were once advocates for climate solutions, have changed their tune. In the National Journal last week, Ron Brownstien observed that no other major political party in the entire world comes close to the anti-climate science rhetoric of the GOP—this is highlighted by the fact that British Foreign Secretary William Hague (the U.K.’s version of a conservative) put “combating climate change near the very top of the world’s To Do list” the other week.

So it’s pretty fair to say the GOP has taken its anti-climate rhetoric over the edge. Wonk Room has a good breakdown of the anti-science views of the Republicans vying for each of the 37 seats in the Senate.

In California, it’s particularly important that lots of votes for the environment turn out on Election Day. Like McCain and Kirk, Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, who is challenging incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer, is a recent convert to the cult of climate denial. Back in 2008, she believed cap-and-trade would “both create jobs and lower the cost of energy,” but now she thinks we “should have the confidence and courage to test the science,” and equates concern about global warming with being concerned about “the weather.” Despite her flip-flopping and willingness to kowtow to the anti-intellectual crowd, Fiorina is in a statistical tie with Boxer, according to the latest polls.

While Californians are voting to keep Barbara Boxer, of course, they can also do a lot of good by voting “no” on Prop 23, a ballot measure to roll back the state’s global warming law. The rest of the country looks to California to lead the way on environmental issues. Fiorina and Prop 23 are not the way forward.

The climate hive mentality is not limited to the Senate. The League of Conservation Voters’ “Dirty Dozen” list for 2010 includes a handful Republican House candidates as well, including Reps. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.).

On climate issues, America is already lagging far behind the rest of the developed world, and if we don’t get out the vote on November 2nd, we’’ll have to wait even longer for solutions. Republicans have their heads wedged firmly in the sand, and they’re poised to ride the anti-incumbent wave back into the majority, which would have disastrous results for our country — and the entire rest of the planet.

So, seriously, believe me when I say: If you care about the future of our planet, if you want your kids to have a habitable place to live when they grow up, you need to suck it up and get to your polling place. Commit to vote now — if not to vote for the Democrats, then at least to vote against the climate deniers in the voting booth.

Photo credit: Rob Boudon via Flickr

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