What happened to debate?

I wanted to do something flashier for my 500 post, but I didn’t have any flash availalbe.  Instead, I’ve had the radio on the brain.  Specifically NPR.

On my way into the office this morning, I heard Rep. Boehner’s interview with Steve Inskeep.  This part caught my eye:

via Boehner: GOP Must Offer ‘Better Solutions’ In 2009 : NPR.

“We’ve never gotten into the debate and the discussion about the consequences of trying to deal with it, and how expensive it will be and the changes it will make to our society,” Boehner said. “And the fact that if we don’t have our industrial partners around the world engage with us, what does that mean in terms of job loss in the U.S.?”

He also was upset about the $400 million to NASA to study Global Warming:

“Remember, the goal of the stimulus package is to preserve jobs and help create new jobs in America,” Boehner said. “And I don’t know how giving NASA $400 million to study global warming is going to meet the goals.”

Mr. Boehner, I’m here to help you.

First, a little context.  First, we haven’t had the debate about Global Climate Change because the science was squelched over the past eight years.

This report presents the findings of the Committee’s investigation. The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.

This explains why we need to spend more money on research.  We do need information from a source less biased than the American Petroleum Institute.  Then, armed with this newer research, the nation can use the stimulus package to lay the foundation for a more sustainable future.  You know, green jobs, green services–21 century stuff, not industrial revolution stuff.

As for debate itself, I think you are presenting the issue in a rather lopsided fashion.  You question presupposes two things:   That to do any work on this issue will hamper growth of the economy and that the economy is more important than the environment.  To the latter, I have to whole heartedly disagree.  Granted, if climate change is as dangerous as I believe it is, Business and Industry will make a killing on the technology they will develop that will be necessary to maintain our standard of living–but what kind of living would that be?  As to the former, history has been pretty clear that the development and implementation of new technology is an engine of economic growth.  Of course, when this occurs the old guard is typically set aside.  In this case, the Old Guard had very powerful allies in Congress and the White House.  These very same forces played a tremendous role in the early days of the Bush administration, when Cheney held closed door sessions to create our energy policy.

However, this is a new administration.  While I applaud the idea for debate,  I honestly think it is at least twelve years too late (astute readers will do the math and realize I’m critizing Clinton as well), but at least by calling for debate you are recognizing that this is an issue that should be looked at.  A debate, with properly funded studies, conducted by scientists not hampered by politics, would be beneficial to the nation.  A debate used to stall implementation of policies that would have a negative impact on Big Oil and Coal, however, is not a debate.  That, Mr. Boehner, is bullshit.  Let’s keep the bullshit out of the debate–as methane, a product of bullshit, is pretty bad for the environment.

4 thoughts on “What happened to debate?

  1. Wasn’t it said in the same interview that the CIA was given money for Global Warming studies?


    Anyone know what the results of that study was? And why did the CIA do it?

  2. I believe this study was in fact mentioned. Actually, the study is really a National Intelligence Estimate required by legislation known as the “Global Climate Change Security Oversight Act.”
    It passed in early 2007, but the Estimate has not yet been completed and released. The basic reasoning behind requiring this study was that if global warming in fact occurs as expected, then we can expect substantial disruptions in agriculture and coastal regions. Given this, what security risks are likely to occur due to these events, which would involve mass migrations, famine, and a generally lowered standard of living. (Consider that simple economic difficulties have resulted in riots in heavily industrialized nations such as England and France within the past few decades, and the possible risks involved are much clearer.)
    Ideally, the study will indicate what preventative steps can be taken to minimize or mitigate the potential security threats caused by global warming.

  3. I heard that too. This interview angered me, though, because it didn’t really seem like a debate. Mr. Boehner trotted out pat, party-line answers without thinking about them, and was flustered when they were questioned. This is someone who is not used to having his views questioned. Rather than debating, or being the minority party and accepting that they have to work harder to defend their views, Republicans are retiring. At least the Democrats stuck around, rather than effectively saying, “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

  4. Global warming studies, and the initiatives that would presumably react to their results, could create jobs in much the same way that new technological and alternative fuel projects could create jobs. These are just not jobs that benefit the industries and companies where the previous administration’s power players made their money.

    On a practical level, I bear no ill-will about this. The operatives simply got their considerable experience from endeavors built on old tech and a different worldview. In a period of rapid technological and global political change, in a country with entrenched relationships between industry and policy, this was probably unavoidable. It’s not so hard to understand why magnates would fear the erosion of the ground their fortunes were built upon.

    Thus, in its way, the economic collapse was, if we accept the fortunes and opportunities possible with massive change, fortuitously timed. Even big-money operations have good reason to try new things now.

    I hope.

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