The science-fiction writer Phillip K. Dick once wrote, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
This is a fair summary of the GOP’s problem on climate change. Sure, you can elect a president who thinks global warming is a Chinese hoax — and let him appoint an EPA director who doesn’t believe carbon emissions affect the climate. You can even polarize the issue of environmental sustainability until rock-ribbed Republicans start thinking its their patriotic duty to “roll coal.”
But none of that will keep rising tides from flooding the districts that your party represents.
On Wednesday, 17 House Republicans testified to this truth, by signing onto a resolution affirming the reality of climate change and the dangers that it presents. The statement emphasizes the legislators’ commitment to economically viable, conservative solutions to the problem at hand. But, unlike the president, the lawmakers recognize that ignoring the problem is not a solution. In the statement, they pledge to “study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates” and develop ways to “balance human activities” that fuel those changes.
“This issue was regrettably politicized some 20 or so years ago, and we are in the process of taking some of the politics out, reducing the noise, and focusing on the challenge and on the potential solutions,” Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo told Reuters Wednesday.
Curbelo represents Miami, where high tides routinely bring water to the streets. Two of other Republican co-sponsors hail from southern Florida. Others come from Western regions that have been adversly impacted by the decline of mountain snowpacks. And then there’s arch-conservative Mark Sanford, whose concern for South Carolina’s coastline seems to have brought him to accept climate science.
The bill isn’t going anywhere. And the Trump administration seems set to do everything in its power to accelerate the onset of climate apocalypse.
Still, as Bloomberg’s Eric Roston notes, the bill remains a hopeful sign that humanity’s instinct for self-preservation may be kicking in.
These bills are interesting in the way that solar energy is, even though solar makes up 1 percent of U.S. power generation. Like solar power, Republican climate bills are noteworthy not because one is likely to pass anytime soon, but because massive external forces—markets, other governments, and climate change itself—may eventually force it into the foreground.
It’s no guarantee that Republicans will, eventually, try to avert the destruction of our planet. But at least some are trying to try.