Can the party of Reagan accept the science of climate change?

I was going to blog about what bunch of ponces the Police were in the video for Wrapped around your finger (great music though; speaking of which Nice legs, Shame about the face applies today. King of Pain is better, but they don’t look so stupid).

Anyway, what I decided to talk about today is Sherwood Boehlert’s op-ed in the WaPo (as I believe the hip dudes call it). Which I’ll quote in near-entirety (truncated a little for brevity and for bits I find not wrong but detracting from the otherwise excellent message):

Watching the raft of newly elected GOP lawmakers converge on Washington, I couldn’t help thinking about an issue I hope our party will better address. I call on my fellow Republicans to open their minds to rethinking what has largely become our party’s line: denying that climate change and global warming are occurring and that they are largely due to human activities.

National Journal reported last month that 19 of the 20 serious GOP Senate challengers declared that the science of climate change is either inconclusive or flat-out wrong. Many newly elected Republican House members take that position. It is a stance that defies the findings of our country’s National Academy of Sciences, national scientific academies from around the world and 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists.

Why do so many Republican senators and representatives think they are right and the world’s top scientific academies and scientists are wrong? I would like to be able to chalk it up to lack of information or misinformation.

I can understand arguments over proposed policy approaches to climate change. I served in Congress for 24 years. I know these are legitimate areas for debate. What I find incomprehensible is the dogged determination by some to discredit distinguished scientists and their findings.

In a trio of reports released in May, the prestigious and nonpartisan National Academy concluded that “a strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.” Our nation’s most authoritative and respected scientific body couldn’t make it any clearer or more conclusive…

There is a natural aversion to more government regulation. But that should be included in the debate about how to respond to climate change, not as an excuse to deny the problem’s existence…

The new Congress should have a policy debate to address facts rather than a debate featuring unsubstantiated attacks on science. We shouldn’t stand by while the reputations of scientists are dragged through the mud in order to win a political argument. And no member of any party should look the other way when the basic operating parameters of scientific inquiry – the need to question, express doubt, replicate research and encourage curiosity – are exploited for the sake of political expediency. My fellow Republicans should understand that wholesale, ideologically based or special-interest-driven rejection of science is bad policy. And that in the long run, it’s also bad politics.

What is happening to the party of Ronald Reagan? He embraced scientific understanding of the environment and pollution and was proud of his role in helping to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals [*]. That was smart policy and smart politics. Most important, unlike many who profess to be his followers, Reagan didn’t deny the existence of global environmental problems but instead found ways to address them.

The National Academy reports concluded that “scientific evidence that the Earth is warming is now overwhelming.” Party affiliation does not change that fact.

This is what I (and many others, perhaps most notably mt), have been saying for ages.

[* Update: the description of Reagan is far too simplistic, and probably wrong – see the comments. I’d say it is allowable as political rhetoric as an effort to convince Republican-type folks that they don’t have to be the enemies of the environment; but maybe it would be better omitted, or re-phrased to refer only to ozone.]

[Update: Russel Seitz points out that he said pretty well the same thing back in 2008. And more: RP in the comments points out that “the original Senate vote for the
Montreal Protocol was 83-0” – can you imagine that, nowadays?]