Why, then, have these Senators backed off from supporting similar (and similarly watered down) legislation in the Senate now? They haven't called any particular bill too stringent; they've just completely rejected the idea of a carbon cap. In 2007, four Republican senators cosponsored the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act out of 11 total cosponsors. How has the Republican party's mindset shifted so drastically away from acknowledging the United States' role in climate change, and helping to do something about it?
- It's a political strategy: Let the Democrats deal with the hard problems, and let them take the flak for it instead of praise. If they try to address the climate crisis, let's dub it an "energy tax" and never stop spouting out our message that average Americans will suffer under the bill, despite expert analyses revealing otherwise.
- It's a campaign finance issue. As the Supreme Court spirals our country deeper and deeper into a system where politicians are accountable to wealthy corporations and not the citizens they are bound by the Constitution to represent, Congress members are finding themselves increasingly more concerned with the welfare of oil and gas companies, utilities, and carbon-intensive industrial polluters than with the welfare of their constituents.
- It's somehow become such a partisan issue that acknowledging it as critical to address through sound policy is detrimental within the Republican party. Murkowski and McCain are about to enter primaries, facing challenges from tea party favorites Joe Miller and J.D. Hayworth, respectively. Both challengers scoff at the notion of man-made climate change and vehemently attack their opponents for having ever associated themselves with carbon-capping legislation.
This change of heart makes me wonder what it will take for Republicans and conservative Americans to rethink their unfounded assessments of climate change. More intense and erratic hurricanes and weather patterns? No, we've already gotten that. A catastrophic reminder of the reality of fossil fuel dependence? Nope, that hasn't seemed to help. Looks like we're in this one for the long haul.
Image: Joe Lieberman and John McCain, co-sponsors of the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, and Lindsey Graham, climate apostate (Climate Progress)