When Galileo was jailed in the 17th century for concluding that the Earth revolves around the sun, he rightly blamed his predicament on “the extraordinary stupidity of the mob.” Today’s scientists are dismissed far more subtly. The current stupidity mob, which runs the Trump White House, inexplicably believed that releasing a climate change report on the day after Thanksgiving would prompt Americans to overlook it.
Fortunately, that hasn’t happened. The latest National Climate Assessment — mandated by Congress every four years, and authored by 300 scientists spanning 13 federal agencies — is packed with dire evidence of a mounting global emergency. The free and independent press is still parsing the stats about rising temperatures, rising seas, burgeoning wildfires, worsening droughts, increasingly severe downpours, and havoc-wreaking floods. Last year alone, America incurred $300 billion in weather disaster damage — 40 percent higher than any previous year — and the scientists warn that if we do nothing to combat climate change, America will annually incur more than $500 billion in damage (lost wages, worthless coastal property, livestock deaths from heat stress, you name it) within the lifetimes of our grandchildren.
When the previous National Climate Assessment was released, in 2014, the stupidity mob dismissed the scientists’ warning that the climate “is changing at a factor of 10 times more than naturally. It is here and it is happening.” One of the most prominent deniers was Texas Republican congressman Lamar Smith, who, in his capacity as House Science Committee chairman, assailed the report as “a political document intended to frighten Americans.” Fortunately, at that time, we had a president from the opposing party who believed in science.
Alas, that’s no longer true. The release of the new report has exposed anew the mentality of the dolt-in-chief. When asked on Monday about the report his regime tried to bury last Friday, he quickly decreed: “I don’t believe it.” He was echoed yesterday by his mouthpiece, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who told the press that the fact-packed report “is not based on facts,” a remark which suggests that either she didn’t bother to open it or that she needs a course in remedial reading.
Trump has long been insulting our intelligence, multiple times a day, but never moreso than when he insists we ignore the empirical evidence in front of us. Earlier this month, fellow Americans who died tragically in the California wildfires — the new report says that prolonged droughts are drying the western forests, “making them more susceptible to burning” — but Trump talks about raking the forest floors. An idea he attributed to Finland, which Finland has dismissed as fantasy.
But to get the full flavor of his gibberish, you need to behold his response to a question posed to him yesterday by The Washington Post. This was the question: “Can you just explain why you’re skeptical of that report?”
This was his verbatim answer (try to read the whole thing, as painful as the effort may be):
“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself — we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including — just many other places — the air is incredibly dirty. And when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, it flows, and we say where does this come from. And it takes many people to start off with. Number two, if you go back and if you look at articles, they talked about global freezing, they talked about at some point the planets could have freeze to death, then it’s going to die of heat exhaustion. There is movement in the atmosphere. There’s no question. As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it — not nearly like it is. Do we want clean water? Absolutely. Do we want clean air to breathe? Absolutely. The fire in California, where I was, if you looked at the floor, the floor of the fire, they have trees that were fallen, they did no forest management, no forest maintenance, and you can light — you can take a match like this and light a tree trunk when that thing is laying there for more than 14 or 15 months. And it’s a massive problem in California.”
There’s no point in parsing all his dimwitted digressions. I’ll just highlight two things: His insistence that he’s too smart to believe in science — people like him, with their “high levels of intelligence” — and his boast that climate change doesn’t exist because America has cleaner air and water than other nations. Perhaps someone in his employ, at the risk of being fired, should remind him that America’s air and water is at “record clean” — cleaner, at least, than they were 50 years ago — thanks to the work of the Environmental Protection Agency. Which he is persistently trying to destroy.
Galileo, decrying anti-science stupidity, lamented in a letter to a friend: “What would you say of the (people) who … have steadfastly refused to cast a glance at the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh or shall we cry?” Fortunately, in America, there is a third option: Voting. And thanks to the blue wave, a Democrat who believes in science will soon chair the House Science Committee. Hey, it’s a start. And it sure beats crying.
Meanwhile, as expected, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith won the runoff election in Mississippi last night, despite her white racist baggage, beating black Democrat Mike Espy. No surprise there. This was Mississippi.
But there’s an upside: In the seven previous Mississippi Senate races dating back to 2000, the Republican candidate won by an average of 30 percentage points. The national GOP pumped big money into Hyde-Smith’s race, and Trump stumped for her twice on Monday. But last night, her winning margin was only 7.8 points.
That, too, is a start.