Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ted Cruz 's Climate Change Chicanery

Texas Senator Ted Cruz: Nothing to see here folks!
Well I'm sitting here making a late Sunday brunch while listening to A Prairie Home Companion on NPR with all the windows in my apartment wide open enjoying some amazing weekend weather.

Which wouldn't be all that unusual except for the fact that it's December 12th and it's partly sunny and 70 degrees outside here in central New Jersey.

The weather has been like this the past few days and local meteorologists are saying temperatures are somewhere between 20 to 23 degrees above normal for this time of year, so Republican Senator Ted Cruz picked a rather peculiar time to hold a Senate hearing to call into question the fact that human activity has influenced climate change.

The Tea Party poster boy and presidential candidate, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, made headlines last Monday when he cherry-picked substantive climate change data to try and cast doubt on what the overwhelming majority of scientists agree on - that humans are changing the planets climate and contributing to global warming.

As Emily Atkin reported in an article on, Cruz confused the Arctic with the Antarctic, quoted NASA climate research out of context and tried to poke holes in established scientific fact in an effort to prove that global warming is a myth.

The timing of Cruz's attack on science is part of a carefully planned Republican strategy to try and undermine the historic agreement on limiting climate change reached at the COP21 summit in Paris by almost 200 different countries including the world's biggest polluters, including the U.S., China and India.   

The deal calls for taking steps to keep global temperature rise to under 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, capping greenhouse gas emissions and providing $100 billion a year to small developing nations to help finance their efforts to transition their emerging economies to more climate-friendly energy sources like wind, solar and hydroelectric instead of relying on coal and oil.

Cruz's Senate hearings aren't surprising given that his largest campaign contributions by industry come from oil and gas companies and, or industries that represent them.

According to data compiled by posted on the Website, the oil and gas industry has donated at least $952,380 to Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign.

It's rare to get almost 200 nations to agree on anything, and taking concrete steps to address climate change is in the long-term interests of humans, plants, animals, the oceans, rivers, lakes and the atmosphere - but the majority of Republican politicians in Congress view it exclusively from the one dimensional perspective of the financial interests of the oil, gas and coal industries.

While Republicans view entitlement programs like Social Security, unemployment insurance and Medicare that benefit average Americans with contempt, they're like zealots when it comes to protecting billions of dollars in lavish taxpayer-funded subsidies for America's oil and gas producers in the form of sketchy tax loopholes and other financial chicanery.

As an article on last June reported, a report by the International Monetary Fund showed that collectively, the world's countries provide a mind-boggling $5.3 trillion a year in taxpayer funds to subsidize fossil fuel companies that make huge profits even as they contribute to the pumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which are altering the climate.

So Cruz using a Senate hearing as a platform to try and debunk climate change science is more about money than it is ideology, even though his sketchy arguments against human influence on climate change are largely ideologically driven.

Smog blankets the city of Beijing, China
In the meantime the evidence of global warming is all around us.

My friend Jeff just got back from a 12-day business trip to China where he spent time in the city of Shanghai.

He told me the pollution levels were bad enough to create near-constant overcast skies which at times could make it difficult to see store fronts across the street from his hotel.

It wasn't uncommon for him to see people walking around the streets wearing filter masks or even gas masks. 

He said Shanghai isn't nearly as bad as Beijing though.

On the very same day that Ted Cruz was holding his Senate Subcommittee hearing last Monday to deny that humans are contributing to climate change, hazardous levels of smog blanketing the city of Beijing prompted the first-ever "red alert" for toxic levels of smog that are some 20 times the level considered safe for the city's 20 million residents.

As Edward Wong reported in The New York Times last week, the smog prompted the government to shut down schools, businesses, factories and even some highways because of the lack of visibility caused in large part by fumes from coal burning factories and the millions of drivers who clog Beijing's roads.

Maybe Ted Cruz needs to take a fact-finding trip to Beijing; he could hold his hearings from there if the smog isn't too thick.

Anyway look for Republicans in Congress to continue doing what they can to undermine the U.S. honoring the commitments they agreed to in Paris while questioning whether man is influencing global warming.

In the meantime it's going to be 70 degrees in central New Jersey tomorrow - but I'm certain the 40 billion tons of CO2 that humans pumped into the atmosphere in 2014 have nothing to do with that.


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