The headline at The Daily Caller: Democratic senator uses Okla. tornado for anti-GOP rant over global warming
Well, not exactly. At least it isn’t as bad as the original title: Democratic Sen. Whitehouse Blames Republicans for Tornado. On the one hand, global warming is causing warmer, wetter weather which is fueling the catastrophic weather changes we are seeing. On the other hand, we could imagine inappropriate statements which might sound inappropriate this soon after the Oklahoma tornado. Let’s look behind the headline at what Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said:
“So, you may have a question for me,” Whitehouse said. “Why do you care? Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I’ll tell you why. We’re stuck in this together. We are stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we’re in this together.”
Whitehouse went on to condemn the current Republican position on global warming, citing economic, environmental and diplomatic damages.
“You drag America with you to your fate,” he continued. “So, I want this future: I want a Republican Party that has returned to its senses and is strong and a worthy adversary in a strong America that has done right by its people and the world. That’s what I want. I don’t want this future. I don’t want a Republican Party disgraced, that let its extremists run off the cliff, and an America suffering from grave economic and environmental and diplomatic damage because we failed, because we didn’t wake up and do our duty to our people, and because we didn’t lead the world. I do not want that future. But that’s where we’re headed. So I will keep reaching out and calling out, ever hopeful that you will wake up before it is too late.”
This was widely quoted on conservative blogs but unfortunately they won’t learn from this. There is nothing inappropriate here. It is an accurate assessment of the political divide in this country over science and its effects, placing the Oklahoma tornado in context. It is probably premature to say with certainty whether any one event is caused by climate change, but overall there is no doubt about the role that climate change has in more volatile weather conditions. Conservatives might not be able to handle the truth, but their denial of science does cost lives. If they don’t care about this, their policies are also causing considerable economic damage. This is reactionary extremism, not conservatism in the traditional sense.