It is difficult to understand how the Republican Party of 2017, whose leader, President Donald Trump, has called global warming a hoax, reversed environmental policies that Senator John McCain and the then Republican Party of 2008, advocated on his run for the White House, The New York Times reports.
Thus, this past week Trump announced that he would take the nation out of the Paris climate accord, which was to bind the globe in an effort to halt the planet’s warming. The Republican Party’s fast journey from debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist is a story of big political money, Democratic hubris in the Obama years and a partisan chasm that grew over nine years like a crack in the Antarctic shelf, favoring extreme positions and uncompromising rhetoric over cooperation and conciliation.
“Most Republicans still do not regard climate change as a hoax. But the entire climate change debate has now been caught up in the broader polarization of American politics” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who worked for Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.
“In some ways, it’s become yet another of the long list of litmus test issues that determine whether or not you’re a good Republican”, he added.
Since John McCain ran for president on climate credentials that were stronger than his opponent Barack Obama’s, the scientific evidence linking greenhouse gases from fossil fuels to the dangerous warming of the planet has grown stronger. Scientists have for the first time drawn concrete links between the warming atmosphere and changes that affect Americans’ daily lives and pocketbooks, The New York Times writes.
That scientific consensus was enough to pull virtually all of the major nations along. Conservative-leaning governments in Britain, France, Germany and Japan all signed on to successive climate change agreements. Yet when Trump pulled the United States from the Paris accord, the Senate majority leader, the speaker of the House and every member of the elected Republican leadership were united in their praise.
Republican leadership has also been dominated by lawmakers whose constituents were genuinely threatened by policies that would raise the cost of burning fossil fuels, especially coal. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, always sensitive to the coal fields in his state, rose through the ranks to become majority leader. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming also climbed into leadership, then the chairmanship of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, as a champion of his coal state.
Trump has staffed his White House and cabinet with officials who have denied, or at least questioned, the existence of global warming. On Thursday, as he announced the United States’ withdrawal, Trump at once claimed that the Paris climate accord would cost the nation millions of jobs and that it would do next to nothing for the climate.