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Obstructing, Denying and Dithering in the U.S. Congress

October 15, 2013

Congress has its own way of getting things done stalled.  Of course, at the moment we are waiting for them to rescue the civilized world from all their imagined horrors, including health care for people who presently don’t have any.  They are elated and have grand views of themselves for causing the government’s shutdown.

“We’re very excited.  It’s exactly what we wanted, and we got it.”
– Michelle Bachmann, a member of Congress from Minnesota since 2007

Congress has found ways to obstruct progress on just about everything we need right now, from food for the hungry, jobs and economic stimulus to economic stability.  They have also worked overtime to slow down climate change initiatives.  Some reject the prevailing scientific studies and some think that these issues can only be solved by the magic hand of the marketplace.  Others, such as Bachmann (a candidate for president in 2012), simply cannot imagine that we need to even concern ourselves with such matters.

“[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she’s just trying to save the planet. … We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet — we didn’t need Nancy Pelosi to do that.”

On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, on the floor of the House of Representatives, Bachmann gave her colleagues her scientific view on carbon dioxide.

“Carbon dioxide, Mister Speaker, is a natural byproduct of nature. Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of coal plantthe regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can’t even exist without carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life, to animal life, to plant life, to the oceans, to the vegetation that’s on the Earth, to the, to the fowl that — that flies in the air, we need to have carbon dioxide as part of the fundamental lifecycle of Earth.”

Bachmann has company with this basic stance.  Here is U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

“Carbon dioxide is a basic building block of our existence. Regulating that is the height of arrogance.”

.  According to ThinkProgress, based on public statements made by members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives:

  • 90 percent of the Republican leadership in both House and Senate deny climate change
  • 17 out of 22 Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, or 77 percent, are climate deniers
  • 22 out of 30 Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, or 73 percent deny the reality of climate change
  • 100 percent of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans have said climate change is not happening or that humans do not cause it.

Per NASA, temperatures are increasing

Armed with the experience of getting things done and a consensus of climate scientists who have warned about the dangers of man-made climate change, former EPA administrators told these people to accept the science and to get to work.  In an August 2013 New York Times op-ed piece, the agency’s leaders during the Republican administrations of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush urged congress to get off the dime and support Barack Obama.

“…The costs of inaction are undeniable.  The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”


Scientists agree that our activities contribute to increasing global temperatures.

…Rather than argue against his proposals, our leaders in Congress should endorse them and start the overdue debate about what bigger steps are needed and how to achieve them — domestically and internationally.

…Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start.  More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet.  The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon.  What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.”

The science indicates that worldwide, the gas is at its highest levels in three million years.  We learned recently that levels reached an all-time high of more than four hundred parts per million at an Hawaiian mountaintop research facility.   In the two-and-a-half months since these veterans from Republican administrations released their appeal, Americans have generated another 1,132 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

I guess that we can bicker about the science while the earth’s climate changes.  Most of us are not qualified to deeply critique the actual work of these highly-trained experts.  I’m not.  But are we prepared to deny or ignore the message from the scientists at all costs?

And as we watch the carbon dioxide levels increase, do we really want this current cast in the U.S. Congress affecting public policy?  They are oblivious to the warnings from the scientists and seem to care less about the counsel from people charged with running the EPA for more than two decades.  Their response and actions are the height of arrogance and immaturity.  Their incompetence is evident when they cannot accept that they might not be as well informed on climate change as people who have dedicated their training and careers to the topic.

And of course, this may also be just one more issue where money talks at the cost of others.  With these Representatives’ choice of benefactors, the denial and stall will likely continue.  These 157 elected officials who deny that our industrial practices have an impact on climate, have taken $51 million from fossil fuel lobbies that have a vested interest in their continued obstruction.

It’s long past time to send these people home.

  1. permalink

    I just know, any time now, I am going to receive a new piece form you that is so uplifting and sustaining that it will carry me all the way through the darkest weeks of winter and well into 2014…


    • Now, wait a minute. Just in the recent past few, we have “A Proper Goodbye”, “Off the Peg”, and “The Real Universe”. All felt real good at the time and still do. But yes, with the last three now in the books, it may be time for something more uplifting.


  2. Or not… maybe if we survive this month’s fiscal crisis and fail to plunge the whole world into another Great Depression, you can write something positive, Bruce. Even the Russians are lecturing us now. Dysfunctional is too kind of a word. I’m thinking %#&*$%@ stupid, but you don’t use those kind of words. –Curt


  3. Ha – that’s funny, Curt. Those are the kind of words that come to mind when these hopeless and cynical politicians are in the picture. We can’t let them drag us down.


  4. Ajaytao2010 permalink

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