Hi there, Dear Reader. It is late morning in Lithia, Florida, on Friday, June 17, 2022. It is a hot early summer day here in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 86°F (30°C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 77% and the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 4 MPH (7 KM/H), the heat index is 95°F (35°C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 96°F (36°C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 74°F (23°C).
Here near the Gulf Coast, we are on the edge of the oppressive heat wave that grips the South and Midwest of the United States. As I often say in posts where I discuss weather and climate change, this was not the norm when I was younger. When Mom and I – later followed by my half-sister Vicky – first moved back to the Miami area in the late spring of 1972, June was not necessarily a superhot month. The average mean temperature in Miami for June 1972 was 81.46 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the data in Weather Underground. In June of 2022, the average mean temperature in the Tampa Bay area has been 82.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Since both cities are on the coast and therefore get sea breezes, the changes are not – on the surface – terribly drastic, but summers are getting hotter and days with highs in the 90s occur earlier in the season than they used to.
I bring this up because conservatives – from all parties all over the world – have made climate change denial one of their “I’m gonna die on this hill” positions when it comes to what policies they like or dislike. This contrarianism, I believe, is partly based on lack of faith in science, especially in Earth sciences that study such things as loss of natural habitat and its effect on wildlife, the availability of fossil fuels and the results of our modern world’s overdependence on them, and the effects of pollution on the natural environment.
Some of this lack of faith stems from the lack of interest in science on the part of many folks, both educated and uneducated. Often, this is because some people believe that faith-based “knowledge” – regardless of which religion they practice – trumps “secular science” and take the word of their holy scriptures literally. Others have a more nuanced view and accept some scientific principles but not others. Still others take a practical approach and accept the notion that science and religion do not necessarily clash with each other, but still dismiss scientific studies in areas where their financial bottom line may be adversely affected by the findings of those studies.
For several decades, most of the scientific community – especially that branch that studies Earth science – has determined that the Earth’s climate is changing, in no small part due to human activity on the planet, especially by the continued use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas.
Naturally, the big corporations that have anything to do with extracting, processing, and selling fossil fuels do not like what the majority of Earth scientists say about their industries. And until relatively recently, their go-to strategy was to contribute hefty donations to the political campaigns of legislators and heads of state who have conservative, pro-Big Business beliefs and get them to get on board the climate change denial train.
I mention this because Republicans and “red dog” conservative Democrats in both houses of Congress are hammering the Biden Administration over high gas prices here in the U.S.
Here is a video from a few weeks back showing a group of GOP Senators lashing out at the current President over what they perceive is his Administration’s antipathy toward the oil companies:
And here is another video from a few years ago in which then-President Donald Trump’s supporters toed the then-prevailing argument that climate change was not a threat to the planet:
While I concede that some of these politicians genuinely believe that climate change is just an outlandish theory concocted by “liberal scientists,” I strongly suspect that most of them just like getting those campaign donations or have huge investments in the fossil fuel industry.
I also admit that some, younger Republicans are less resistant to the notion that climate change is real, as this video shows:
Still, the prevailing conservative position – a cynical one, at that – is that liberals just want to scare everyone with “unproven” theories and shut down Big Oil, thus putting hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. fossil fuels industry out of work.
And since Republicans are using “wallet” issues such as inflation, rising prices, and fears of a recession as a cudgel against Democrats in the 2022 midterms, they are content with fixing blame but pushing back against bills proposed by Democratic legislators to prolong the pain and thus regain control of Congress in November.
Truly, modern conservatism never ceases to disappoint me with its contrarianism, obstructionism, and increasing authoritarianism.