Climate change deniers are finding it harder and harder to sustain their bubble; with assaults coming from all sides, they’re scrambling to plug the holes knocked in their tapestry of lies.
And the biggest hit is yet to come: this Thursday, Pope Francis is expected to deliver his encyclical on climate change, shifting climate change to a moral issue — and the right-wingers are already launching a series of preemptive attacks on the pope in a desperate bid to shore up their crumbling reality.
The Pope Ought To Stay With His Job, And We’ll Do Ours
The prospect of the pope, head of the largest religion in the world, diving into the climate change debate has the right nervous. Many on the right see the pope’s call for action as a direct assault on a core belief.
While receiving an award at a climate denier’s conference last week, Senator James Inhofe, one of the biggest deniers of climate change, told the crowd:
The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours.
Rick Santorum echoed the sentiment while discussing the matter on a Philadelphia radio station. Santorum, a devout Catholic, told the audience:
The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”
A large number of right-wing thinktanks, like the Heartland Institute, are heavily funded by the oil industry. These thinktanks, as well as the American Petroleum Institute lobbying group and Peabody Coal, have managed to convince some 80 percent of the people on the far right that climate change isn’t real.
Out of the nearly 20 Republicans running for president, only one acknowledges the danger of climate change: Lindsey Graham.
The problem is almost exclusively one of partisan politics, according to Reverend Mitchell Hescox, the leader of the Evangelical Environmental Network:
In the US for the past 10 years we have allowed climate change to become an ideological political issue instead of being the moral issue that it is. The idea that climate change is a liberal issue has just permeated the thought of those in the conservative movement, and those in the denier campaign have taken advantage of that to continue to drive home the message that climate change is not a moral issue.
The pope throwing his weight behind climate change science, however, makes it harder to dismiss climate change along partisan lines. And the right knows it, too; Patrick Regan, a teacher of climate change politics at Notre Dame University, observed: “If I were a Catholic climate denier, I would be worried about the pope,”and, “If I had a vested interest in not changing climate policy, the pope would be a threat to my political stance.”
A Battle With Reality On Multiple Fronts
Francis’ unprecedented encyclical on Thursday is just one of many battles with the truth that climate deniers have to deal with. The encyclical will focus not just on climate change — although that is the primary thrust — but also on ethical and economic revolution against growing inequality.
The encyclical for the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide will be sent to 5,000 bishops and will be published online in five languages. Although it’s aimed primarily at Catholics, more than just Catholics will hear one of the most powerful spiritual leaders in the world speak.
And this is just one direct assault on the worldview of conservatives.
Aside from the papal encyclical, Barack Obama is expected to finish new regulations for cutting carbon pollution from power plants. Then, in September, Pope Francis will be back again, this time with a speech to Congress — just as the hardcore right-wing is expected to vote on legislation that will block the power plant rules and cut climate aid to developing countries.
The attacks are coming from within their party, as well:
Meanwhile, Jay Faison, a conservative Christian businessman from North Carolina, last week pledged $175m of his own money to try to get Republicans to face up to the reality of climate change and the American Enterprise Institute, the establishment conservative thinktank in Washington, gave a platform – and respectful hearing – to two Democratic senators launching a bill for a carbon fee.
The liars about climate change can see the writing on the wall, too. According to Marc Morano, who recently compared the Pope’s stance on climate change to Mesoamerican human sacrifice:
The pope being involved in this is a huge coup for promoters of manmade global warming.
The pope putting his weight behind climate change is likely to cause a crisis of faith in some, like Speaker John Boehner, described by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) as a “proud and sincere Catholic.” Whitehouse went on to say:
Speaker John Boehner is a very proud and sincere Catholic, and I think it can’t not have an effect. I also think it will change the debate in public because it isn’t just an encyclical that goes up on the Vatican website. Every Catholic school will teach to it. Every Catholic parish will teach to it. Catholic universities will teach to it. It will be a significant force in the community and create very significant ripples.
I think it is very hard to discredit the pope. This completely destroys most of their arguments that climate change is not real, that it is funded by a ‘mass UN conspiracy,’ that it is all to do with Al Gore and not to do with people of world.
This is a losing argument for the Republicans and right-wingers. The question isn’t if the Republicans will lose, it’s whether they’ll lose in time for the rest of us to undo the damage they did.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons