Politics & Policy

Climate McCarthyism Is on the Rise

Satellite image of Hurricane Irma over Cuba, September 8, 2017. (NASA/Handout via Reuters)
The two recent hurricanes have made it even worse.

Call it Climate McCarthyism.

The question, “Do you believe in climate change?” is the new, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?” Since Donald Trump’s election, climate activists, Democratic politicians, and the media have led a collective inquisition into administration officials, creating a blacklist of those who stray from the ideological groupthink on human-caused climate change.. These demagogues aim to make climate “denial” an offense that should prevent anyone from getting a job or receiving disaster relief. Even the Pope this week suggested political leaders who are climate deniers will face consequences.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was repeatedly subjected to climate interrogations during his confirmation process. CIA Director Mike Pompeo was grilled about his views on climate change by Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) during his confirmation hearing. Harris blamed climate change for rising instability in the world, and demanded to know where Pompeo stood on the issue.

Two major hurricanes have emboldened the climate inquisitors. During a White House briefing Monday about Hurricane Irma, Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert was asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta about the connection between climate change and national security. After Acosta falsely claimed that storms are more frequent and intense (no science supports this; the U.S. has just enjoyed twelve years without a major hurricane), he asked Bossert, “When you see three Category 4 hurricanes all on the same map at the same time, does the thought occur to you, ‘Jeez you know, maybe there is something to this climate change thing and its connection to powerful hurricanes?’” This is your average grade-school understanding of science.

Two new Trump appointees are now before the climate kangaroo court. Representative Jim Bridenstine (R., Okla.), the president’s pick to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is being branded a climate denier as activists attempt to build opposition to his pending Senate confirmation. His offense? During a House speech in 2014, Bridenstine dared to blame natural forces — not human activity — for global warming and correctly said global temperatures had not risen in the past ten years.

Although Bridenstine is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, a decorated naval aviator, and staunch supporter of space exploration, that’s not enough to satisfy the climate enforcers. Climate Hawks Vote, a PAC that has former Obama adviser Van Jones and environmental activist Bill McKibben on its advisory board, launched a petition campaign to stop Bridenstine’s Senate confirmation: “NASA needs to be run by someone who respects science. Not climate denier Jim Bridenstine.”

Vox’s David Roberts wrote (with zero self-awareness) that “it is difficult to appreciate just how deeply and ceaselessly bizarre US climate politics has become. Several bits of recent news — for instance, Trump’s nomination of a climate denier with no scientific credentials to lead NASA — serve to illustrate the point.” A Newsweek headline read, “Who is Jim Bridenstine, the climate-change denier Trump picked to head NASA?” The piece scoffs that Bridenstine is a “critic of climate science” for saying the scientifically accurate claim that “the climate has always changed.” Now, even repeating an historical, scientific fact amounts to misconduct in the eyes of the climate witch-hunters.

Sam Clovis, Trump’s nominee for a top scientific post at the Department of Agriculture, has been branded both a climate denier and “an unacceptable and illegal choice” by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a liberal activist group. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Senator Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii) urged Trump to withdraw Clovis’s nomination “because he is a proud ‘skeptic’ of climate change and wildly unqualified for the position of USDA Chief Scientist.” (Both Clovis and Bridenstine are under scrutiny for not having specific scientific degrees because of course scientists make the best managers.)

A New York Times editorial over the weekend — “President Trump’s War on Science” (about the hundredth appearance of this headline in that paper since the election) — says that Clovis is unqualified because he “is not a scientist: He’s a former talk-radio host and incendiary blogger who has labeled climate research ‘junk science.’”

It’s not just Trump appointees and officials the climate cabal is going after; they want us, too. Charles Wheelen, a writer and Dartmouth College fellow, put forth the “modest proposal” of a climate registry where every American “would be asked to sign our name to one of two statements: 1. Yes, I believe that the risk of climate change is significant enough that we ought to take action now to reduce the possibility of future harm. 2. No, I do not believe that we should take any action now to prevent climate change.” History could then judge us based on our answer.

HBO’s Bill Maher recently displayed his lack of understanding of both climate change and basic economics when he suggested that victims of Hurricane Harvey should not be entitled to federal relief because their elected officials don’t believe in manmade climate change: “These places that got flooded, like Texas, okay, they have a low tax base. So the federal government bails them out. Their governors, their legislators they don’t believe in climate science.” Someone might want to tell Maher that Texas might have a low state tax burden, but the state ranks No. 2 in the amount of money it pays to the federal government each year.

Pope Francis also went on a bit of rant this week from the papal jumbo jet (no irony there) and cited a Biblical passage to describe climate deniers: “I am reminded of a phrase from the Old Testament, from the Psalm: ‘Man is stupid. When you don’t want to see, you don’t see.’” His Holiness called addressing climate change a moral responsibility, and warned that humanity would “go down” if we refused to do so. “Then they [leaders] decide and history will judge those decisions.”

There are many more examples of this Climate McCarthyism and we should only expect it to worsen on the heels of two destructive hurricanes. And to answer the question before it is asked: No, these people have no decency.


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