Eventually the truth, like cream, rises to the top, though it sometimes takes a long time. Perhaps it’s because we live in a world with so much technological capability that allows us to merely think of something and it becomes true — which has led us to believe whatever we wish to be true is true. In other words, some of us appear to have lost the distinction between fact and fantasy.
Sadly, there are a number of things out there that, no matter how hard we might wish it otherwise, are facts. Death and taxes are two (though if you have enough money you might be able to avoid the second one). The fact that the massive amount of combustion products we’ve emitted over time has substantially altered our planetary climatic system is a third. It seems that the facts are on one side, while the money is on the other, which might explain the standoff we’ve been seeing in Washington.
There is a young man in Congress, a Republican named Chris Gibson, who has announced his intention to put forth a resolution that will help others “recognize the reality” of the situation. Gibson, who represents the 19th district in New York (Hudson Valley), is basing the move on what he has observed:
“My district has been hit with three 500-year floods in the last several years, so either you believe that we had a 1 in over 100 million probability that occurred, or you believe as I do that there’s a new normal; and we have changing weather patterns, and we have climate change. This is the science.”
Gibson, who was just re-elected in November, does not have a particularly strong environmental record. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) gave him a rating of 43 percent this year, though it has improved steadily since his 17 percent rating in 2011, which suggests that his position is evolving. Last year he voted against fracking, though he also voted to prioritize oil drilling on public lands. This year he voted against undermining the EPA and the ability to use sound science, while at the same time, voting for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Gibson stands in marked relief from fellow Republicans like Sen. James Inhofe, who are outright deniers. Gibson understands which side the facts are on.
“I hope that my party — that we will come to be comfortable with this, because we have to operate in the realm of knowledge and science, and I still think we can bring forward conservative solutions to this, absolutely. But we have to recognize the reality.”
Gibson hopes the bill will, “harken us to our best sense, our ability to overcome hard challenges.”
Specifics of the bill are not yet clear. Gibson acknowledges signing the Koch brothers pledge, but denies that the pledge was to “do nothing” about the problem. Instead, as he points out on his website, he merely pledged to “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”
That sounds like a matter of semantics, though it does leave open the idea of a carbon tax in which the funds collected are redistributed back to consumers, a popular option. As to why he felt the need to sign the Koch brothers pledge is another question, though it could have something to do with financial support. He claims it’s because he opposes raising energy prices.
Still, Gibson has voted in support of renewables and against subsidies for fossil fuels, making him a true rarity among Republicans. What remains to be seen is what kind of support he can garner among his Republican colleagues. Perhaps the time has come for a meaningful first step.
Image compilation by RP Siegel