Is Climate Change the GOP Galileo Moment?

We’ve been featuring Mark Hertsgaard’s new book (which we’ll soon be giving away), HOT: Living Through the Next 50 Years on Earth, and activism on here lately (including his video interviews with infamous Senator Inhofe and oil lobbyists). Now, he’s got a new piece out in Politico that is clearly worth and so I thought I’d share it here as well. (Note: I think I read through hundreds of articles a day. If I decide to cut and paste an article straight up like this, it’s for good reason — it’s a good piece.)

Will it take the Republican Party as long to accept modern science as it took the Roman Catholic Church? The church waited 359 years to admit Galileo was right — the earth does move around the sun. Not until 1992 did the Vatican officially withdraw its condemnation of the man Albert Einstein called the father of modern science.

Today, even children know that the earth revolves around the sun. But that idea was heresy to the 17th-century church. When Galileo would not abandon his views, the Inquisition put him on trial in 1633. He was forced to recant under penalty of death, then lived under house arrest for the rest of his life.

Now the House Republican majority is launching its own attack on Galileo’s scientific descendants. Rejecting mainstream climate science became a GOP litmus test during the 2010 midterm elections. Republican leaders then floated the idea of putting mainstream climate science on trial in congressional hearings.

This week, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Energy Committee, introduced legislation that would “repeal” the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific determination that greenhouse gases threaten human health and welfare.

After Galileo reluctantly recanted, legend has it that he muttered, “Eppure, si muove.” In other words — censorship and repression could not change physical fact: The earth moves around the sun, whether the church agreed or not.

This is true today: Modern science has conclusively demonstrated that human activities are dangerously overheating the planet — notwithstanding Republicans’ desire to repeal that conclusion.

Republicans are the only major political party in the world that rejects this mainstream climate science. The right-of-center parties controlling governments in Britain, Germany and France, for example, not only embrace mainstream climate science, they support far more aggressive climate policies than anything advocated by Republicans — or Democrats — in Washington.

U.S. news coverage usually refers to climate deniers as skeptics. That is misleading. Skepticism is invaluable to the scientific method. But an honest skeptic can be persuaded by facts. These deniers are largely impervious to facts — at least facts that contradict their worldview.

Read the 2nd half of this wonderful piece on Politico: Climate change: GOP Galileo moment

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