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Bill Straub: Mocking Indiana Jones isn’t appropriate response to the real problem of climate change


The United Kingdom’s Met Office, which serves as that nation’s weather service, recently determined that the world’s oceans have warmed to a greater degree than previously thought, indicating that previous estimates of global climate change have been too low.

Meanwhile, a recently released report from the International Monetary Fund, the University of Cambridge and the University of Southern California established that temperature increases associated with global climate change will have a negative impact on economic growth, resulting in a 10.5 percent decline in America’s gross national product by 2100.

The impact of global climate change was there for all the world to see in Iceland earlier this week when the country acknowledged the passing of Okjokull, the first glacier lost there as a result of warming temperatures.

Thomas Massie

This past July proved to be the warmest on record as a heatwave spread through Western Europe and turned much of the United States into a sauna.

There’s more, but let’s pause for a moment to consider the manner in which Rep. Thomas Massie, R-SomewhereorotherLewisCounty, aka Wonder Boy, reacted to the shocking turn of events and the dire consequences of unimpeded global climate change.

He mocked an actor, Harrison Ford.

…Okay.

In a tweet – an obvious bane in 21st Century existence — our Whiz Kid noted that Ford, famous for his role as Indiana Jones and Han Solo in the Star Wars movies, appeared at some function in San Francisco last year and took the opportunity to warn that “those least responsible will bear the biggest cost” of global climate change. And he chided public officials for refusing to acknowledge the solid scientific evidence that humans are responsible for the dangerously increasing temperatures as a result, to a large extent, of carbon dioxide emissions.

“Stop giving power to people who don’t believe in science,” Ford said. “Or worse than that, pretend they don’t believe in science for their own self-interest.”

Massie appears to fall into that latter category. Wonder Boy responded not by contradicting the weighty evidence establishing the existence of global climate change caused primarily by human activity but by noting that Ford occasionally pilots a plane, therefore presumably contributing to the carbon dioxide problem.

“The number one reason to question the sincerity of elite preachy Hollywood and DC climate-alarmists? Their blatant and unapologetic hypocrisy,” Massie tweeted. “My house has been running 100% on solar for 12 years, but I don’t want to legislate or condemn your energy choices.”

Well, isn’t that special.

Now, to be fair, Massie also included on his Twitter account a chart tracing an increase in crop yields during an era when carbon dioxide emissions grew substantially, hoping the information leads the undiscerning to the conclusion that CO2 is actually good for you, ignoring the fact that technological and biological advances are responsible for the crop growth.

Regardless, Massie never addresses the concerns of the climatological community, which overwhelmingly maintains global climate changing is a growing and dangerous threat that simply can’t be ignored any longer. What we find him resorting to is the old right-wing shibboleth of deriding Hollywood types who, like other citizens of this nation, dare to express their opinions. And of course, he achieves this by avoiding any notion of substance.

And what comments uttered by Harrison Ford of Hollywood have to do with “Dc climate-alarmists” is open to speculation.

What Whiz Kid is doing here is mounting a diversion – seeking to draw the attention of the public away from a difficult issue by pointing at a big, shiny object that has little or nothing to do with the matter at hand. It is a tactic that has been perfected by President Trump, aka President Extremely Stable Genius. Face a possible recession, talk about buying Greenland. Get caught bragging about sexually abusing women? Say your female opponent for president should be in prison.

It’s all the rage nowadays and, of course, Massie is using it to thumb his nose at anyone warning about the dire consequences of global climate change while simultaneously failing to really address the issue. He’s not alone. Save for Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, everyone else in the Commonwealth’s congressional delegation has taken a powder, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch “Root-‘n-Branch’’ McConnell, of Louisville, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green.

McConnell, who calls the tune when it comes to action on the upper chamber floor, is on record saying climate change is caused by human activities. But that record further shows he has attempted to do absolutely nothing about it.

Moscow Mitch mocked efforts by progressive Democrats back in March when they put forward the Green New Deal, saying, “The proposal addresses the small matter of eliminating the use of all fossil fuels nationwide in a 10-year time frame. This might sound like a neat idea in places like San Francisco or New York, the places that the Democratic Party seems totally focused on these days. But communities practically everywhere else would be absolutely crushed.”

Fine. The package would have caused hardship and proponents had no expectations for it passing as is. But no one, most particularly McConnell, has come forward with an alternative. In fact, his National Environmental Scorecard, produced by the League of Conservation Voters, gives him a lifetime tally of 7 percent, an incredibly damning result.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones (Photo from Wikipedia)

For this ol’ Root-‘n-Branch is lauded as a legislative genius. Like life in Casablanca, genius is cheap in the Senate these days. Even Massie, who has, perhaps, the strangest voting record you’re likely to find, has a lifetime score of 12 percent, according to the LCV.

Several members of the delegation – Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville, Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, and Paul are all listed as climate change deniers by Vice News. In 2017, Comer told cn2, “I do not believe in global warming. I’m the one person whose business and livelihood depends on Mother Nature, so I understand weather patterns. We’ve had a very severe winter this year with 12-inch snows, so there is no global warming.”

One of the dumber statements uttered by a lawmaker over the past few years. And the competition is fierce.

Let’s lay the cards on the table. According to the NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the planet’s average surface temperature has risen by about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with the five warmest years on record taking place since 2010. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that made up the year — from January through September, with the exception of June — were the warmest on record for those respective months.

As a result, the oceans are warming, the ice sheets are shrinking, glaciers like the aforementioned Okjokull are retreating, sea levels are rising and extreme weather events are much more common than in the past. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change maintains that “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

Those are facts, friends. And the way Wonder Boy Massie wants to attack the problem is by mocking Indiana Jones.

Beautiful.

Quick note on a sad event I should have mentioned earlier. Gary Auxier, an old friend who preceded me as Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post and went on to serve as an aide to Sen. Walter “Dee’’ Huddleston, D-Elizabethtown, sadly passed away last month at the too-young age of 74.

Listing Gary’s accomplishments would consume an entire column. A native of Ashland, he made the wise choice of leaving the life of an ink-stained wretch to become the press secretary for Gov. Julian Carroll in 1976, eventually rising to the position of commissioner of public information. He worked for U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-WI, in Washington DC before joining Huddleston’s staff in 1980.

But where he really set his mark was in the private sector, He joined the Washington office of the Burson-Marsteller public relations firm in 1985 and remained there for the next 21 years, working primarily out of Washington, eventually rising to the position of executive vice president and, for many years, chief operating officer in the firm’s DC office.

If you ever got invited to Gary’s house for dinner in Falls Church, Virginia, during those DC years, you never asked any questions, you just went. Terrific food he prepared himself, plentiful libation, wonderful conversation and cigars.

Let’s just sum it all up by saying he was a great guy and will be terribly missed. Once again it seems like the end of an era. Regards to his wife, Jenny Pulliam, who I think I’ve known longer than I knew Gary.

KyForward’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.


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