All of this propaganda is designed to mislead the public, or at the very least, confuse them. The effort has been enormously successful in the United States, as can be seen in this article in Salon magazine, written by Reynard Loki and originally published in Alternet. Loki identifies the people most likely to succumb to climate change denial propaganda: Tea Party supporters. These are people who vote Republican, and who want to restore the country to some fantasy 1950's world where pretty much everyone was white and America was all-powerful - "exceptional" is the common term. This America invented large scale fossil fuel burning, to feed the country's fetish for suburban living and automobile transportation. The Tea Party is opposed to anything that jeopardizes this fantasy of the "good life" that is presumed to be an American entitlement, and consequently Tea Partiers distrust anyone who presents facts that are counter to their world view. High on their list of people to distrust: scientists.
When you spend your waking minutes watching Fox News or listening to Rush Limbaugh or his ilk on talk radio, you will quickly come to the conclusion that scientists who warn about climate change are lying. The propaganda tells you that these scientists all have a hidden agenda, which is to destroy the American way of living by imposing government controls on the economy. This will kill jobs and turn America into a liberal-socialist-communist cesspool where bureaucrats will hold sway over the average citizen, who will be struggling to avoid poverty. And - oh yes - liberals will take away everyone's guns as part of the master plan to turn this country into a Soviet dictatorship.
The problem is that there are 80 million Americans who identify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party. They believe these things because the propaganda is self-reinforcing, through social media like Facebook. Probably more important is the fact that the propaganda fosters hatred for the enemies of America: liberals, Democrats, feminists, intellectuals, scientists, the media, and the Hollywood elite who control movies and television. Hatred of the enemy is the glue that binds conservative think tanks, Tea Party members, and Republican party officials together as a potent political bloc that prevents the U.S. from having any consensus regarding the imperative of finding alternatives to fossil fuels. This is the political force which elects Republican climate change deniers to Congress, quite a number of whom are now running for their party's nomination for president of the United States.
How the Republican Party became the breeding ground for the politics of obstruction is no longer a matter of historical interest; it is a matter of global importance. Nothing will be done in the U.S. about climate change until we all understand some basic facts: the Republican Party is no longer interested in governance and is no longer capable of good governance. This situation is irremediable. Nothing can be done to change the Republican Party into what it once was: a political organization that set its principles and organized its activities based on a realistic, factual, and you can even add, scientifically-based view of the world. Once these basic facts are appreciated, the inescapable conclusion is that the Republican Party needs to be destroyed. But to destroy the Republican Party, we have to understand how it got this way, and how it operates in the present.
The Party of Delusion
Reagan was an amiable, friendly politician who was easy to trust, but his internal fantasy world wasn't restricted to just his speeches. His administration's policies were riddled with reality disconnects, starting with his reliance on supply-side economics and its magical claims that tax cuts drove economic growth. Similarly, he had the government waste billions of dollars on a Stars Wars initiative that promised a ballistic missile "iron shield" over the U.S., capable of destroying any enemy nuclear missiles in flight. The science behind this project was bogus, and the painfully inaccurate results proved it.
Reagan's real damage to reality-based politics was the mantra he left behind as his legacy: government is the problem, not the solution. He used this as his trademark campaign tagline. The flip side of this dogma was that the private market must therefore be the only solution to society's problems, other than perhaps defense. Reagan set the Republican Party on a path that involved worshiping the "markets" and any market-based policy. This led, unsurprisingly, to the development of "the pledge," an oath that Republican political activist Grover Norquist devised to bind Republican politicians to a promise never to raise taxes of any kind, ever. And why should they? Norquist touted the same phony economics that Reagan had adopted, which stated that tax cuts fostered growth, so naturally tax increases must stifle growth. It was Norquist's stated goal to drive federal government revenues so low, that whatever was left of the government "could be drowned in a bathtub."
Hatred for the federal government, therefore, goes a long way back in Republican Party history. It is not just something that the Tea Party invented; the foundation for such hatred started with Ronald Reagan, who is still today idolized - at least some hagiographic image of him is idolized - by all Republicans today. Reagan also set the party on the road to incompetence in governance, which was evident in the 1990's when House Republicans under Newt Gingrich shut down the government on the belief that no serious consequence would result.
Incompetence then became the hallmark of the most recent Republican administration. The minute George Bush and Dick Cheney took office, they swept through the bureaucracy of the federal government, forcing out thousands of experienced officials who were perceived to have Democratic leanings. The consequence of losing so much talent was seen when Hurricane Katrina struck; FEMA had no officials on staff who had practical experience with a natural emergency. The same situation developed at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was put under the leadership of Christopher Cox, a California House member with no experience in the financial markets. But he didn't need any, because his mandate was to fire as many regulators on his staff as possible, which he did, because - of course - Republicans don't believe in government or government regulation. The market can solve all problems, except that it couldn't when in 2008 the financial markets blew up as a result of the housing bubble collapse. The federal government was completely blindsided when this occurred - "no one could see this coming," was the excuse the Bush administration used.
Nothing, of course, speaks of incompetence more than the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which has become the nation's greatest foreign policy blunder and an act of hubris, and outright fantasy on the part of the Bush administration, that is playing out even today with dangerous consequences for the world.
Could any of this damage done to the Republican Party be corrected? The answer is no, but don't take my word for it, listen to what the Tea Party Republicans are saying. They don't trust a single elected Republican official in the current campaign for president in 2016. They have rejected - at least so far - Congressional figures such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, John Kasich, and Lindsey Graham. They don't trust Republican governors such as Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, and especially, Jeb Bush, who was supposed to be the establishment candidate with the most money, whose campaign commercials were to drown everybody out of the race.
Instead, Tea Partiers, and Evangelicals as well, are putting their trust in Donald Trump, the non-politician who ridicules politicians, and who promises a non-political solution to the nation's problems. Trump is going to use his business acumen as a negotiator, and his connection to other powerful people, to simply order that things be done, and the world will be made right.
Donald Trump is the culmination of Ronald Reagan's dream. Trump doesn't really believe in government or good governance; he will govern by dictate, by fiat, by personal orders. Things will happen so fast "your head will spin." Illegal immigrants will be banished in the wink of an eye. Russia and China will bow down to America's dictates, because Trump will make our military more incredibly powerful than it already is.
On climate change, Trump tweeted in January: "This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW [Global Warming] scientists are stuck in ice."
Trump's blend of corporate practices with government power is fascism come to America, dressed up also as a religious crusade so that America can fulfill its destiny as God's chosen nation. Trump's political philosophies are 90% fantasy, 95% paranoia, and 100% racist demagoguery.
Republican elites are wondering how someone like Donald Trump could dominate so thoroughly the primary nominating process. Some of them might understand that Trump is the consequence of the Republican Party's Southern Strategy, which bought Democratic votes in the South with appeals to white supremacy. What they don't understand is that Trump's roots lie much deeper into the Party's history, and tie directly to the legacy of the sainted Ronald Reagan. If Trump falters in the polls, which is possible, some other non-establishment candidate may take his place, but even if an establishment figure like Jeb Bush were to win the nomination, the damage is already beyond repair.
Jeb Bush, after all, is perfect evidence of how the Republican Party has become disconnected from reality. Bush's choice for foreign policy adviser, other than his brother George W., is Paul Wolfowitz, one of several disgraced architects of the Iraq invasion. Either Jeb Bush really believes that Wolfowitz is a foreign policy savant worthy of respect (which means Bush is fully capable of ignoring the man's gross failures while in office), or Wolfowitz is one of the few people left out there in Republican-land who has any foreign policy experience at all (which tells us, again, that the Republicans are not capable of good governance).
And if any of the other candidates win the nomination, to a person, they have all promised to defund Planned Parenthood. Carly Fiorina was the most forceful in this matter in the recent debate; she described her disgust at the video tapes she saw with a breathing baby cut apart alive so that Planned Parenthood could sell the body parts. The initial problem is, this scene was never in the video tapes that anyone else saw, so Fiorina was fantasizing or making things up. The real problem is that every single Republican candidate for president has been making political points about Planned Parenthood, over video tapes that were manifestly doctored to completely misrepresent reality.
Where have we seen this before? Oh yes - when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and CIA Director George Tenet put 100% of their trust in doctored, phony "evidence" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, ready at his disposal. At least 100,000 Iraqis died because of these lies, and because of the simplistic credulity of powerful officials in the Bush administration who sold these lies to the public. America lost 4,000 men and women, and tens of thousands more will need a lifetime of medical care that America is ill-prepared to fund. The current devolution of the Middle East into a cauldron of disintegrating nation states and vicious radical Islamic paramilitary forces is a direct result of doctored, phony evidence that plunged that region into war.
What the entire Republican field of candidates for president is displaying is their propensity to be fooled, like George W. Bush was, by phony evidence, of the sort that evidence-manipulators such as the governments of China and Russia, are quite capable of feeding into U.S. intelligence channels.
You see, it really, truly matters whether your government officials operate in a world of sanity and whether they use facts and reason to determine public policy. People die - a lot of people die - when government is steeped in fantasy-thinking, exaggeration, lying, paranoia, and the inevitable demagoguery which results.
Today, the need for sound, rational government has never been higher. To see why, look at the two charts attached to this article. The first, at the head of the article, shows the rate of increase in species extinction plotted against the increase in human population. The facts are quite clear. Species of all types are stressed due to habitat degradation caused by human expropriation of land for suburban expansion, roads, shopping malls, etc. Additional stress is now becoming evident from climate change, both because of shifts in seasonality due to shorter winters, and because of increases in average temperatures. A further contributor to species extinction is the growing acidification of the oceans, which combined with overfishing, have caused drastic drops in the populations of many oceanic species.
Some sort of mass extinction of species is underway. Is it a Mass Extinction, in capital letters - which would mean the sixth such event in earth's history? This is the trajectory the planet is now on, and as the possibilities increase for a Mass Extinction, geologists are increasingly using the term Anthropocene to define a new epoch in the world's history. We are, in other words, leaving, or we have left the Holocene epoch, which began about 12,000 years ago, and we have entered a new epoch in which man changes the climate of the earth. Hence the term, Anthropocene, or man-made epoch.
A similar question can be asked of the second chart above, which plots the rise of global temperatures from the late 19th century. Several independent scientific laboratory measures of this phenomenon are presented, just for those who like to debunk science and claim that scientists do not agree on climate change. They do agree, overwhelmingly so. The evidence is mounting daily, and it is constantly reinforced with headlines like we saw this week: "Last month was the warmest August on record."
Here is the question to ask about that chart. What if these increases in global temperature continue forever? Or, more particularly, what is to stop these increases in temperature? The planet would become uninhabitable at some point. The Mass Extinction just referenced would certainly take place, and would include mankind. Increasingly, climate change deniers are no longer denying that global temperatures are increasing. Now they are saying that climate changes all the time, so these increases are natural. Or, if they are Republican politicians, they weasel out of these questions by claiming they are not scientists and therefore not competent to talk about these subjects.
Except, for twenty or thirty years, Republicans have been quick to talk about these subjects by denying their reality, or hauling up climate change scientists in front of Congressional committees so they can be ridiculed, or presenting phony alternative studies, funded by Exxon-Mobil or Republican think tanks, that will muddy the waters and make a public consensus on climate change impossible. All of this was happening at a time when something could have been done that would have altered the rate of increase in global temperatures.
Instead, we are faced with a situation where we must ask: what if anything can reduce or stop the rate of growth in global temperatures? We are very close to, or might have passed the point, where climatic recycling effects will kick in. For example, the recent extensive forest fires in the U.S., Canada, and Siberia are releasing yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, putting even more upward pressure on global temperatures.
There are still many scientists who say something can be done, at this late date, to forestall a doomsday scenario. For some countries like Germany, which are getting closer to no reliance on fossil fuels for their energy needs, the adjustment might be painful but acceptable. For other countries like China or the U.S., the two biggest contributors to CO2 emissions, the action required would be the equivalent of a self-imposed economic depression. For many less developed countries, there is no money to cover the costs of a required transition away from fossil fuels, so global help would be necessary.
The world's focus is, quite rightly, on China and the U.S., which must provide leadership through self-sacrifice if climate change is going to be halted. China is showing some signs that they must change their economic model, if only to reduce over-dependence on coal. In the U.S., President Obama has called for major policy changes, including a tax on carbon emissions, but his policy is only half-hearted (he approved oil extraction licenses in the Arctic Ocean), and on his carbon emission tax proposal, he has been thwarted every step of the way by the Republicans in Congress.
Which brings us back to the conclusion we reached earlier in this article: nothing will be done about climate change in the U.S. as long as the Republican Party is in power in any capacity, at any level of government. Therefore, the Republican Party must be destroyed. How do we do this?
Power Comes Through the Ballot Box
The quickest way to destroy a political organization is to starve it of its lifeblood: money. But in the U.S., especially after the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, it is impossible to weed out the massive amounts of money being funneled to Republicans by donors who stand to lose financially if climate change initiatives are approved.
Fortunately in the United States, political power still derives from the ballot box. Notwithstanding the evidence that the Republican Party has manipulated voting machines, and is certainly engaged in widespread efforts of voter suppression, there is still the possibility to destroy the Republican Party if it is deprived of votes. Consequently, if as an American you wish to see the United States make any progress on dealing with climate change, and if you agree that the Republican Party must be destroyed for this to happen, the obvious solution is to never, ever again, vote for a Republican Party candidate for political office, at any level.
This does not mean you should simply stop voting or boycott the polling booth. It is important not to vote Republican, but also to vote yes for the leading opposition candidate to the Republican. so as not to diffuse the non-Republican votes and allow the Republican to win on a plurality of the vote. Most often the leading opposition to the Republican is a Democrat, but if as a matter of conscience you cannot vote for the Democrat, you usually have alternatives like the Libertarian candidate or the Green Party candidate, and you always have the option of writing in someone you prefer. What it does mean is never voting for any Republican Party candidate, and voting instead for an individual of your choosing who is not into climate change denial and promises instead to do something to enact workable measures that would forestall or reverse climate change.
This will not immediately destroy the Republican Party. There are still tens of millions of Americans who will vote Republican out of tribal identity and hatred for the Democrats. But this campaign to destroy the Republican Party is aimed at Democrats and Independents, who are, according to surveys, overwhelmingly concerned about climate change and want something done about it. If enough Democrats and Independents are convinced never again to vote Republican, they will outnumber all Republican voters.
Where your protest non-vote will also matter is at the local level, which is the breeding ground for future candidates in any political party. If the Republican Party loses time and again at the municipal level for mayors and aldermen, and at the state level for state senators and representatives, its long term existence is in jeopardy. Moreover, powerful business interests, like the Koch brothers corporation, have found that it takes less money to bribe state legislators, and that the states can be used as tools to thwart any federal decisions that work against Koch interests. There is, therefore, an even more pressing argument for denying Republicans your vote in state or local elections.
If the Republican Party is destroyed, will something worse than the Republican Party take its place? It's possible, but then too, it is even more likely that the voters will know that the new version of the Republican Party, even if it is renamed, is even more delusional and obstructive than the original. Besides, under the current situation, nothing at all is being done politically regarding climate change. If something worse arises on the political right, with the same or more power than today's Republican Party, nothing will continue to be done about climate change.
Ultimately, the Republican Party propaganda arms must be shut down as well, if there is any hope of reaching the die-hard Republicans who will not listen to arguments about the reality behind climate change. For the moment, however, as with big money polluting Washington politics, nothing can be done to actively dismantle the Republican propaganda apparatus. But the baleful effects of this propaganda can be circumvented if enough people stop giving electoral support to the Republican Party.
So remember, the next time you are in a polling booth, if you see the designation (R) next to a candidate's name, it stands for this:
The Republican Party: A clear and present danger to the survival of all living things on planet earth.
Update 9/30/15: The Republican Party is the only conservative political party in any of the major democracies to deny that climate change is influenced by man, according to a recent study done by the Swedish political scientist, Sondre Batstrand. See this article in New York Magazine.