Boehner, Fellow Republicans, Are Not Climate Scientists, But They Are Denialists

Human beings are amazing. And I don’t discount myself from that statement, but I try really hard to not assume I know something to be true when it is in direct conflict with the experts of a given field. But for Republicans and conservatives, they have no problem “knowing” they are correct about something, even when they admit they are not experts.

Why Republicans Always Say ‘I’m Not a Scientist’ — NYMag — Asked by reporters yesterday if he accepts the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, John Boehner demurred on the curious but increasingly familiar grounds that he is not a scientist. “Listen, I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change,” the House Speaker said.

Okay, so that should be the end of it, right? Speaker John Boehner is not a scientist, and more specifically, he’s not a climate scientist. So that means he’s not an expert in the field of climate science. That means any opinion he has on this topic is simply that, an opinion. And it is an opinion that is not informed by an overwhelming body of evidence or a career’s worth of study and observation. But Boehner is a conservative and a Republican, so of course it doesn’t end there…

Boehner immediately turned the question to the killing of jobs that would result from any proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which he asserts with unwavering certainty. (On this question, Boehner is not held back by the fact that he is also not an economist.)

Even though Boehner is “not a scientist,” he has no problem going along with the anti-science crowd within the Republican Party, which these days, constitutes almost the entire GOP establishment. Oh, and Boehner also has no problem going along with the anti-intellectual crowd within his party, which also has reached near saturation, when he contends jobs will be lost if we tried to do anything about climate change.

And this is the nice convenient package of Republican-led climate denial: You deny it’s happening. You assert you can’t speak of it or do anything about it because you are not a scientist. And then finally, as a means of pandering to the public, particularly in a still weak economy, you say jobs will be lost if we did anything about climate change. It’s a perfect storm of political bullshit, and damn, Republicans are so good at it.

This particular demurral seems to be in vogue for the Grand Old Party. Florida governor Rick Scott (“I’m not a scientist”) and Senator Marco Rubio (“I’m not a scientist. I’m not qualified to make that decision.”) have both held up their lack of scientific training as a reason to withhold judgment on anthropogenic global warming.

It’s a strange form of reasoning. Very few of us are scientists, which is exactly why we tend to defer to scientific judgment. It might make sense to question expert consensus in a field where you are an expert, but if you know very little about it, you probably want to just go along with what the experts think.

When you know you are not an expert in a field, which Boehner clearly states by saying he’s not a scientist, the next thing out of your mouth should be something along the lines of, “So, I’ll defer to the experts on the causes, and what steps we need to take to address the problem.” Instead, the cult of climate denialism eschews science, reason, logic, and common sense, replacing all of the above with dogma fueled by cynicism, and worse, political agenda fueled by greed.

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