“Green” Billionaire Turning Citizens United Decision Against Republicans on Climate Change
In looking at the scientific consensus and actual debate surrounding climate change, it might seem that there is nothing left to debate, at least where the policy solutions are concerned. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We are pumping so much into the air that we are seeing levels of CO2 unlike anything in the past 400,000 years. There may be some questions about how exactly this will affect us, but the evidence for catastrophic change is considerable enough that humanity can’t risk it being wrong.
So, why do political pundits on television and even Republican representatives in government scoff at climate change? Simply put, the partisan machine is big business for both the media and political fundraisers. They draw their strength from the passion of the people who buy into their anti-scientific arguments, parroting the message, because the come couched in pleas to protect our “liberty.”
In 2010 and 2012 energy companies and mind-bogglingly wealthy conservatives – such as the much-maligned Koch Brothers – invested heavily in the candidates who outright denied climate change was happening. For the conservative media it’s an even better deal, because there is already an audience waiting to lap up their anti-science nonsense and the liberal media often rebroadcasts their stories (e.g. free promotion) if only to refute them.
Also in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that money in the form of political donation is a type of corporate speech protected by the First Amendment. For many people concerned with moneyed interests controlling electoral choices (and, by extension, the policies of those candidates they fund) this was terrible news. At the time, it was seen as a huge win for conservatives and Republicans.
However, with public support behind addressing climate change growing – perhaps bolstered by drastic weather events that range in severity and temperature that many attribute to climate change – the Citizens United decision may help turn the tide.
Tom Steyer, described by CNN as “a hedge fund tycoon,” is backing an environmental group called NextGen Climate which seeks to be a “counterbalance to the wealthy oil and gas industry.” The strategy will be to target at-risk Republicans, such as Teri Lynn Land in the race in Michigan for the retiring Carl Levin’s Senate seat or Pennsylvania’s Governor’s race where incumbent Tom Corbett is (to say the least) vulnerable. The group will support only those candidates that they see as “pro-climate action” and not “anti-science.”
If this campaign is successful – and because they plan to focus on “hyper-local” issues, they very well might be – it could mean the end of “anti-science” being good politics. However, the economic argument made by Republicans against climate action is an entirely other matter.
Image via Wikicommons