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Climate Deniers are More Dangerous Than Trump and More Deadly Than ISIS

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So Rep. Lamar Smith (D-Tx.) finally got his NOAA emails.  What he really should get is a jail sentence for crimes against humanity.  He, and the other climate deniers like him who hold positions of power, are arguably more dangerous than Donald Trump and more deadly than ISIS.

It is true that the presidential campaign of Donald Trump feels frighteningly like the second coming of Adolf Hitler.  It is also true that the violence of ISIS is despicable.  Between them, they garner most of the news coverage, but thankfully also the lion’s share of our collective wrath and disgust.

But as villains they are the stuff of comic books compared to the very real criminals prowling the halls of Congress right now, like Smith and his Senatorial counterpart, James Inhofe (R-Okla.)

Trump, who incites acts of hatred, may soon have blood on his hands.  ISIS already has plenty.  But climate deniers like Inhofe, Smith and the oil companies and think tanks who support them, could ultimately be responsible for global genocide.  That makes them orders of magnitude more evil.

The Paris COP21 conference produced a global agreement on climate change mitigation that some sternly criticize, others celebrate and the rest of us are resigned to accepting as the best that was likely to emerge from such an otherwise factious world.

Smith and Inhofe want none of it.  The Republican-led House and Senate are determined to block anything that smacks of action on global warming.  All too eager to condemn “terrorism,” the GOP and its pathetic presidential stable will happily sign their names to inaction on climate.

Meanwhile, it is disturbing to see the American public shut the door on desperate refugees rather than slam it in the faces of its elected officials who would condemn the entire planet to gradual annihilation.

As the Washington Post noted on the eve of the December 15 clown show….er, Republican debate… the “terrorist attacks in Paris and California refocused voter attention.”  On terrorism.  But somehow the COP21 climate talks, also in Paris, did not refocus U.S. political or media attention back on an issue of far greater import.

So, global extinction?  No worries.  Death of not insignificant but still far smaller numbers of people due to a terrorist attack?  Major.  What color ties Trump prefers? Even more major.

Smith, the chairman of the House Science Committee, says that data show there has been “no warming for 18 years.”  Which is why he wanted to get the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration emails; to prove that it is in fact NOAA scientists who are in denial about the fantasy they insist is global warming.

If Smith believes global warming hit pause 18 years ago,  he is an idiot.  If he doesn’t, but is saying it for political expediency, then he’s a liar.  (Smith also called the Union of Concerned Scientists a “left-wing environmental activist group,” which I sometime wish was true.)  It appears Smith would rather hunt down climate scientists than ISIS and is really enjoying his current witch hunt against NOAA.

Inhofe apparently blames Barbra Streisand for fooling people into believing climate change is real.  (I know, I know.)  In 2009 he told Mother Jones writer, David Corn, that Streisand was, as Corn described it, “the devious force behind a completely phony global campaign to address climate change.”

Inhofe was also the author, in 2012, of the book, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.”  Which probably qualifies as the greatest hoax in the literary world.  Unless you stock it on the fiction shelves.

After the Paris climate agreement was announced, Inhofe characteristically vowed to block any White House actions that would carry out the terms of the accord.  He claimed that only about “a couple hundred” people still think climate change is real.  And this science denier is the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee!  That would have been like putting Bin Laden in charge of the Department of Homeland Security when it was first created in 2002.  More than daft.  Downright dangerous.

I once asked my Representative, Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) how anti-environment guys like Smith and Inhofe ever get chairmanships like that?  “Seniority,” he said rather ruefully.  No actual qualifications needed.  You just have to hang around long enough on Capitol Hill to be given some plumb job in a subject you not only know nothing about but actually despise.  Incredible.  Luckily, the real job world doesn’t operate like that.  Most of the time.

One of Inhofe’s battier contentions (yes, even battier than the Streisand theory) is that God, not CO2 emissions, determines global temperatures.  He told this to Tony Perkins who runs the homophobic Family Research Council which is listed as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Perkins, an evolution denier and professional LGBT hater, is the guy who proclaimed on his radio show that “Climate change alarmists and those who are pushing population control … promote homosexuality.”  Completing the looney circle.

Inhofe’s views on climate aren’t suspect only because they are so wrong.  They also weren’t always his views.  In March 2012 he told Rachel Maddow on her eponymous show that “I was actually on your side of this issue when I was chairing that committee and I first heard about this.  I thought it must be true until I found out what it cost.”

Ah, so the more expensive something is, the more we should doubt its veracity?

Maybe Inhofe made his calculations on the back of a napkin while drunk in a bar (even if the beverage in question was Kool-Aid.)   Otherwise he would surely have concluded that not doing anything about climate change was the most costly choice of all.  In dollars, not just in lives.

But, as MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki  asked Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) after the Paris accord, “can the Republicans basically blow up this deal?”  No, Markey said, “they cannot.”  Citing the Clean Air Act and other standards, Markey explained that “the president is acting under existing legal authority to make promises to the world on behalf of the American people which are enforceable under U.S. law.”

In the end, the hypocrisy of people like Smith and Inhofe knows no bounds.  Because not only will the Republicans not act on climate change, which they don’t care about, they won’t act on terrorism, which they do.

Gun-loving House Republicans are lined up to block passage of the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act that would prevent those on the “no fly list” from legally buying guns.  One of the co-sponsors is Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), who said of his colleagues that “Anything which they feel restricts the use or the ability to retain a gun they’re opposed to.”

Republicans have also, since last April, stalled the confirmation of Adam Szubin as the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes.  There is general agreement that cutting off the funding flow to ISIS is a key strategy in the “war on terror.”  It’s certainly  far more effective, and definitely less cruelly indiscriminate, than the 9,000+ bombs dropped to date on “ISIS targets” in Syria and Iraq.

Szubin’s nomination, like King’s bill, has bi-partisan support.  Therefore, the only logical explanation for this protracted inaction is that there is a coterie of hard line Republicans on the Hill who will block anything they suspect emanates from the Obama White House.  Even when they actually support it!

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Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear. She also serves as director of media and development. 

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