07 30 2016
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The Wake of Vanport

(NNPA) - You may remember the snow storms that hit the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern USA in February 2010. The storms were nearly unprecedented and buried the region, particularly paralyzing cities that were not used to such levels of snow. The aftermath of these storms was nothing short of bizarre. Republican elected officials, in what can only be described as a collective celebration of ignorance, announced that these snow storms proved that global warming was a myth since, after all, we had gotten all of this snow. In fact, they went further, mocking former Vice President Al Gore for suggesting that there is a critical danger of climate change.
The fact that these elected leaders could actually think that what they had to say made any degree of sense, and the fact that they received any amount of media attention, says something unsettling about the United States. Major snowstorms in the northeast neither prove nor disprove global warming. Extreme weather events, however, are characteristic of climate change, and the science is more than clear on that fact.
This brings us to the late spring and early summer. In the same region where snow storms hit in February it has been uncharacteristically hot and dry. During the last week of June and the first week of July there were record setting days in the upper 90s through the low 100s, with no rain. Despite this I have heard nothing from the same Republicans regarding the weather. What does it say, I would ask these esteemed leaders, that we have had unusually warm weather and very little rain? What conclusions are you prepared to draw? And, if you are unprepared to draw any conclusions, then why did you feel so ready to mock legitimate scientists by denying climate change?
What was striking about the response to the February snow storms, and the silence in the face of an unusually warm spring and early summer, has been their unembarrassed approach to ignorance. In fact, what we are seeing from many leaders of the political Right has been a willingness to ignore, if not ridicule, facts as a means of scoring political points with a populace that is increasingly scared and confused about what is happening to this planet.
What is demanded at this moment is a willingness to challenge demagoguery, no matter from who it emerges. The problem in February was not mainly that ignoramuses were prepared to discount real science in order to appease corporate interests and certain constituencies. What was more the problem was that the media paid this any attention and that those of us who knew better did not demand more of the media. Yet now, in the face of unusually warm weather, the same media that provided air time to the Republican demagogues has not been pursuing them to see how their views in February conform to what we saw nearly every day for two weeks when we looked at the thermometer.
I guess that demagoguery sells more papers than logic.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and the co-author of "Solidarity Divided." He can be reached at papaq54@hotmail.com.

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