Republican stalwarts are outdoing one another in their basic scientific ignorance.
California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher recently weaved an intricate theory to explain global warming.
"Global warming is a total fraud and it's being designed because what you've got is you've got liberals who get elected at the local level want state government to do the work and let them make the decisions," Rohrabacher said. "Then, at the state level, they want the federal government to do it. And at the federal government, they want to create global government to control all of our lives."
Who's going to be ultimately in charge? "A government official who, by the way, probably comes from Nigeria because he's a U.N. government official, not a U.S. government official," Rohrabacher revealed (note the race-baiting and xenophobia here).
Rohrabacher did not explain how such a vast plot has been carefully hidden for so long.
"The IPCC is a totally transparent organization," Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told me some years ago. "Thousands of people are part of what some of these people say is a conspiracy? My God! This is a conspiracy on a scale that's absolutely astounding!"
Of course, Rohrabacher's hypothesis is nonsensical on numerous levels. But what is scary is how much so many of his fellow party members are with him on global warming denial.
"Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), chair of the House Science Subcommittee on Environment, doesn't believe that humans are responsible for rising global temperatures," Hyacinth Mascarenhas writes at policymic.com. "Shockingly, more than 55 percent of Congressional Republicans agree with Stewart."
Rohrabacher's "U.N. taking over the world" foolishness is a mainstay of the right when it comes to environmental matters. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas actually made it a centerpiece of his campaign last year.
"One of the white-hot talking points Cruz used to fire up the narrow extremists who now control the Texas GOP is that he will, by God, defend America's golf courses!" Jim Hightower wrote for The Progressive last October. "'Stop Agenda 21,' cried Cruz in an alert posted prominently on his campaign website. Agenda 21 is a twenty-year-old, innocuous nonbinding U.N. resolution (agreed to by then-President George Bush the First). It encourages governments to develop plans for sustainable development of 'open spaces' -- and that's what rubs Ted raw."
Rohrabacher and Cruz have plenty of GOP company in their opposition to environmental initiatives. But if their preferred target is the United Nations, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson detects an Islamist-sounding conspiracy on the part of environmental groups.
"The League of Conservation Voters is not an organization with a balanced approach to a cleaner environment," Ron Johnson states in a recent fundraising letter. "They are an extreme left group on an environmental jihad."
Johnson's use of the phrase "environmental jihad" is not a coincidence, since it is designed to set off alarm bells among a Republican base that is quite Christian and rather hostile to anything that seems redolent of Islam. Not coincidentally, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, a notorious global warming denier, has actually invoked the Bible to justify his stance.
"Well, actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that 'as long as the Earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,'" the Senator said on a radio show last year in reference to his book on climate change. "My point is, God's still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."
It is downright depressing that so many leading members of a major political party are in such deep denial on a fundamental scientific issue of our time.
Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of The Progressive and co-editor of the Progressive Media Project, is the author of "Islam" Means Peace: Understanding the Muslim Principle of Nonviolence Today (Praeger).