North Carolina Conservatives Saw Their Homes Washed Away, Now They're Almost Climate Change Believers!
I'll say one good thing about conservatives -- literally one good thing: They are certainly willing to take a serious issue to heart as long as it is specifically their own heart at risk. Lately, you can't go a few months without a hurricane slapping you in the face, and a lot of the folks getting slapped upside the head are formerly climate-change-denying supporters of Donald Trump.
The Washington Post had a piece today about residents of North Carolina, who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and possibly reconsidering their obstinance in the face of decades of compelling science.
"I always thought climate change was a bunch of nonsense, but now I really do think it is happening," said [Margie] White, a 65-year-old Trump supporter, as she and her young grandson watched workers haul away downed trees and other debris lining the streets of her posh seaside neighborhood last week.
Yes, White, who holds several doctorates in head-up-her-ass-ology, thought climate change was "nonsense." Krypton was just settling in its orbit. Stop shooting off babies in rockets and chill out. But she's recanting like Galileo because her "posh" seaside neighborhood now resembles one of those "hippety-hop" clubs after last call. Why did Al Gore bother making An Inconvenient Truth when he could've just knocked over some power lines in nice neighborhoods?
White has witnessed storms grow more frequent, intense, and property-devaluing in the 26 years she and her husband have lived in Wilmington, which is about four hours southeast of my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, because geography is weird. The Whites were likely torn between accepting the evidence of their own eyes or listening to the dismissive statements of anti-science Republicans who are leased to own by the fossil fuel industries.
James Inhofe once argued climate change was a fraud because snowballs exist. He is still a sitting senator. Inhofe is author of the absurd tome "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future." Even the title is a lie because the "greatest hoax" is obviously P.T. Barnum's Fiji mermaid. Climate change isn't even first runner up because it's an actual thing. Inhofe isn't some volunteer crank. He receives a great deal of cash from oil and gas, probably stuffed into non-recyclable plastic bags.
Con artists such as Rush Limbaugh also told people like the Whites that climate change and hurricane forecasts were just things liberals came up with to scare them. This plays on conservatives' innate distrust of "academics" or people who claim to know better than normal Americans just because they are experts in their fields.
The climate-change-denier-in-chief constantly dismisses climate change studies from groups smarter than he is, which could easily mean an average fifth grade science class but most recently it was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Ninety-one leading scientists from 40 countries had examined more than 6,000 scientific studies, only occasionally taking Netflix breaks, and warned in a report last week of "environmental catastrophe" as early as 2040. But there's hope! We could prevent the worst effects if only we started making major changes. What they don't tell you about Superman's origin is that his father, Jor-El, gave his big "Krypton is doomed" speech to someone like Donald Trump.
When Trump saw the "environmental catastrophe" (exclamation point!) report, his immediate response was to ask "Who drew it?" because he's a moron and we're all going to die.
"Because I can give you reports that are fabulous, and I can give you reports that aren't so good," he added.
Yeah, you can give BS reports because your entire professional career has involved peddling BS and conning people. This is science, asshole. And who knows science better than Donald Trump? Well, everyone. We already said that. But he doesn't agree.
My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn't talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.
People might've been dumb enough vote for Trump once -- and let's face, they'll do it again in 2020 -- but maybe they aren't permanently as dumb as Trump. Manly North Carolina fishermen are noticing prized catch migrating north because of warming sea temperatures. Salt water intrusion is playing havoc with the local ecosystem. Their money is getting funny. Trump talks about the waste of "trillions of dollars" and loss of "millions of jobs" if we address climate change, but no one's getting rich ignoring it.
Local North Carolina politicians have started using the term "recurrent flooding" to discuss climate change, and the euphemistic tactics have paid off slightly. Elon University conducted a study post Hurricane Florence that 37 percent of Republicans believed global warming was "very likely" to negatively affect coastal communities in the next 50 years. That's a vast improvement from the 17 percent who thought this way just last year. Just a few more $22 billion hurricanes and Republicans might stop electing climate change deniers. Of course, by that point, the only folks living in the state will be Aquaman and his side chick. Let's try to get smarter quicker.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.