Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IPCC attack: US house Republicans win day, risk epoch

US Republicans may have won the day in the recent house vote to cut all their funds to the UN IPCC, the planet's leading climate science synthesis body, but they risk losing the Holocene. For everybody.

America is to cut off all funding to the United Nations climate science panel under sweeping Republican budget cuts that seek to gut spending on environmental protection.

The funding ban to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – stripping $2.3m (£1.31m) from an international organisation that relies heavily on volunteer scientists – was among some $61bn (£38bn) in cuts voted through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Saturday.

Driven by the mad-hatter Tea Party astroturf outfit who, as ignorant of their own history as of science, seemingly don't see the irony of taxing future generations without representation by burdening them with an increasingly dysfunctional global climate, let alone environment:

If enacted, the cuts package would reduce spending on environmental protection by nearly one-third, or about $3bn (£1.85bn), advancing a key objective of the conservative Tea Party of dismantling government regulation.

The cuts also exhibit the strong hostility to climate science among the Tea Party activists with funding bans on the IPCC and a newly created climate information service under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – a reorganisation which was to be funded out of existing budgets.

Instead of throwing crates of British East India tea overboard, the Tea Party of today plots to arrest knowledge, understanding and accumulating know-how and throw climate predictability overboard. All without a native American Indian costume in sight.

I'm not one to tell folks how to be, but that's not a good narrative for a proud nation to build on, going forward. What kind of example does it set to other nations in their funding decisions? What if all give up?

In proposing the ban on IPCC funding, Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Missouri Republican, called the UN panel "nefarious".

"The IPCC is an entity that is fraught with waste and fraud, and engaged in dubious science, which is the last thing hard-working American taxpayers should be paying for," Luetkemeyer said in a statement.

He claimed the US funds to the IPCC were $13m, but Henry Waxman, the California Democrat, told Congress the figure was $2.3m. He argued that the contribution helped the US get access to global scientific body of work – that would not exist without American support.

This has to be stopped in the US senate. I'd like to think that, in a world where we see Wikileaks fanning freedom in Tunisia, Twitter toppling tyrants in Egypt, and Facebook defriending dictators in Libya, that we, the world, can find a way to get our say in decisions affecting our global climate, wherever they are held. Overseas friends and family of American citizens should encourage them to tell the flat-earthlings among their numbers not to impose their ignorance on the rest of us.

And to make their voices heard by their representatives. Can the US people marshal and overthrow the tyranny of big fossil-fueled ignorance? I am encouraged to think so when I look at the success of Wikileaks in promoting transparency, and Sea-Shepherd, in defeating the Japanese government-subsidised whaling industry. What Julian Assange and Capt. Watson have in common is that they are hard-core; all Davids need a bit of that to triumph over Goliath. Their results speak for themselves. It's hard not think that more of that is what is needed.


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