“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” James 2:18
The U.S. Senate announced last week that they’ve finally come to faith. After years and years of denying the threat of a warming planet, virtually all of the senators have now admitted what the global Christian church has accepted for years: Climate science is no hoax, and the world is getting dangerously hotter.
In a lopsided vote of 98-to-1, the Senate – all Democrats and almost all Republicans – approved a nonbinding “sense of Congress” stating that climate change is real and not a hoax. Even GOP Sen. James Inhofe (OK) – who literally wrote the book on climate denial (a conspiracy-flogging thing called “The Greatest Hoax”) — surprised everyone by co-sponsoring the bill.
So what’s going on, you wonder? Have American politicians finally cast off the shackles of oil & gas money, and acknowledged the overwhelming evidence for man-made climate change? Does this mean they’re prepared to act on limiting carbon and methane emissions into the planet’s fragile atmosphere?
I wish it were so. But no, almost nothing has changed. In a deft move, the Senate climate-deniers have abandoned their old line – “It’s a hoax! It’s not happening!” – and pivoted to a new mantra – “Okay, the climate’s changing, but it’s not our fault, and we can’t do anything!”
Senator Inhofe summed their new position like this: “Man cannot change climate,” Inhofe said. “The hoax is that there are some people that are so arrogant to think that they are so powerful that they can change climate.”
So I wouldn’t get carried away with delight at the Senate’s newfound belief in the findings of science. When it comes to lawmakers, it’s fair to ask: “Who cares what they believe anyway? Tell me what they’re doing!” And in the wake of this conversion of sorts, the bottom line is unchanged: Whatever we say we believe, we’re not doing anything.
There is one small word of encouragement. There are five GOP senators who joined all the Democrats on a more meaningful statement. Fifty senators in all went on record as affirming climate science both when it tells us that the climate us heating up, and that it’s happening because of human impacts and emissions. Those five Republicans are: Lindsey Graham (SC), Lamar Alexander (TN), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Susan Collins (ME) and Mark Kirk (IL). Of course, 49 other Republicans voted to deny any link whatsoever between human actions and climate change.
But that leaves us with a tiny majority affirming basic science in a field where overwhelming consensus prevails. Sadly, in the Senate, you need 60 votes to do much of anything. Until hearts and minds are changed, that block of 49 deniers will be enough to stop most anything that the Creation might need our country to do.
On the bright side, I suppose, we can now forget about all those Congressional efforts to discredit scientists who measure rising global temperatures. But for the foreseeable future, I’m afraid we’ll be dealing with the “not-our-fault” narrative. Of course, this has also been thoroughly rebutted by the overwhelming majority of scientists. (The National Academy of Sciences has summarized: “It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate.”
What’s next from the Senate? I fear: “Maybe it was our fault, but it’s too late now!” If so, then we lament for the children, for countless species, and for every creature who will inherit the earth we leave them.