…by Meg White
The place Meg puts the stuff she wrote
Shimkus’ Bupkis on Global Warming Begs the Question: What is Religion’s Role in the Climate Change Debate?

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

You may have already heard about the religious baloney that came out of the mouth of Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) at a House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing last week from Progress Illinois or elsewhere. But did you watch the video? I recommend you do so, concentrating on the reactions of the people seated behind the blustering congressman.

The best part is when Shimkus insists this:

The earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. A man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood. And I appreciate having panelists here who are men of faith and we can get into the theological discourse of that position. But I do believe that God’s word is infallible, unchanging, perfect. Two other issues Mr. Chairman. Today, we have about 388 parts per million in the atmosphere, I think in the age of the dinosaurs, where we had the most flora and fauna, we were probably at 4,000 parts per million. There is a theological debate that this is a carbon-starved planet, not too much carbon.

One might wonder why the subcommittee is asking “men of faith” to testify at a hearing titled, “Preparing for Climate Change: Adaptation Policies and Programs,” but I’ll have more on that later.

First, did you see that poor woman, rolling her eyes at Shimkus’ Sunday School lecture? Well, he went for it again in the questioning period, and though our friend is hidden by a prop, she does make a one-second appearance at the very end of the clip, trying to hold back a guffaw. Check it out:

Shimkus reasons:

It’s plant food … So if we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere? … So all our good intentions could be for vain. In fact, we could be doing just the opposite of what the people who want to save the world are saying.

Putting aside his mind-numbing argument just for a second, did I hear that last sentence right? I think Shimkus just put himself in a category outside of those who want to save the world. Oh yeah, that’s who I want representing my state. A guy who doesn’t want to save the world.

And that guy Shimkus is questioning?  Lord Christopher Monckton’s climate change expertise has been described as “degree in classics and a diploma in journalism and… no further qualifications.” Oh, and the Princeton scientist that Monckton is citing? Well, he’s the chair of the board of directors of a front group funded by Exxon Mobil. Yup, that’s who I want feeding information to our lawmakers. One guy who’s totally unqualified and another who’s funded by Big Oil.

Never mind that the National Wildlife Foundation debunks their argument in three tiny paragraphs:

Do Shimkus and Monckton think plants only came along after humans learned how to start burning fossil fuels? In reality, it’s quite the opposite — since we started getting really good at burning carbon-based fossil fuels, forests have started getting really good at catching fire.

And to back up all this nonsense about global warming pollution being great for plants, they cite the Cambrian period? A time when there were no land plants? That’s your shining example? Come on. Lord Monckton may be the darling of the denier crowd, but he wouldn’t stand a chance on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”

One other note about the Cambrian — sea levels were 30 to 90 meters higher than they are today. Not exactly a comforting reference at a hearing about the possible impacts of climate change.

OK, let’s go back to Shimkus for a minute. Can I ask what a man who refuses to believe in global climate change is doing on the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment? I guess there’s no “Dogma and Religious Misinformation Subcommittee,” and they had to put him somewhere.

Additionally, why is a guy who thinks that monarchy is the best form of government even serving in the U.S. Congress at all? What would have become of him if he had told the news media he favored benevolent dictatorships? Or — God forbid — socialism?

The sad thing is, religious nut jobs like Shimkus seem to be the norm in Congress. The 111th Congress is significantly more religious than the U.S. population as a whole. Now, there’s nothing wrong with using organized religion as a moral compass, but some of these lawmakers are using their religiosity as a yardstick in scientific determinations.

Republicans in particular seem more than willing to allow religion to speak for their scientific views. While a recent survey shows that more than 90 percent of Americans want to see action to confront global warming, only 26 percent of Republican lawmakers surveyed by The National Journal in 2008 believe that climate change is caused by pollution.

The biggest problem with extremely religious lawmakers like Shimkus who think we have nothing to fear but God Himself is that they have their collective hands on (or at least near) the proverbial self-destruct button. If they truly believe that God will end the earth when He sees fit and that there’s nothing we can do to change that, why bother with conservation? Heck, it stands to reason that if they can hasten the destruction of the planet, that just means they get to meet their maker sooner!

So let’s get back to the question of why Congress is asking religious spokespeople to comment on climate change in the first place. At the very least, Subcommittee Chair Edward Markey (D-MA) must be under the impression that organized religion has a place in the global warming debate.

Well, it turns out that some people don’t use organized religion to supplement the pseudoscience of Exxon Mobil. At this very same hearing, Bishop Callon Holloway of the Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of American told lawmakers the following in his opening statement:

We do not view the riches of our earth simply as material to be exploited, but rather as treasure we are called to protect, preserve and utilize in sustainable ways for the well-being of God’s people and God’s creation. The Christian community also approaches the issue of global climate change through the lens of justice. Just as Christ worked for justice on behalf of the marginalized and impoverished, we are also called to serve those most in need and add our voices to the chorus of those living in extreme poverty who had the least to do with causing global climate change but will be most severely affected by the subsequent changes.

While I don’t know that asking a group of theologians what we should do about global warming is the best use of Congress’ time, I will say it’s nice to know that at least one of the “men of faith” Shimkus was so happy to hear from isn’t willing to use the word of God against Mother Nature.

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS

Originally published at BuzzFlash.com.

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