Demographics were key to the recent election results, it is said.
Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, 20-somethings, and women all voted resoundingly for Obama, while Romney captured a majority of the declining White vote. But that's not the whole story.
John Weaver, a GOP strategist who worked on the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Jon Huntsman, explains: "We've got to accept science and start calling out these false equivalencies when they occur within our party about things that are just not true, and not tolerate the intolerant."
He was probably referring to the two losing senatorial candidates, Akins and Mourdock, whose novel addition to Christian doctrine - the Immaculate Rape - further alienated female voters, who have been participating at a higher percentage than men in recent elections. Akins and Mourdock might as well have been running on the Taliban ticket.
The dismissal of science in favor of faith-based myths and nostrums has led the GOP to become detached from "the reality-based community," as another Republican critic puts it. An example is Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who sits on the House Science Committee, having stated: "All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell... I don't believe that the Earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That's what the Bible says."
If Mr. Broun must believe that every word of the Bible was dictated straight from the mind of God, and not written, translated and edited by fallible humans over a period of centuries as all Biblical scholars know (with the Gnostic gospels completely purged), that's his privilege. If he insists that Adam and Eve must have ridden around the Garden of Eden on a brontosaurus, that's also his privilege, but he has no business sitting on a science committee. Well, maybe a science committee in a Saudi Arabian madrassa, but not in the United States Congress of the 21st century. We face too many problems that will require all the intelligence that we have been endowed with.
One problem is what should be by now painfully obvious - the reality of climate change, after the devastation of wildfires and droughts this summer, Hurricane Sandy, and a record high 14 weather events in 2011 that caused over $1 billion in damages each. The region with the world's most severe weather has always been North America, and according to Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurance firm, extreme weather disasters on our continent have increased fivefold over the past three decades.
For 2011 and 2012, the total damage now amounts to between $95 and $144 billion. Whether this is exclusively due to man-made emissions can be debated (solar variance is also a probable factor), but there is no doubt that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that causes additional warming, and we have been pumping around 29 gigatons of it into the atmosphere every year.
Yet the Chairman of the House Science Committee, Ralph Hall (R-Texas), has stated, "I don't think we can control what God controls."
The idea that the activities of humans can have no effect on the environment is simply batty. One theory now gaining credence for the Little Ice Age (1550-1850 AD) states that Native Americans before Columbus used fire prodigiously to clear forests for farming, pumping huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.
After smallpox and other European diseases wiped out close to 90% of the native population, this great carbon pump came to a halt, responsible for at least one-quarter of the global cooling that followed - the opposite of what has been occurring since the Industrial Revolution. The Maunder Minimum (a period of low sunspot activity) was also a factor, but it was a combination of these events, plus some volcanic eruptions, that caused the Little Ice Age.
And it is most likely a combination of factors responsible for the epidemic of severe weather disasters in recent years. Certainly, there are forces beyond our control and perhaps our full understanding, but others are within our grasp. To ignore scientific knowledge using the rationalization that it's "God's will" that more people die in natural disasters, or that a woman must bear the child of a rapist because God willed his genes to be propagated in an act of violence, is shameful primitivism.
If the U.S. is to continue as the one "indispensable nation," the leader of the modern world, our politicians cannot wallow in this kind of embarrassing medieval ignorance. Leave that act to the Muslim fundamentalists in Iran and Afghanistan.
Travis Kelly is a web/graphic designer, writer and cartoonist in Grand Junction. See his work or contact him at www.traviskelly.com.