When someone’s paycheck depends on not understanding a problem…

…don’t be surprised when they don’t understand it:

On Monday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) reiterated that he doesn’t think climate change is worth fighting, or that human beings are to blame.

Ryan is running for re-election in his Wisconsin district against Democratic challenger Rob Zerman. According to a report by the Associated Press, the question of humanity’s responsibility for climate change came up during a debate on Monday between the two. “I don’t know the answer to that question,” Ryan said, when the moderator pressed each candidate on the topic. “I don’t think science does, either.”

Ryan also asserted that “we’ve had climate change forever,” and that the benefits of policies to cut carbon emissions “do not outweigh the costs.”

Paul Ryan may not be a scientist, but as an elected U.S. Representative he ought to at least know what scientists say about this stuff. He doesn’t, but then I guess he’d be jeopardizing his paycheck if he did.

"Hey girl, that's not the planet heating up, that's just me feeling the burn."
“Hey girl, that’s not the planet heating up, that’s just me feeling the burn.”

Also, while we’re talking about the cost-benefit analysis, how interesting that Ryan regurgitated that talking point on the same day that his beloved Pentagon, the only domestic program he wouldn’t gut in his ridiculous budgets, issued a report that came to exactly the opposite conclusion:

Drastic weather, rising seas and changing storm patterns could become “threat multipliers” for the United States, vastly complicating security challenges faced by American forces, the Pentagon said in a new report on the impact of climate change released Monday.

The report, described as a “climate change adaptation roadmap,” included a foreword from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in which he urged the nation’s military’s planners to grapple now with the implications of a warming planet, even as scientists are “converging toward consensus on future climate projections.”

“Politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning,” Hagel said. “Our armed forces must prepare for a future with a wide spectrum of possible threats, weighing risks and probabilities to ensure that we will continue to keep our country secure.”

Climate change brings with it food and economic insecurity, natural disasters, the need to maintain a surface presence in the now open-water Arctic, and all while threatening naval bases in areas that are vulnerable to rising seas. But, you know, the benefits just aren’t worth the costs.

One thought on “When someone’s paycheck depends on not understanding a problem…

  1. As it happens, back in the eighties I did a bit of work of climate modeling – specifically, the thermohaline circulation heat engine in the North Atlantic. When I first heard about Global Warming I was all “nope, that’s an awfully big effect for such a small cause” but after a little time to get my head around the idea and to look at the data I had to agree that the actual experts knew what they were talking about. I have come to the conclusion that it is a terrible shame that so few of our alleged leaders are in fact experts in anything – so they don’t recognize a fellow expert when they meet one, nor do they seem to appreciate that experts bring anything of value to the discussion.

    It’s like the Ebola situation. All day long I have been reading ignorant blowhards and their uneducated opinions about what we need to do. Listen, people, this stuff can kill you faster than a flat tire. The one that really gets me is that we should be manufacturing gallons of Ebola vaccine and handing it out like gumdrops – no controls, no staged testing, none of that useless science crap. Not only would this kill lots of people in its own right, but we would never know if the vaccine actually works – and I have done enough science to know that most great ideas turn out to be flawed and that most promising results never pan out. That is why we go to such ridiculous lengths to check our work and make sure the ideas are reliable.

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