I could probably spend day and night pointing out stuff that U.S. Sen. James Inhofe says that is just this side of a lie, but that’d be neither productive nor very interesting and I absolutely promise I won’t.
But have a look at this news release he issued through the Senate’s committee on environment and public works after Al Gore testified on climate change, on how Gore wouldn’t take an Inhofe-written pledge to reduce his energy use. Particularly look at the wording of the pledge:
As a believer:
· that human-caused global warming is a moral, ethical, and spiritual issue affecting our survival;
· that home energy use is a key component of overall energy use;
· that reducing my fossil fuel-based home energy usage will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions; and
· that leaders on moral issues should lead by example;
I pledge to consume no more energy for use in my residence than the average American household by March 21, 2008.
Note that the introductory facts talk about “fossil fuel-based home energy,” but the fossil fuels are gone by the time the actual oath comes up. As Global Warming Watch points out, it’s not the energy use that’s the problem where climate change is concerned, it’s how the energy is generated. You want to stick up a forest of windmills in your backyard and use them to power 1,000-watt floodlights day and night? Go nuts.
But what really attracted my attention were the first three words, “As a believer…” and the sudden appearance of the word “spiritual” in the first clause. “Believer,” to a Southern Republican who quotes the Bible regularly in explaining his political thought, means something much more than “one who accepts the truth of a given set of facts.”
The word “spiritual” also carries meaning far beyond the idea of morality as a standard of behaviour involving not hurting other people. If you hold that morality is dictated by God, that’s your business, but even if you don’t, you can still maintain that “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a useful instruction for civilized and prosperous life.
No, what Inhofe was trying to do was advance the notion that caring about how we’re all going to live 50 or 100 years from now is an arcane religion akin to 21st-century druidism, irreconcilably at odds with (in Inhofe’s case) Christianity and only one step removed from spilling the blood of virgins on stone slabs to appease, I don’t know, Maurice Strong or somebody.
It doesn’t bother me that reasonable people can and do disagree about the direction the world is heading on many fronts, including the environmental. It only bothers me somewhat that unreasonable people will be dishonest about their disagreements. What really bothers me is when they’re so bad at it.