It is very frustrating and at times downright appalling to be an average citizen of reasonable intelligence and to see the direction in which the new leaders of our House of Representatives are taking that legislative branch of government. Elections do have consequences and, in this case, the consequences for the environment and for our descendants will be dire indeed. But, if it is frustrating for the average citizen, imagine how galling and downright apoplectic-making it must be for the decent congressman or congresswoman who is trying to do his or her job and make the country and the world a better place to live for us all. Consider Henry Waxman, D-California.
When the Democrats held a majority in the House, Waxman was the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He worked on policies in behalf of health, telecommunications, energy and environmental legislation, including the sweeping climate change and energy bill that passed the House but stalled in the Senate and eventually died there. Now, Waxman is the ranking Democrat on that committee which is chaired by Fred Upton, R-Michigan. Upton is sponsoring a bill to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that heat-trapping gases endanger public health and the environment. He is one of many of the human-caused climate change deniers in the House and Senate. He and his pal Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma apparently believe if they can just repeal that nasty EPA finding, that will be the end of it.
Representative Waxman has a different view of the matter. He said, "The new Republican majority in the House has a lot of power to write our nation's laws, but they do not have the power to rewrite the laws of nature. Republicans in Congress can't cure cancer by passing a bill that declares smoking safe. And they can't stop climate change by declaring it a hoax."
He went on to say that if the Congress does not recognize the seriousness of the threat of climate change and take appropriate action that "history will not judge us kindly." My fear, however, is that history will not judge us at all, because there will be no human civilization left to remark on our failures.
One more tiny vignette really tells us all we need to know about the petty childishness of this Congress and its leaders and their anti-scientific attitudes. When Nancy Pelosi was Speaker, she did away with the use of styrofoam cups in the cafeteria because they are not environmentally safe. They are not biodegradable. One of John Boehner's first acts was to rescind that policy and reinstate styrofoam cups. It turns out that the owner of the company that makes the cups is a former executive in the Koch brothers' company. That's right - the Koch brothers who contribute millions of dollars to Republican and tea party campaigns and causes. Of course, that was just a coincidence, they say.
And if you believe that, I have this lovely bridge I'd like to sell you.