Houston, We Have a Problem

Some of you lucky people can go about your everyday lives paying only occasional attention to the sideshow that is current American government. Some of us aren’t so lucky–by virtue of our jobs, we have to follow the various shenanigans and embarrassments that sometimes seem to dominate our efforts at self-government. If you fall into this latter category, as I do, it’s hard not to despair of the human condition–hard not to entertain the possibility that our technological talent will not be sufficient to overcome our fear of change and stubborn resistance to unwelcome facts.

These aren’t new themes for this blog, as regular readers know. What brought them to mind again was a brief item from Talking Points Memo identifying what have emerged as the top three priorities of Obama’s second term: guns, immigration, and climate change.

What caught my eye was this observation about climate change.  “The question is what Obama can do on the issue given that the House’s top ranking Science Committee members are still not sold on evolution, let alone climate change. This isn’t a new problem: Obama couldn’t even get a cap and trade bill to his desk when Democrats had big majorities in both chambers of Congress. Instead he focused on regulations that could bypass Congress — for example, improved fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.”

Think about that. These are people we have elected to Congress, to the most powerful legislative body we have–people who have been assigned to the freaking science committee–who do not believe in evolution. People who dismiss the reality of climate change in the face of overwhelming and mounting evidence. People who are unable to distinguish between science and religion, or to define the scientific method.

It’s one thing to look at a problem and disagree about the best way to solve it. It’s quite another to insist that the problem is imaginary and thus no solution is necessary.

Unfortunately, it isn’t only the reality-impaired who will bear the consequences of perverse and intentional ignorance. We all will.

There are times when I really don’t think the human animal is equipped to survive over the long term.