While Moms Clean Air Force member, Julianne Moore wins the Oscar for best actress, and there’s a strange fascination with the new movie Fifty Shades of Grey, I have been focusing on a different story. It’s called Fifty Days of Nay. It’s the sad narrative of the first weeks of the new 114th Congress.
It may not be sexy, but it has a lot of the same elements you would expect in a less than savory tale. There’s big money, men who wield their power to bend others into submission, and plenty of questions about denial and morality.
Needless to say, Sen. Mitch McConnell is not going to get the leading role in any film, but he is a star player in this script. He has been practicing his lines since the November election, with rhetoric about pushing through the Keystone Pipeline and vowing to deadlock any advancement in the regulation of coal. Backing moves to reduce the carbon pollution emanating from power plants is not in his screenplay — no way, no how.
However, McConnell has creatively managed to construct a scenario for undoing two decades of environmental legislation. In his rewrite, there will be no going back to the days when safeguarding the environment and health of Americans were embraced by both parties — and were not a matter of partisan politics.
In the key role of supporting actor is climate-denier, Sen. James Inhofe, 80, who has landed the part of a lifetime. He is now the Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW). As the protagonist character, despite being “cast against type,” Inhofe will have dialogue coaches reeling as he delivers many of the off-the-cuff, improvisational remarks that have won him renown. (“Man can’t change climate.”)
Ironically, there is one scientist who Inhofe does put his faith in. His name is Wei-Hock Soon, and he is currently in the middle of a paparazzi media storm. Soon is a researcher affiliated with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He has testified in front of Congress, disputing the findings of 97 percent of his colleagues. Soon elucidated upon his doubts on the connection between the actions of humans and the causes of global warming.
Last week Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center, which got hold of records through the Freedom of Information Act, released documentation showing that Hock had received in excess of $1.2 million from those in the fossil-fuel industries during the past decade. Hock neglected to mention the fact of his funding in his published papers and findings on climate change. It’s possible that the additional $230,000 bestowed upon him from the Charles G. Koch Foundation made his memory foggy.
Over in the House of Representatives there is some encouraging news. The Safe Climate Caucus is up and running under the new leadership of Rep. Alan Lowenthal. He wrote in a mid-February blog, “This caucus aims to speak the truth, even in the face of denial.”
I’m hopeful. Maybe this story will have a happy ending.