Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie announced yesterday that global warming “isn’t a crisis,” based not on science or reason but rather on his personal “feeling.” In an interview on MSNBC, Christie was asked whether he accepts the essentially universally-accepted science of human-caused global warming, to which he replied that he does believe humans contribute to climate change but the issue isn’t a big deal. “It’s not a crisis. The climate’s been changing forever and it will always change,” he said. When host Joe Scarborough jumped in citing statistics that the ten warmest years on record have all happened since 1998, Christie was perfectly happy to dig himself a deeper hole of ignorance, saying that he doesn’t “buy it.” He was then asked what scientists he relies on to make his claims, to which he responded, “That’s my feeling. I didn’t say I was relying on scientists. I don’t see any evidence that it’s a crisis.”
In the post-truth world in which most Republicans seem to live, it is common for politicians to base their beliefs and policies on “feelings” rather than facts, on what they believe should be true to fit their worldview rather than what demonstrably is. Yet such a blatant admission of this alternate Republican reality is rare, and its implications are alarming. The very fact that Christie “doesn’t see any evidence” that climate change is a crisis when the overwhelming evidence that it is can easily be accessed by a kindergartener is frightening enough, but what’s even worse is the idea that one can and even should govern and formulate policy based purely on gut instincts. Christie’s “not seeing” any evidence that climate change is a crisis has no relation to the reality that it is, and anyone who would lead based on such demonstrably false “feelings” because they are too steeped in their twisted worldview to see easily-observable truths is unfit to govern.
What’s even more alarming is that Chris Christie is in fact one of the most sensible of the Republican presidential candidates when it comes to climate change; he is one of the only candidates that publicly accepted the existence of human-driven climate change, which isn’t surprising in a party greedy enough to feast on oil money at the expense of the planet and stupid enough to think that snow disproves climate change.
The vast majority of the world’s climate scientists, who are currently gathered at a climate summit in Paris that many Republicans would ditch, agree that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions will and their effects on the atmosphere will indeed provoke a climatic crisis unless they are seriously reduced. As the increase in global temperature moves seemingly inexorably towards the threshold of 2℃, it is increasingly likely that the Earth will be facing catastrophic food shortages, sharply increased extinction rates, irreversible sea-level rise, worsening poverty, more frequent and more powerful natural disasters, millions more refugees, and wars over water. Even in Christie’s home state of New Jersey, many climate scientists are now saying that the effects of Hurricane Sandy – which Christie constantly refers to for the boost in the polls that proximity to tragedy creates – were severely worsened by climate change. But, good news for those tens of millions of people who will likely die from climate change in the coming decades: it doesn’t seem like a big deal to Chris Christie!
Colin Taylor is the managing editor of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.