Posts Tagged ‘cultural war’

The great American divide

October 24, 2009

Some sobering news came out of the The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press this week. Fewer and fewer Americans believe in global warming. Only 57 percent of people polled say there’s solid evidence the Earth is warming, down from 71 percent in April of 2008.

With less than two months to go before the big international climate conference in Copenhagen and with historic cap-and-trade bills pending in Congress, only one in three Americans now believe global warming is a serious problem.

What’s going on? Well, just take a spin through those all-American towns and you’ll find out.

JudyAlaska“I think the timing of this bill is an absolute and total disaster,” says Judy from Alaska about the American Clean Energy and Security Act that the U.S. House passed in June. “Our economy is so fragile and is just now starting to show some signs of recovery. If this legislation passed, it’s like taking us out at our knees.”

Richard, owner of a small business in New Mexico, says the historic climate-change legislation will kill his company. “We’ve got to maintain our gasd2146e769e161ca40b9c8394e314aa3e0735ede7 prices where they are, or even lower ’em to be able to maintain our workforce,” he says. “If we don’t stand up…we’re all just going to be in the unemployment line.”

Energy Citizens, an organization funded by industry, chambers of commerce and the likes, uses multimedia and economic scare tactics to try to kill the climate-change legislation. The group’s Web site is crammed with testimonials from regular, hardworking citizens who somehow know that the cap-and-trade provisions will deepen the economic recession.

The propaganda seems to have worked.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have both concluded that the climate-change bills would cost households less than $200 a year, or $16 a month. (Less than a monthly family outing to McDonald’s or a nice bottle of wine.)

Like anybody cares. This is not about science, facts, economics or reason. It’s about the cultural war that has turned the United States into a politically stymied nation that puzzles and frustrates the rest of the world. It’s about the divide between liberals and conservatives, urbanites and rurals,  agnostics and religious, educated and ignorant, intellectuals and mainstream America.

The dad of a girl in my daughter’s dance class told me this morning that well-to-do parents of kids in the conservative Catholic school that his girl attends are openly questioning his work.

He’s an engineering professor on loan from a New York university to conduct climate-related research at a prominent, liberal Washington think tank for a year. He recently got a long letter from one parent who informed him that global warming is just a scientific theory with no basis in reality.

1095169_a_silhouette_of_the_pope_2Why, on Earth, would Catholics oppose the idea of climate change?

It’s simple, the professor told me. It has to do with their anti-abortion platform. There’s a feeling among religious conservatives that environmentalists are pushing population control to reduce human impact on the environment. Population control, in their view, equals abortion which they vehemently oppose.

Well, support for free abortion is waning too, Pew tells us. There’s been  a backlash against our pro-choice president, which makes perfect sense. For in the United States of America, unity is a rare thing.