Not understanding is not a defense

To the editor:

When House Speaker John Boehner recently told a group of reporters that he would not discuss climate change on the grounds that he, himself, was not a scientist, he joined the ranks of other prominent Republican politicians who have refused to talk about the issue on the same grounds. Members of this distinguished group include Florida Governor Rick Scott, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New York Representative Michael Grimm.

This rhetorical dodge is merely a convenient way for politicians to avoid denying the reality of climate change while they are actively fighting regulation that would stop it. If you don’t, can’t, or won’t understand something, then, you are not qualified to act for or against it. When you admit ignorance, then you must step aside and allow the enlightened to take charge, otherwise you are a hypocrite.

The U.S. Congress, of which Mr. Boehner is a member, authorized the creation of the recently released National Climate Assessment. It was written by scientists and other experts specifically so that members of Congress could understand climate change and how it affects our country. The coordinating lead author of the report, Donald Wuebbles, a distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences said that it was written so it could be “readily understood by any policymaker.” I doubt that Speaker Boehner is either ignorant or stupid, so I question his motive for playing those roles. I firmly believe that he has made a Faustian bargain with some very serious and wealthy people who will destroy his political career if he acts in an enlightened and intelligent manner. So, basically, we have a situation where a razor thin minority of wealthy Americans can make the speaker of the house proudly sound like a jackass.

As Upton Sinclair once said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

John Zavgren


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