Global warming gets the cold shoulder

Melissa Jane Kronfeld Freelance Writer
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The West Wing is buried in knee-high snow and on Sunday, hundreds of locals descended upon Dupont Circle for a massive snow fight. But the residents of Washington, D.C., are not the only ones feeling a chill in the air. So, too, are the die-hard proponents of global warming, and the recent snowstorms in our nation’s capital are not the only things dampening their heated arguments.

Certainly Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe must have felt a small degree of vindication when he required the help of a Land Rover-driving neighbor to blaze a trail through enough snow to get his Lexus SUV (not a hybrid, but a gasoline model, of course) out on the road earlier this week. After all, as the Senate’s most vocal adversary of the global warming activists and the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Inhofe has been a target of scorn since his prescient 2003 speech to the Senate where he declared global warming to be a “hoax… predicated on fear, rather than science.”

Even the District’s residents seemed to be mocking the jet-setting global warming proponents. Just about a block from Senator Inhofe’s house, a handful of Capitol Hill residents built a life-sized igloo that quickly became the talk of the neighborhood as dog-walking on-lookers and the steady stream of Super Bowl fans out to look for beer stopped to gawk at the icy-sculpture. And it was not because the igloo displayed an Eskimo-like mastery of snow-masonry. Rather it was the sign displayed next to the igloo, which read, “Al Gore’s New Home.”

Some members of the Capitol Hill press corps are also snickering beneath their hats and scarves. During last month’s snowstorm, the Washington Examiner’s David Freddoso, blogged about a 15-month-old Los Angeles Times opinion piece by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in which he lamented the lost years of his father’s time in the Capitol when D.C. was consistently blanketed by snow during the cold months, while simultaneously assailing big oil’s catastrophic carbon contribution to the changing climate as the reason why Washington can not get cold.

Freddoso noted wryly, “Having shoveled my walk five times in the midst of this past weekend’s extreme cold and blizzard, I think perhaps RFK, Jr. should leave weather analysis to the meteorologists instead of trying to attribute every global phenomenon to anthropogenic climate change.”

But all humor aside, 2009 was not such a good year for the global warming movement. And 2010 looks no better as scandalous revelations about fudging the numbers have cast doubt on the cause and the monumental failure at Copenhagen has reminded the world that consensus is the last thing the climate change community can claim. Damning articles over the weekend in Canada’s The Globe and the Mail as well as Britain’s Times of London, discussed the near-total loss of credibility on behalf of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And just last week, President Barack Obama was forced to admit that separating his so-called cap-and-trade plan from the green jobs bill might be the necessary predicate to pass his legislation without too much rancor in both chambers of Congress.

The environment is just one of many issues that is aligning advantageously for Republicans in the upcoming electoral season. A Pew Research poll released in October revealed that the number of Americans who believe that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming fell from 71 percent to 57 percent in a little over a year.

Republicans will not convert the faithful—those staunchly on the left or right who believe or do not believe in the global warming debate. But Republicans could lead the way for independent voters, the self-proclaimed nonpartisans who are already showing signs of abandoning the new administration and its deceptive party tactics. And if the strength of the independent vote in Virginia and New Jersey is any indication, what once was a Democratic super-majority in Congress will simply melt away like the frost on the White House lawn come spring.

According to a new Marist Poll released Monday, independent voters are increasingly rejecting Obama and his failed policies. In the first time since the president took office, 57 percent of independents disapprove of how Barack Obama is handling his job.

But what is most startlingly is that independent voters are the Americans most likely to have abandoned their belief in global warming over the past 12 months. From 2008 to 2009, the percentage of independent voters who believed in the evidence that favors global warming dramatically dropped 22 points from 75 percent to 53 percent. Meanwhile, Republicans fell 14 points (from 49 percent to 35 percent) and Democrats, who did not fall much, fell 6 points nonetheless (from 83 percent to 75 percent).

Capitalizing on this trend, Republicans must remind voters that despite Obama’s continued focus on the world getting warmer, members of Congress can not get to the Hill (votes were canceled and the federal government has been shut down all week in D.C.) to focus on the important issues that really concern American working families, such as the economy, jobs and taxes.

Focusing on cap-and-trade as the enemy of free market economics, Republicans can remind their constituents, across partisan lines, that while the Obama administration is snowed in worrying about the temperature rising, what they are not worried about is the rising number of unemployed Americans stuck shoveling their driveways, not much unlike poor Sen. Inhofe or the Examiner’s Freddoso during this late cold season.

Melissa Jane Kronfeld was a reporter with the New York Post from 2005-2009. A graduate of New York University and George Washington University, she lives in New York City, where she writes about politics and international relations.