Donald Trump will announce later today whether the United States will honor the international climate agreement reached in Paris two years ago, but in the meantime, his party’s rhetoric on global warming offers little reason for hope.
The HuffPost reported yesterday on Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), a former church pastor, who told constituents the other day that he doesn’t accept the scientific evidence, and even if the evidence turns out to be real, he’s content to let supernatural forces address the problem.
“I believe there’s climate change,” Walberg said, according to a video of the exchange obtained by HuffPost. “I believe there’s been climate change since the beginning of time. I believe there are cycles. Do I think man has some impact? Yeah, of course. Can man change the entire universe? No.”
“Why do I believe that?” he went on. “Well, as a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us. And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”
Much of this is tiresome palaver. The “there’s been climate change since the beginning of time” talking point, for example, is a favorite of climate deniers. Also note that the Michigan Republican is equating reducing carbon emissions with humans “changing the entire universe.”
But it’s Walberg’s expectation of divine intervention that’s especially problematic.
To be sure, the congressman, like everyone else, is entitled to his own beliefs about the supernatural. If he wants to believe a Supreme Being will intervene in human affairs, reduce climate pollution, and rescue humanity by ending the crisis, that’s his right. A career in federal policymaking may not be his ideal profession, but his conscience is a private matter.
The problem with Walberg’s perspective – well, one of several problems, really – is its broad applicability. By his reasoning, combating an environmental crisis is unnecessary because supernatural forces will solve the problem that Republican officials prefer to ignore. If this is how Americans chose to think about addressing challenges, and we started shaping policy to reflect unusual religious beliefs, the scope of the implications is staggering.
We could stop investing in national defense, confident that an all-powerful God would create peace. We could stop worrying about health care, knowing that He would heal the sick. There’d be no need for officials to focus on disaster preparedness and response because “if there’s a real problem, He can take care of it.”
Fortunately, most people in positions of authority realize this isn’t a responsible approach to the challenges we face. Members of Congress are hired to at least try to solve problems, not ignore them and wait for supernatural solutions.