As the California Academy of the Sciences hosted a prominent climate change conference this week, organizer and Governor Jerry Brown criticized his political opponents at the event, an event that could ultimately hinder his case for moving forward on the issue.
Brown blasted global-warming skeptics, particularly Republicans and the DC-based Cato Institute. He blasted Cato for adding to the “cult-like behavior of the political lemmings that would take us over the cliff.” He also said that the organization’s speakers believe that “environmentalism is a greater threat to capitalism than Marxism itself.”
The governor’s comments drew the following response from the think tank.
"Gov. Brown clearly has not read anything that the Cato Institute has published on global warming. Rather than deny it, we believe that indeed the surface temperature of the planet is about one degree Celsius warmer than it was 120 years ago and that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide has contributed to this," said Patrick J. Michaels, a senior fellow of environmental studies for Cato, in a statement to the Associated Press.
It’s not surprising that the governor used such strong language describing those with a different viewpoint on the matter. After all, those affiliated with the California Academy of the Sciences affirm the existence of "climate change" in their Official Sustainability Statement.
“There is a broad, scientific consensus that our current environmental demands are unsustainable, causing climate change, degradation of natural habitats, loss of species, and shortages of essential resources.”
However, I would argue that Brown’s demonization of his political opponents only serves to portray him as merely pandering to his base. Unfortunately, it’s not the first instance in which Governor Brown has utilized inflammatory rhetoric to belittle his opposition. On the budget, he said earlier this year that Republicans had a fanaticism about not raising taxes and likened the party to the Catholic Church condemning people to Hell.
Perhaps Governor Brown should take some advice from his predecessor- another enthusiastic advocate of taking concrete steps to fight climate change-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former governor said that being inclusive about the issue is the better approach. Furthermore, he called for emphasizing the benefits of green energy over the 'doom-and-gloom' that comes with inaction.
Even though Schwarzenegger left office on a sour note and isn't without flaws himself, his strategy of attempting to build coalitions would appear to be more effective in actually getting things done. Whatever one’s thoughts about climate change may be, building cross-party alliances is a principle that all politicians should adopt-both in working with each other on various pieces of legislation and in engaging the needs of a rapidly diversifying electorate.