In the sad, sad state of affairs known as American politics, this might be the saddest of them all. Yesterday, 50 Republicans in the Minnesota House voted to declare, in public, that they still know nothing about climate change. And they really don't care how many people know of their ignorance.
At issue was a minor amendment put forth by Rep. Frank Hornstein (D-Minneapolis).
The House was debating a bill on economic development, energy, and telecommunications when he proposed one simple sentence: “The legislature finds and declares that greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities are a key cause of climate change.”
It would add no new regulations, and cost no new money. But it's the kind of thing you add when the world faces a great threat, and dealing with that threat should inform all aspects of public policy.
Still, it was much too radical for many of Hornstein's colleagues.
No less than 50 House Republicans voted against it. Rep. Eric Lucero (R-Dayton) even took the floor to demonstrate that IQ tests should be required for state legislators.
“Human activities are not the cause of climate change,” he said, blathering on about the temperature cycles of history. “We were at one point in an ice age... This is fake.”
It was a go-to move conservatives have been making for years. If something doesn't meet your world view, and you're too lazy for personal discovery, simply declare it fake, and it will all go away.
The problem, of course, is that Mother Earth doesn't care if you believe or not. She's in the midst of a punishing campaign of erratic temperature swings, abnormally severe storms, flooding, hurricanes, and tsunamis. If Eric Lucero prefers to dump any measure of sacrifice on his children and grandchildren, so be it. The Good Mother's gonna do her thing regardless.
Hornstein's measure still passed after all 75 Democrats voted in favor. Four brave Republicans – Pat Garafalo (R-Farmington), Tony Jurgens (R-Cottage Grove), Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) and Nolan West (R-Blaine) -- broke with party orthodoxy to join them.
But since the bill must still pass the Senate, where Republicans hold sway, there remains a chance that Minnesota will remain among the states that still, after all these years, refuse to officially recognize the obvious.