Elsewhere in this volume she talks about creationism, saying she “didn’t believe in the theory that human beings — thinking, loving beings — originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea” or from “monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees.”
“But your dad’s a science teacher,” Schmidt objected. “Yes.” “Then you know that science proves evolution,” added Schmidt. “Parts of evolution,” I [Palin] said. “But I believe that God created us and also that He can create an evolutionary process that allows species to change and adapt.” Schmidt winced and raised his eyebrows. In the dim light, his sunglasses shifted atop his hear. I had just dared to mention the C-word: creationism. But I felt I was on solid factual ground.
Although this has obviously disturbing implications re: the kind of leader millions of Americans want to see in the White House, there are two finer, interrelated points to be made which actually bring this post back on topic.
The first is that creationism and climate denialism overlap a great deal, not just among the average evangelical Christian and biblical literalist, but also at the highest levels of US legislature and amongst the “foremost” climate change “skeptics”.
The second is that this is no accident, no mere co-incidence of ideologies (i.e. Christianism and anti-regulation fundamentalism). As I wrote regarding Palin previously, people who live in a world where the ultimate cause of everything is literally “God did it” are not going to accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change.
Palin expresses exactly such a worldview in her memoir:
In everything that happens to her, from meeting Todd to her selection by Mr. McCain for the Republican ticket, she sees the hand of God: “My life is in His hands. I encourage readers to do what I did many years ago, invite Him in to take over.”
To see how this manifests in climate policy, once again, the great Senator from Oklahoma proves to be an illuminating if disheartening example.
I think he’s [a radio caller] right. I think what he’s saying is God’s still up there. We’re going through these cycles.
And of course Inhofe is neither an inconsequential figure (he was the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for many years and is its current Ranking Member), nor alone in the US Government-
Joe Barton is former Chair and the current Ranking Member of the House of Representative’s Committee on Energy and Commerce, and argued against using wind turbines to generate electricity because it would interfere with God’s regulation of the climate:
Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about.
Representative John Shimkus is also on the Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as its Energy and Environment subcommittee. He has argued against curbing emissions because:
The earth will end only when God declares its time is over.
As I wrote previously, someone’s religious beliefs do not a priori invalidate what he or she has to say about a subject, scientific or otherwise. However, it is undeniable that there are religious sects that are clearly hostile to reality as described by science, and whose adherents have no trouble either lying about or dismissing scientific evidence when it conflicts with their beliefs. Attempting to convince the Sarah Palins, Roy Spencers, and James Inhofes, et al. of the necessity of reducing emissions simply via the merits of the science is a fool’s errand. They need to be bypassed (or co-opted through a top down religious campaign), as they will not be won over through evidence and reason.
[UPDATE: Palin is of course out promoting her book, and had this to say about climate science on today's Rush Limbaugh's radio show:
I think there's a lot of snake oil science involved in that and somebody's making a whole lot of money off people's fears that the world is... It's kind of tough to figure out with the shady science right now, what are we supposed to be doing right now with our climate. Are we warming or are we cooling? I don't think Americans are even told anymore if it's global warming or just climate change. And I don't attribute all the changes to man's activities. I think that this is, in a lot of respects, cyclical and the earth does cool and it warms.
Just in case anyone was in doubt about her climate denialism bona fides.]