Elliot: Proof of proven proof


Joni Ernst, the GOP candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harking, D-Iowa, was quoted recently as saying, “I have seen no proven proof” that climate change is occurring or that humans have anything to do with it. If the change is occurring, that is. Or if there are human beings.

Or perhaps she might have meant that humans have nothing to do with anything. We drive our cars and SUVs, we buy several metric tons (not to sound like a European) of stuff wrapped in plastic, and we love our coal-fired electricity. Yeah, there’s no cause-and-effect going on here.

But “no proven proof”? Is that the opposite of “unproven proof”? Or the same? Are “proven proofs” and “unproven proofs” something that only right-wing Republicans know about? Kind of like those U.N. black helicopters that were spying on us 20 or so years ago?

(Hint: There were no such black helicopters. There were no secret coded instructions on the back of highway signs to help the United Nations take over the United States. There’s no tooth fairy, either. And Santa Claus? That’s akin to believing in Joni Ernst.)  

Is it too much to ask that our Senate candidates speak English? Or is that an expectation we reserve for Latino immigrants?

Meanwhile, back in the land of proven proofs, it’s been said so many thousand times that it’s become the proverbial broken record: The vast majority of scientists who know a thing or two or three about the matter believe climate change is real and human beings are the engine driving it. So you have to wonder if Ernst has read anything published after 1870.

Of course, if she wins the election, she’ll have plenty of company in the Senate; Gail Collins of the New York Times, using data from PolitiFact, reports that a whopping eight Republicans in Congress do not deny that climate change is real. Yeah, eight. That’s a lot of deniability.

(Of course, the GOP is the party of Richard Nixon, who was the father of modern deniability. So apparently, it runs in the family.)

So until the Republicans cross the Rubicon — or maybe they already have, and that’s why we’re in the shape we’re in, waiting for the sea to swamp our coastal cities. Republicans apparently shrug; most of the American big cities vote Democratic, anyway.

Meanwhile, back in Gail Collins land, which sounds like fun except for all the bad news (and that sounds a bit like the old Mrs. Lincoln joke), she also reports that seawater is gurgling up through the Miami Beach drainage system. As she quotes Leonard Berry, the director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, “At the spring and fall high tides, we get flooding of coastal areas. You’ve got saltwater coming up through the drains, into the garages and sidewalks and so on, damaging the Ferraris and the Lexuses.”

No wonder LeBron James left.

On the other hand, always willing to see the glass half-full (or, in this case, the glass of seawater more than half-full), the good news is, once the owners of Ferraris and Lexuses are suffering damage from rising seawater, maybe we can get something done.

Republicans or no Republicans.

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