In this Online Citizen article "Will Durban extinguish all hope for the planet?", NUS undergraduate Ezra Ho wrote about how world leaders "indulge in Machiavellian machinations while the planetary doomsday clock inches away to midnight". If one looks at the science behind the warnings of global warming, there is little doubt now that we are on a trajectory that will likely lead to significant climate change and potential ecological disasters. The IPCC models predicting climate change have proven accurate with new data collected. A few years back when George Bush was president, in order to delay action and policies to address the issue, funded climate skeptics to cast doubt on the work of reputable climatologists. While skepticism and disagreement is an important part of the scientific process, we expect leaders to act based on the best scientific evidence. Scientific disagreement can go on and on until the IPCC predictions come true in which case it is too late for everyone. The number of honest skeptics has shrunk as new evidence comes in but political opposition to green climate policies has risen in the US. Why?
US politics has become so ideological in nature it does not matter what the scientists say. The pro-business lobby has successfully mis-informed a large number of voters to the extent that any right wing politician will find his campaign in trouble if he dares to say that something needs to be done to address climate change. Take Newt Gingrich, the front runner in the Republican campaign as an example. A few years back, he appeared in advertisement with Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, to inform Americans of the importance of caring for the environment. This seemingly mild message became a liability in his campaign to be the Republican Presidential candidate and he was forced to admit that he "was dumb" and deny that he thinks human activity has anything to do with global warming.
Note that he said "I do not know whether global warming is occurring". Other candidates in the Republican party have said they are not sure if global warming is caused by human activity. The reason for this is simple. If they admit they believe the reports of the IPCC or US Academy of Sciences, they will lose their support base and campaign funding. Slowing global warming requires concerted action by govt and will result in more regulation for businesses....and in the short run may have a negative impact on the economy. We can't run away from paying some price for saving the planet. While we can debate what needs to be done to save the planet, denying the huge body scientific of evidence and their conclusion that action is needed puts the future of this planet and our children at risk.