Let’s talk about a controversial issue that has no business being controversial: climate change. It’s absolutely incredible to me how this is a topic of political debate. According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the rapid climate-warming trends of the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. They also agree that the earth’s temperature will continue to rise due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. For the midwest, this means extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will become more frequent. The rest of the United States will see more droughts, stronger storms, and less availability of clean water. The Arctic is expected to be ice-free by the middle of the century, resulting in the ocean’s water level rising one to four feet. This isn’t a weekly weather forecast subject to change at any given moment; this is based on long-term trends assessed by the scientific community.

Nor is it an attempt by greedy scientists to get more funding.

This is not controversial; this is fact. What’s controversial is how this became so politicized. First, let me be clear, I am not trying to slight any political ideology. This is because I don’t believe that climate change falls into the political spectrum. To me, that’s as absurd as saying Democrats can’t be religious or Republicans can’t be charitable. However, I do believe climate change denying has been propagandized by specific groups who have big-business interests. It makes sense that big business want more autonomy with less restriction and regulation, more closely in line with Republican views.

In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain ran on a platform that not only recognized climate change as real, but it strongly emphasized the need to combat global warming and reduce carbon emissions. In fact, many GOP leaders at the time supported the scientific consensus on climate change. What did McCain propose? A cap-and-trade system where an emission ceiling would be imposed on businesses unless they purchase a permit to pollute. What did President Obama propose to

Congress a year later? Pretty much the exact same thing. It was shot down by the Senate, including McCain who had by then distanced himself entirely from his previous climate opinions.

What changed?

For starters, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Citizens United v. FEC that corporations can donate as much as they want to presidential campaigns with no limits.

This is when two men by the name of Charles and David Koch entered the political arena. You’ve probably heard of them. Basically, they’re two billionaires who own a lot of oil refineries and pipelines.

The Koch brothers are obviously not interested in alternative resources, cleaner energy, and (actually understandably) more government regulation. As a result, they have used their massive fortune to influence politicians into supporting their business interests, including the refusal to take a stance on climate change. A Republican politician who endorses the science of climate change forfeits the essentially limitless amounts of money to be had from the Koch brothers.

The core of conservatism and the Republican ideology is fiscal responsibility, family values, and American traditions. These are admirable goals. Denying science, however, is denying fact, and it degrades from the legitimacy of intelligent conservatives who care about the economy and conservation. Let me be even more clear, voters in Mitchell County can do two things at once. They can support science and the environment, as well as whichever political party they wish. Clean energy is the next big frontier for technological advancement and, importantly, the creation of jobs. It’s an investment with limitless potential.

Nathan Johnson is an intern with North Iowa Media Group and is a native on North Iowa.

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