The idea of quantifying the importance and severity of a human beings’ death is, obviously, not an easy exercise. However, for a devout Christian fundamentalist, and climate change denier, it is not only easy, it is a simple black and white conclusion based on who is responsible for the killing. For Mike Huckabee, Americans dying in Texas and Oklahoma are insignificant because they were not victims of Islamic extremists.
Back in February, President Obama correctly said that the media “absolutely” overstates the risk of terrorism around the world and in America while many more lives are lost from the effects of climate change and epidemics caused by global warming. Of course, that enraged conservative preacher, Duggar family advocate, and perennial presidential candidate Republican Mike Huckabee. Huckabee raged and attempted to contradict the President telling Fox News that, “I assure you that one beheading is much worse than a sunburn.”
Anti-Muslim preacher Huckabee is right, of course; a sunburn pales in comparison to one person having their head separated from their body. But the President was not talking about “a sunburn.” For at least 1,800 (and counting) human beings in India who perished from climate changed-caused extreme heat and lack of water from drought, the effects of climate change are, like President Obama said, a much greater risk than terrorism. Especially terrorism in Iraq and Syria caused by the Bush administration’s folly in creating ISIL (ISIS, IS).
There are overwhelming mounds of empirical data proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the risk to human lives from anthropogenic climate change far exceeds the risk posed from religious extremists in and around Iraq and Syria. There is, however, a great risk from Christian religious extremists in America that deny climate change even exists because god, witchcraft, and sodomy. Their denial supports Republicans in Congress fighting to perpetuate the causes of global climate change that is killing off hundreds of thousands of people every year; many more casualties than those caused by terrorist beheadings.
This climate denial among evangelical Republicans is in spite of overwhelming real-time evidence that the severe weather extremes like the drought and downpours in Texas and Oklahoma are undoubtedly the result of climate change and have claimed many more lives than terrorist beheadings. In fact, the extreme heat killing thousands in India is a result of the same conditions that killed Americans in Texas and Oklahoma.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), researchers assert that “the huge increase in the heat wave days are caused by the increase in the events associated with three El Niño years (2002, 2004 and 2009).” They say that the deaths in the country following El Niño years in 2003, 2005 and 2010 corroborate this trend. A 2014 study by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization found that climate change will double the frequency of what they label “super El Niño events. The study found that increased “greenhouse warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific warms faster than the surrounding regions and makes it easier to have maximum sea surface temperatures (SST) in the eastern equatorial Pacific, and hence more occurrences of extreme El Nino events.”
More extreme El Niño events mean more severe heat waves and, as Texans and Oklahomans have experienced, more extreme tornados and epic flooding events that have killed American citizens. Still, climate deniers like preacher Mike Huckabee believe “one beheading” is worse than a sunburn;” a “sunburn” that has resulted in over 1,800 heat-related deaths in India and 23 Americans in floods in Texas and Oklahoma.
Those extreme El Niño events are directly responsible for the recent severe extreme tornados and epic flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, for example, that killed 17 human beings in Texas, 6 in Oklahoma, and 14 in northern Mexico; nine Americans are still missing and it is a sure bet that their loved ones think not being accounted for is worse that one beheading.
Although weather forecasters employed by conservative media are loath to cite the connection between extreme weather events to climate change for fear of losing their jobs, real climate scientists with real empirical data have linked the devastation in Texas and Oklahoma directly to anthropogenic (man-made) climate change due to global atmospheric warming. According to comprehensive research by real scientists at Florida State University, “the atmospheric heat and moisture as a result of global warming caused the recent unprecedented increase in frequency and severity of rainfall” that killed Americans in Texas and Oklahoma.
The real scientific report revealed a simple fact every seventh-grader learns in America’s public school science classes; “a warming atmosphere that becomes saturated with water vapor is capable of causing ‘previously unimagined downpours.'” It is not, as Christians are wont to claim, god’s biblical wrath for witchcraft and sodomy. An occult or sexual practice has no impact on Earth’s atmosphere, but that fact requires a semblance of intelligence the people clinging to 4,000 year old mythos will never accept because it requires fundamental cognition they have not developed due to fear of terrorists and holding the Christian bible as their only source of information. Besides, one good beheading is a frightening visual they can relate to whereas Americans swept away and drowned in floods fails the ’emotional impact’ test conservatives depend on for effect and electoral support.
There are other mass deaths caused by climate change besides the recent severe weather events that drowned Americans and burned Indian people to death from the inside. A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report gave one example of unprecedented extreme high temperatures that directly caused deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease during the 2003 European heat wave that claimed the lives of 70,000 people. Obviously those 70,000 climate change-related deaths were more than just a little sunburn, but according to Christian Huckabee, they were not “worse than one beheading” because terrorism.
According to an Emory University physician and epidemiologist, Jeremy Hess, who studies the relationship between climate change and health said the WHO findings are “a significant step forward in the global estimation of projected disease burden associated with climate change.” However, he also was careful to note that WHO’s morbidity estimates “are certainly an underestimation” because a lack of data prevents getting a full picture of the relationship between climate and health.
In 2012, 20 governments commissioned DARA International to study the human and economic costs of climate change and their report arrived at significantly higher mortality estimates from global climate change than the World Health Organization. DARA linked 400,000 annual deaths to climate change, and projected that deaths will increase to over 600,000 annually within 10 years. That projected number of deaths rises considerably when they factored in the environmental health effects, like polluted air and water, of burning fossil fuels and were completely separate from climate change-related weather effects.
WHO also reports that climate change will kill an additional 250,000 human beings from heat stress (38,000), malnutrition (95,000), malaria (60,000), and diarrhea (48,000) on top of the 1.2 million humans worldwide already killed from climate change. The additional quarter-of-a-million human deaths are directly attributable to climate change’s “effects on the social and environmental determinants of health like the lack of clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food, and secure shelter.” It is noteworthy that those issues are precisely what the Pentagon labels as “threat multipliers” creating national security issues for America’s military.
All of those environmental determinants of good health that President Obama and Democrats are attempting to preserve, like clean air and water, sufficient food, and secure shelter are anathema to “conservative ideology.” And, according to Koch-Republicans are a prime example of wasted money and government overreach they are crusading to eliminate with ardent support of their angry neo-Christian base. The base, by the way, that considers one good beheading “much worse” than 250,000 human beings perishing from the effects of global climate change; it reveals the gross hypocrisy of the Republicans’ claim that they are avidly “pro-life.”
Americans must push Republicans to join with President Obama, and indeed the global community, and come together to not only address, but find a way to reduce, the deadly effects of global climate change. If they continue denying the existence of climate change the world, and America, will be forced to deal with increasing mass deaths from extreme weather events real scientists have been predicting were coming for the past thirty years.
At some point, it begins to appear that mass American deaths are exactly what Republicans are hoping for. There is little doubt that for Indians being burned alive from the inside, and victims of climate change-caused flooding and tornados in Texas and Oklahoma, the risk of climate change is much worse than one beheading. They also would also likely disagree with Mike Huckabee that what they are experiencing is much worse “a little sunburn.”
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.