Photo courtesy of freddthompson via flickr
This article was cross-posted from The Wonk Room.
In a recently published New York Magazine profile, pollution billionaire David Koch lies about his support for tea-party radicalism, cracks racist jokes, and denies the threat of global warming.
One of the wealthiest men in the world, Koch has used his billions for decades to promote the extremist, anti-regulatory, right-wing political groups like Americans for Prosperity that now organize under the Tea Party banner. “I’ve never been to a tea-party event,” Koch told reporter Andrew Goldman, even though he hosted AFP’s “Defending the American Dream” tea-party hoopla in Washington, D.C., last year.
Fueled by his fear that the greenhouse gas pollution generated by Koch Industries might be limited by government regulation, Koch promotes a fantasy about benefits of a changing climate:
Koch says he’s not sure if global warming is caused by human activities, and at any rate, he sees the heating up of the planet as good news. Lengthened growing seasons in the northern hemisphere, he says, will make up for any trauma caused by the slow migration of people away from disappearing coastlines. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he says.
Unfortunately, Koch’s pollution really is heating the planet, and the consequences are grave. With less than 1.8 degrees F of average warming, heat waves, extreme storms, droughts, sea levels, ocean acidity, wildfires, and flooding are already on the rise. In the unregulated world of global warming pollution envisioned by Koch, the planet’s average temperature will increase five to ten times more than existing warming, with a significant chance of a runaway greenhouse effect.
As warming passes 12.6 degrees F, possible within this century, half the world’s inhabited area will become uninhabitable, literally too hot for the human body to survive. The world’s coral reefs will go extinct, as will about 50 percent of the species on the planet.
The IPCC analysis of global warming’s impact on agriculture found that even if destructive changes in extreme events or the spread of pests and diseases are ignored, agricultural yields will decline in the poorer regions of the world under relatively minor warming. Events like the record Russian heat wave that has destroyed 32 percent of its wheat crop and sent global prices skyrocketing will become commonplace. As temperatures increase more than 5.4 degrees F, global productivity will decline, the American heartland will have turned to a permanent Dust Bowl, coastal areas will be consumed by rising seas, and the world’s glaciers will have melted into memory.
As the David Koch-funded Smithsonian Human Origins Initiative warns, global warming is an “experiment” that is “likely to create entirely new survival challenges” for the entire human race. Quite simply, Koch’s happy scenario of a greenhouse planet comfortably sustaining human civilization is not based in fact.
Koch’s sense of humor is as regressive as his politics. “I played basketball when you could be white and be good,” Koch joked about his college days, though he made sure to tell the reporter, “I’m not a racist. I’m very broad-minded.”