RNC Chairman Steele: “We are cooling. We are not warming.”
When Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele guest-hosted William Bennett’s nationally syndicated conservative talk radio show a few weeks back—in part, to diffuse the mounting tension between the Republican Party chief Steele and the de facto Republican Party chief, Rush Limbaugh—he gave a skewed interpretation of natural history and aligned himself with Limbaugh’s position on global warming in one fell swoop:
“We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about. How long have we been here? How long? No very long.”
But Steele didn’t stop there. He exhorted listeners to take sides in a debate that is “leading to the ultimate political Armageddon between conservatism and liberalism.” Telling one caller:
“And the idea that free enterprise, free markets, free people are going to battle an oppressive, repressive, domineering government. I love that. That’s what we are lining up for you folks. So you better get ready, strap it on, because it’s coming. And you better pick your sides, you better choose now.”
Like others, I’m not exactly sure how to respond to either of the above. First off, Greenland does not take its name because of the islands’ greener pastures, Greenland was actually named by the Viking, Erik the Red, to encourage people to settle there. The case is similar for Iceland. Icelandic oral tradition states that the name comes from the Norwegian Viking Flóki Vilgerðarson. Flóki chose the uninviting name “ice land” for the view of a distant fjord full of sea-ice that he glimpsed from a tall mountain. His choice was also influenced by the fact that he was not at first taken with the land, and he bad-mouthed the place after his return to Norway.
Second, while annual mean temperatures may have dipped in the last year or two, unless we’ve miraculously reversed a 100-year trend in the last two years, global temperatures are still climbing, and especially so in the Northern Hemisphere.
Finally, if Steele is trying to make amends for calling-out Rush Limbaugh as an entertainer by taking the right-wing talk show host’s divisive and oppositional politics to the RNC’s front office, he may have succeeded.