During the recent budget showdown, as House Republicans made their boldest effort yet-and failed, at least for now-to repeal mainstream climate science, Democratic Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts managed to find some dark comedy in the situation. It’s customary during legislative debates for members of Congress to preface their remarks with “I rise” in support of (or opposition to) the bill under consideration. As the GOP majority on the House Energy and Commerce committee prepared to pass a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon pollution, Markey said that although he opposed the bill, “I won’t rise physically, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating around the room.”

Make fun, if you will, Rep. Markey, but just remember that the people who are manipulated by Republican puppeteers are happy. The gravity deniers would neither understand nor accept any of the hard science on climate change that Washington University physics professor Carl Bender hammered the audience with at last Monday’s West County Dems meeting.

Gravity deniers needn’t bother their fluffy little heads with the knowledge that humans have been sending greenhouse gases toward the ceiling these last fifty years, as this chart Bender showed us spells out.

Chart showing rise of greenhouse gasses

The horizontal numbers represent the years from 0 A.D. to the present. The vertical numbers are the concentrations of three gases in the atmosphere. You can see them begin to rise about 1750, with the start of the industrial revolution. At that point, the CO2 concentration was about 280 parts per million. By 1956, it had risen to 315 parts per million. Since then, the carbon dioxide level alone has risen almost 30 percent to 400 parts per million. To call that unprecedented doesn’t even begin to capture how astonishing it is what we’ve done.

And those figures don’t even take into account the CFCs we began manufacturing in the 1950s. Before 1950, the concentration of any CFC was absolute zero because it’s a gas that does not occur naturally. You can see what we’ve been adding to the atmosphere.

CFCs in earth's atmosphere

All these gases act like a blanket keeping the earth’s heat in and raising its temperature, as you can see in the last chart. The black wavy line showing the earth’s temperature doesn’t rise steadily, but it is rising inexorably.

Chart showing rise of earth's temperature

None of these absolute scientific verities trouble right wing ostriches. They stick their heads further into the sand so as to avoid hearing what the likes of Dr. Bender would have them know:

There are predictions that range … various computer models predict a temperature rise of two degrees, and some other models, eight degrees. Just to give you a feeling, a half a degree is enough to cause a major dessication. I mean, we’ve had summers, famous summers, where essentially all of the crops just shriveled up, where water had to be carried out to farms across the country in tanker trucks in order to have any food at all. That’s the kind of dry spell that you get from a half a degree. Okay, and they’re predicting somewhere between two degrees and eight degrees. So this is serious business.

There’s no way to put a cheerful spin on that information. I didn’t like hearing it.

You and I, Mr. Markey, understand that humanity, not to mention thousands on thousands of blameless species, could well face extinction. You have every right to make fun of the willfully ignorant power brokers who are taking this planet to perdition. I scorn the fools who adore them. But I envy them too. They are blissfully unaware.