Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Republicans release climate change plan based on “Respiration Reduction”

Posted 01 Apr 2017 / 0

Like a lot of important policy these days, it all started with an early morning tweet from President Donald Trump:


What did the tweet mean? Could it be possible that the Trump administration had a plan to deal with climate change? And what does climate change have to do with microbes and antibiotics? Environmentalists, political commentators, and scientists were initially all befuddled.

For years the Republican Party has been the party of climate denial. Senator Ted Cruz has called climate change a “pseudo scientific theory” and likened it to a religion. Former Vice Presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin insisted that “these global warming studies [are] a bunch of snake oil science“. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry expressed his skepticism when he said “I don’t believe man-made global warming is settled in science enough“. And current President Donald Trump even once tweeted that “we could use a big fat dose of global warming“. But now it appears that the Republican party is finally beginning to take the threat of climate change seriously. This morning, they released a bold plan to arrest — and perhaps reverse — global climate change.

“The Democrat party, along with their allies in the radical environmental movement, have long tried to demonize the fossil fuel industry for causing climate change,” explained EPA head Scott Pruitt, “but we now have the facts, and the facts show unequivocally that fossil fuel emissions are not the problem”.

At a hastily-called news conference, a panel of top Republicans revealed the following graphic to beguiled reporters:

NASA Carbon_cycleRepublicans discovered this 2008 DoE diagram while deleting all climate-related content from government websites

“Just look at the facts America,” demanded Whitehouse press secretary Sean Spicer, “combustion is only a tiny part of the problem. It’s respiration and decomposition that are really causing climate change.”

“This chart — which is based on science generated by a government agency… before we dismantled such agencies — clearly shows that human activities are responsible for just a small fraction of greenhouse gases,” asserted Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Plants on land? Sixty gigatons of carbon per year. Six-Zero! Microbes on land? Also sixty gigatons! And whatever the hell is going on in the ocean? Ninety gigatons! Our piddly little nine gigatons of emissions are nothing to worry about in comparison!”

“These microbes, they are constantly breathing out carbon dioxide,” lamented an emboldened President Trump, “my experts have even told me that the plants get into the act. It’s really, really bad. Too much respiration. We’re not the main culprits people.”

When asked what they plan to do about all the “bad respiration” on the earth, the Republicans unveiled what they are calling their Respiration Reduction Plan (RRP). The plan rests on dramatically curtailing the rate of respiration, particularly in soil microbes.

“We know we can’t get rid of all the plants,” explained Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, “because they do some good stuff. But the microbes? They’re the reason we are in this climate change mess. Our Respiration Reduction Plan is going to get us out of this mess.”

At the news conference House Leader Paul Ryan explained that he intends to sponsor the Keep the Carbon in the Ground bill, which will fund and empower a War on Microbes. “This is pretty simple folks,” extolled Ryan, “you kill off most of the microbes that are causing all this carbon dioxide to go into the atmosphere, and you keep that carbon where it belongs, inside the ground.”

What kind of War on Microbes will allow the RRP to reduce problematic respiration? Like a lot of recently-concocted Republican plans, the dramatic announcement of a new and bold objective was accompanied by scant details on how the objective would actually be met. But recent deals on Wall Street may offer insights: economic commentators were surprised when mega-corporation Halliburton used a hostile stock takeover to subsume SterilizeIT!, a small Texas company that specializes in broad application of anti-microbial compounds. Experts speculate that Halliburton executives were tipped off to the RRP, which will likely require trillions of taxpayer dollars to be doled out to companies subcontracted to conduct the War on Microbes.

The introduction of the RRP seems to have been a game-changer for Republicans, who have been looking to shed their reputations as being soft on environmental issues. Seemingly every Republican on the Hill rushed to get involved; so many Republicans wanted to talk about the RRP that they overwhelmed the press corps, who for most of the year had been pretty bored and slightly depressed. Finally the party that controls the Whitehouse and both houses of Congress appears to have a plan they can all rally around.

“Yeah, microbes are the big problem, and if I could hunt them down, trust me I would,” promised Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “But listen, if it breathes, it respires, and if you kill it, it can’t respire. That’s why my agency will allow the hunting of any animal that dares to walk and breathe on federal land. Every little effort in the fight against climate change matters.”

A Major Post, Anthropogenic Change, Climate Change, Decomposition, Ecology, Ethics, Public Policy, Sustainability, System Stability

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