It’s Groundhog Day. Every February 2nd, hordes of my fellow Americans gather around the burrow of a Marmota monax, commonly known as a groundhog, though we called them woodchucks where I grew up. When the animal emerges in the morning, presumably from its winter hibernation, the theory is that if it sees its shadow, it will return to its burrow and winter will last for six more weeks – until around the vernal equinox, which is the official start of spring in the northern hemisphere. If it doesn’t see its shadow, presumably due to cloud cover or perhaps even a large pine tree overhead, then spring is supposed to arrive early – before the equinox.
This is, of course, absolute nonsense. And the fact that the media actually cover it, including professional meteorologists, is rather insulting. After all, there is no scientific evidence backing any of this up. In fact, a study of groundhog predictions in 13 cities over the past 30-plus years determined that the animal’s forecasts were accurate only 37 percent of the time. And America’s best-known groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, has only been accurate 39 percent of the time. In other words, flipping a coin is a far more effective way to predict the weather.
Why am I even whining about this? Why make a fuss about a relatively harmless folksy tradition? Because I live in a nation run by imbeciles who put far more stock in such stupidity than they do in proven, rationale thinking.
Last year, 60 percent of the Republicans in the House of Representatives and 70 percent of them in the Senate were climate change deniers. They insist on ignoring the overwhelming body of evidence and educated views of leading experts across the scientific community, which have proven that climate change is real and that humans are impacting it. And now we have a President who is just as stupid. OK, let’s be honest, he’s a lot more stupid…but you get the point.
And we use the term climate change deniers because it’s not like these people actually believe that our climate isn’t changing, or that we, as humans, aren’t contributing to that change. They not stupid (well, at least not all of them). It’s just that these politicians are funded by special interests – a whopping $117.5 million in donations from oil and gas companies last year – who stand to lose money if we enact legislation that curtails the use of fossil fuels, even though that legislation would be prudent to protect our planet – as well as ensure the safety and security of the United States – from the adverse effects of climate change around the world.
Because they accepted those checks, these politicians cannot openly acknowledge the truth about climate change, let alone enact any sort of policy to address it. Instead, they choose to blindly deny all the evidence, citing fringe reports published by lackeys who are also on the payroll of Big Oil, and simply pretend that there is no scientific consensus on climate change. They turn their back on the green energy boom and all the jobs and revenue it would create for Americans (not to mention the future health and welfare of our species and our planet) in favor of getting a fat check today. They serve themselves, instead of serving the people.
So, yeah, I’m a little pissed that we give the groundhog tradition more credence than we do science-based phenomena like climate change. The good news is that 70 percent of Americans believe that climate change is real and affected by humans. The bad news is that we appear to be too stupid to elect officials who are willing to embrace the truth.
Today may be Goundhog Day, but every other day seems to be Big Oil’s.