Republicans like John McCain, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney once offered plans to help curb the effects of man-made greenhouse gases causing global warming. That ended in 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision eliminated restrictions on corporations’ funding of political campaigns. For the GOP, thanks to massive contributions from the fossil fuel industry, climate change became little more than a figment of lefty Al Gore’s tree-hugger, anticapitalist imagination.
Gore’s Academy Award-winning 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth and its 2017 sequel raised the public’s awareness of the dangers. Their science, however, was predated by the Hollywood icon who directed Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life. Frank Capra produced the first four films of The Bell Laboratory Science Series, which aired on network television in the late 1950s and were later made available for classroom use. One prescient episode was about global warming.
“Even now,” the character Dr. Research noted, “man may be unwittingly changing the world’s climate through the waste products of his civilization. Due to our release, through factories and automobiles every year, of more than 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which helps air absorb heat from the sun, our atmosphere seems to be getting warmer.”
Dr. Research warned, “It’s been calculated a few degrees rise in the Earth’s temperature would melt the polar ice caps. And if this happens, an inland sea would fill a good portion of the Mississippi Valley. Tourists in glass-bottomed boats would be viewing the drowned towers of Miami through 150 feet of tropical water.”
Global warming is not the invention of “liberals” in the 2000s concocting get-rich-quick schemes or hoping to tank the world economy—as the GOP likes to pretend. Scientists have been ringing alarm bells for decades, and their dire predictions have been realized: 2014, 2015 and 2016 were our planet’s hottest years on record.