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The war on Earth


It is simply baffling, yes? Never mind the testimony of respected scientists. Never mind all the evidence. As we celebrated another Earth Day last week, Republican presidential candidates were fighting - in some cases mocking - efforts to protect the planet.

It's particularly baffling given the history of their political party. This is the party of passionate conservationist Theodore Roosevelt, whose leadership led to the creation of six national parks and four national monuments.

And as President Obama noted in his Earth Day address, Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency. George H.W. Bush "was the first president, globally, to acknowledge the impacts of climate change and that we needed to do something about it."

And yet the declared and presumed Republican candidates for president are not having it.

Jeb Bush has wiggled around on the issue of climate change. While he's "not a scientist," he's "a skeptic." He thinks "global warming may be real" but, he told Esquire magazine in 2009, "I would be very wary of hollowing out our industrial base even further."

"I think we need to be very cautious before we dramatically alter who we are as a nation because of it," he said.

Marco Rubio, says Mother Jones, has flipped from calling climate change an economic opportunity for clean-energy businesses to declaring that Obama's emissions limits will be "devastating to the US economy."

From Ted Cruz we have this, in an interview with the Texas Tribune: "the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers."

From Rand Paul (via Huffington Post): an agreement that there is climate change but he's "not sure anybody exactly knows why" and (courtesy of Politico), a dismissive "I don't think we really want a commander-in-chief battling climate change instead of terrorism."

From Mike Huckabee (courtesy of Politico): "A beheading is a far greater threat to an American than a sunburn."

Some of this, no doubt, stems from pure ignorance. A lot of it is bowing to oil and coal interests. Doesn't matter. This is the attitude we'll get with a Republican president.

A Pew Research Center poll last fall found that most Americans believe in climate change - and far more believe that human activity is a major cause than don't. But significantly, the poll found that we don't think it's nearly as great a threat as, say, ISIS or the nuclear threat from Iran and North Korea.

Bob Koch

Many of us are mourning the loss of a Rochester treasure, Bob Koch, who died April 16 at the age of 92.

For 30 years, Bob brought his intelligence, wit, perception, and his knowledge of literature and the arts in general to WXXI listeners. And in the early years of this newspaper, Bob shared his knowledge and insights with our readers, serving as theater critic, informing both our readers and our staff, for which we will always be grateful.

On the air and in print, Bob's love of the liberal arts was infectious. And he was every bit as warm and engaging in person as he sounded on the air. He was a genuinely sweet, lovely man who made enormous contributions to his community and to the arts, and he is very much missed.

A correction

In my April 22 column, I erroneously wrote that while the Rochester Broadway Theatre League continues to press for a new theater for its touring Broadway shows and other big events, it does not want to own or operate it.

It is true that RBTL does not want to own a new theater, board chair Arnie Rothschild says. But RBTL does want to operate the new facility, Rothschild says.