This report, of course, is far from the first paper pointing out the effects of climate change: higher temperatures, rising sea levels, more likelihood of extreme weather events and so on. Eighty seven percent of scientists believe humans are driving risky change. The consensus is overwhelming: Climate change is here, and we need to do something about it.
Which brings me to Scott Walker and his dodge on whether he believes in evolution, and more specifically, the conservative complaint that the question has no value and is only asked because journalists know it will generate headlines. For example, Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro writes, “there is little doubt that the media are now playing a ‘gotcha’ game, in which Republicans are asked questions that have no bearing on public policy to drive wedges into the conservative base, while Democrats are allowed to ignore serious scientific questions that have real public policy consequences.”
I have no doubt that Shapiro is right that at least some reporters ask these questions because they know the answers will get attention. But that doesn’t take away the fact that a candidate’s answer to the question “Do you believe in evolution?” tells us something very valuable about how a candidate prioritizes scientific evidence against politics in making policy.
Walker, after all, answered the question later on Twitter, writing, “Both science & my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God. I believe faith & science are compatible, & go hand in hand.” That is a perfectly acceptable and straightforward answer, a view that is shared by millions of Americans, including scientists. So why did he not just say that from the start? Why did he decide to hem and haw? It is clear that he was worried what the backlash to that answer might be, no matter how much it was supported by the facts. That cowardice should scare everyone.