There’s such a thing as a harmless declaration. In a state like Texas which values its ceremonies, for instance, Rep. Shapiro has issued a declaration
WHEREAS The Senate of the State of Texas is pleased to recognize D. Michael Tanenbaum for his many contributions to the field of dentistry; and
… WHEREAS Dr. Tenenbaum … has practiced dentistry in the West Island since 1975; he is a founding member of the West Island Health Center [sic] in Dollard des Ormeaux and has served on the council of Presidents of the Federation of Dental Societies of Greater Montreal; …
now therefore let it be PROCLAIMED; That the Senate of the State of Texas hereby commend D. Michael Tenenbaum on his many contributions to his community and his profession and extend to him a sincere welcome to our state; and be it further PROCLAIMED, That a copy of this Proclamation be prepared for him as an expression of esteem from the Texas Senate.
Which I suppose constitutes implicit recognition of the West Island by the Republic of Texas, which may serve us West Islanders well should we ever feel a need to secede from Quebec and form a new Jewish state by the banks of the almighty St. Lawrence. But other than that long shot eventuality, pretty harmless.
Sometimes, though, proclamations get further than you expect. One Joe Read, state representative in Montana, quickly gained notoriety for offering the following bill to his legislature:
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT STATING MONTANA’S POSITION ON GLOBAL WARMING; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE.”
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Public policy concerning global warming. (1) The legislature finds that to ensure economic development in Montana and the appropriate management of Montana’s natural resources it is necessary to adopt a public policy regarding global warming.
(2) The legislature finds:
(a) global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana;
(b) reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment; and
(c) global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it.
(3) (a) For the purposes of this section, “global warming” relates to an increase in the average temperature of the earth’s surface.
(b) It does not include a one-time, catastrophic release of carbon dioxide.
NEW SECTION. Section 2. Codification instruction. [Section 1] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 75, chapter 2, and the provisions of Title 75, chapter 2, apply to [section 1].
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.
To be sure, this is just a proclamation which has no actual substantive importance, not even a nice West Island Dentist to frame it and put in the grand entrance of his brick fortress in Dollard, just below the crystal chandelier and beside the (authentic, he has the papers to prove it!) Georges Braque print. (You know, where it used to be that Chinese thing with the birds? Now he has there a plaque from the Senate of Texas, with a regular Texas Sheriff star and everything.)
Nevertheless, Rep Shapiro gets by with a little gentle mockery from me, while Read is being much more widely critiqued. To be sure, Read is propagating some, well, not entirely true things about climate science that might be damaging to climate scientists as a class. I am not sure whether he is liable for libel under the circumstance.
Certainly it is pretty irresponsible. But I think the confused opinion he is expressing (including some hard-to-parse exception (“(b) It does not include a one-time, catastrophic release of carbon dioxide.”) is his own, honestly held position. I am also certain that he is confused about science. He said in an interview with Brad Johnson:
The science is driven by grant money. It’s all on the side for writing studies that global warming is happening. There’s nothing on the side that says I wish to write a paper that global warming is not an issue. Money has been flowing into the grant purse.
If you follow the money, the science has been pushed toward where the money is coming from. The money is coming from the federal government. I believe global science is an ideal, not a true science.
Brad is to be congratulated for eliciting this quote because it reveals a great deal about what we are up against. People really don’t understand the difference between think tanks and science! They think the job of a scientist is to write position papers. After all, every PhD they’ve ever met spends all their time writing position papers!
Joe Read (and I really hope that’s pronounced “Joe Red”), I am convinced, means well. He is simply acting on the basis of trust in the media and the personal contacts that have informed his opinions. In the end, all of us need to do that to some extent. He is, in fact, being some sort of courageous with this noise; after all if he is wrong (which he is) doesn’t that make him not just irresponsible but negligent?
He is innocent of being a liar, but he is not taking his job seriously enough. If he faces no consequences for this excess, the whole party system is broken, which of course, it is, and the whole society isn’t taking its obligations seriously enough, which, of course, it ain’t. So Joe Read will suffer no more than all the other Joe Sixpacks and Joe Reds. He will probably not suffer any real consequences from his proclamation. His outrageous proclamation, I would say.
After all, isn’t repealing physical phenomena a federal matter?