You’d think that saving our planet might be one goal that merited bipartisan support. A chance to bring all the world’s powers together – including China, Russia and India – might be something else we could all agree was worthwhile. But no, the StarTribune headline today (of a Washington Post story) trumpets: “GOP hopes to block any climate agreement.” There’s no interest even in waiting to see what such an agreement might entail. It’s enough, apparently, that Obama is involved. But more than that, the National Geographic noted two issues ago that the Republican Party in America is the only political bloc in the world that doesn’t recognize climate change and the need to do something about it.

A New York Times article today reported that two-thirds (and rising) of Americans recognize the need to combat climate change, and Republican voters – unlike their representatives – are almost evenly split on the subject. Coincidentally, a similar disconnect is reported in Britain’s Labour Party, where their leader, Jeremy Corbin, and a majority of his constituents oppose British bombing in Syria, while his Shadow Cabinet support, instead, PM Cameron’s plan to attack. It seems that politicians often are not leading, but are lagging behind the people they represent. This was certainly the case with the Republicans and gay marriage.

David Brooks, in his oped piece today, more or less acknowledges this phenomenon when he suggests that efforts to combat climate change will only come when the economy makes them profitable, rather than from political agreements on high. He does say that government has a role: to nudge entrepreneurial activities that will speed such an economic shift. He fails to follow his argument – as I have pointed out in a letter to the Times – by mentioning that government can similarly and simultaneously encourage this development by discontinuing the outdated and environmentally damaging subsidies it still accords the coal and oil industries. Earlier in his piece he refers to the GOP “thought police” that will knock on the door of any Republican candidate who acknowledges the science of climate change, and I wonder if concern for his standing as the Times’s resident Republican columnist has led him to shy away from this obvious corollary to his proposal.

I do agree with the main point, however, that where there is money to be made or votes to be won by conduct or speech that incidentally hurts the environment and the long-term prospects of our civilization, our planet will be in trouble.