It pains me to think about the 2016 presidential election, since we're just a few weeks past the 2012 election -- which felt like it went on for years (because it did).
But pundits who got the Obama-Romney victor wrong are now turning their attention to getting likely nominees for 2016 wrong. Which includes Florida Senator Marco Rubio on the Republican side.
This makes Rubio's recent comments about the age of the Earth even more disturbing. In my ever-optimistic mind, I've been hoping that after the G.O.P.'s solid defeat in the 2012 election, Republicans would realize that they need to become more moderate and reality-embracing.
No more denial of the reality of global warming. No more denial about the reality of evolution. No more denial about the lack of evidence for trickle-down economics and tax cuts creating more revenue.
Unfortunately, Rubio shows this hasn't started to happen.
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
Wow. One of the great mysteries? No, only to religious fundamentalists and science deniers. The age of the Earth is quite precisely known: 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years.
Scarily, Rubio is on Senate committees dealing with scientific matters. Climate Progress says:
Uhh, Sen. Rubio, may not be a scientist but he is a member of the Senate’s Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee. And presumably because he’s from Florida, home of the Kennedy Space Center, Rubio is actually on the Science and Space Subcommittee (!) which “has responsibility for science, engineering, and technology research and development and policy; calibration and measurement standards; and civilian aeronautical and space science and policy.”
Even more worrying, yet not all that surprising, is that each of the Republicans currently being talked about as 2016 presidential candidate material is anti-science to a disturbing degree. The good news is that their lack of contact with reality means they'll likely fare as well as science-denying Romney did.