Brad Johnson from The Wonk Room recently released a comprehensive list of what Republican contenders for the U.S. Senate understand about climate change, inferred from their public statements. The result? 47 of the 48 deny the existence of anthropogenic climate change and/or oppose mitigating action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Take a look – many of the statements are what you would expect from trolling YouTube commenters, not politicians aspiring to run the most powerful country in the world. Through a combination of framing science as personal opinion, promoting artificial balance, and re-iterating the same misconceptions that people like you and I have been fighting to correct for years now, the Republican party has adopted a position that, frankly, terrifies me.
“There are dramatic environmental changes happening the Arctic region – whether one believes they are man-made or natural.” – John McCain, Arizona
“While I think the earth is warming, I don’t think that man-made causes are the primary factor.” – Ken Buck, Colorado
“The climate is always changing. The climate is never static. The question is whether it’s caused by man-made activity and whether it justifies economically destructive government regulation.” -Marco Rubio, Florida
“[Scientists] are making up their facts to fit their conclusions. They’ve already caught them doing this.” – Rand Paul, Kentucky
“There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the Earth.” -Roy Blunt, Missouri
“I don’t buy into the whole man-caused global warming, man-caused climate change mantra of the left. I believe that there’s not sound science to back that up.” -Sharron Angle, Nevada
“There is much debate in the scientific community as to the precise sources of global warming.” -Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania
“It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ‘uncle’.” -Jim DeMint, South Carolina
“If you have one volcano in the world, that one volcano puts out more carbon dioxide than everything man puts out.” -John Raese, West Virginia
“I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity, or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate.” -Ron Johnson, Wisconsin
Who are these people to make statements about what the scientific community knows and does not know about climate change, when organizations like the NAS are quite capable of doing that themselves, and tell a very different story to these prospective Senators when they do?
Who are they to make informal analyses on the attribution of recent temperature change – assessing the likelihood of different causes via gut instinct, rather than looking at fingerprints like stratospheric temperature and tropopause height?
Who are they to spread around blatant mistruths like “a single volcano puts out more CO2 than people do”? Who are they to make damaging accusations about scientific fraud and false data, especially when these accusations have already been investigated multiple times, coming up completely clear?
I had hoped that politicians would be slightly more informed than the general public on scientific matters that have implications for policy. However, I must now change my mind, and hope instead that the American public realizes how off the mark this position is. If they don’t, there could be consequences up to millenia from now.