Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
GOP climate skeptics have held powerful positions on Capitol Hill in recent years, including the chairmanship of the House Energy and Senate Environment panels. But they’ve typically been among the minority. Now, they could form a key voting bloc, adding insult to injury for climate advocates who failed to pass an energy bill this year.
Environmental groups fear that adding more voices to the skeptic camp could further polarize the debate and make it more difficult at all levels of government to pass legislation curbing carbon dioxide emissions, especially if coupled with the defeat of standard-bearers such as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
Ron Johnson, running against Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D), is the latest in a line of Republicans to take a shot at the validity of global warming.
“I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change,” Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday. “It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination.”
Johnson told the newspaper that the climate change theory was “lunacy” and blamed changes in the Earth’s temperature to “sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time.”
Similar remarks have been heard from GOP candidates in all parts of the country even as mainstream climate scientists defend their work from a steady line of attack.
Four independent reviews have concluded that the so-called “Climategate” e-mails stolen last fall from a United Kingdom research unit showed nothing more than a frank discussion (sic) among scientists working through large and complicated sets of data. And while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has admitted it erred in its 2007 report by citing a report concluding Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035, the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. organization said the mistake didn’t undermine its larger body of work.
Former Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, running for his old seat in southern New Mexico, told POLITICO that climate scientists should be questioned more thoroughly because of the stolen e-mails.
“I think we ought to take a look at whatever the group is that measures all this, the IPCC, they don’t even believe the crap,” Pearce said in Artesia, N.M. “They’re the ones who say in the e-mails we’ve got to worry about this, keep these voices quiet. If they don’t believe it, why should the rest of be penalized in our standard of living for something that can’t be validated?”
Sharron Angle, the GOP opponent for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada, said on her website in June that she thought legislation to curb greenhouse gases “is based on an unscientific hysteria over the man-caused global warming hoax.”