As scientists agree that the problem of man-made climate change is getting more and more urgent, a review of their records reveals that all eight Republican senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee do not believe the phenomenon even exists.
This sentiment was on full display last week in a committee hearing on the subject, when, most notably, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., called for greater "tolerance" in "the public discourse regarding the many scientific viewpoints on climate change. Respect should be shown to those who have done the research and come to a different conclusion."
That conclusion is certainly "different" from the consensus reached by most members of the scientific community, who have concluded that anthropogenic climate change is real. A 2010 survey of 1,372 climate researchers, in fact, found that 97-98 percent believe in man-made climate change.
So what do the Republicans on the committee believe?
- Wicker, in addition to preaching "tolerance," responded to President Obama’s speech on climate change earlier this month by decrying Obama’s “assertions that global temperatures are on the rise – a notion challenged by scientists and scholars.” He was also initially slated to be part of the "Truth Squad" organized by Sen. Jim Inhofe (see below) for a climate change summit in Denmark in 2009, which was intended to present “another view" of climate change. In the end, though, Wicker did not attend.
- Inhofe, R-Okla., on the other hand, did follow through on the "Truth Squad" promise and attended the summit -- by himself. Inhofe is one of the Senate's most ardent climate change deniers, and famously said that global warming is the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." In Copenhagen, he described where that hoax came from. "It started in the United Nations," he said, but "the ones who really grab a hold of this in the United States are the Hollywood elite." Inhofe is also fond of proclaiming that “we’re in a cold spell” whenever it snows.
- Sen. John Barrasso, of Wyoming, was also supposed to be on Inhofe's "Truth Squad," but he too wound up sitting it out. He has said of Inhofe that "legislatively we're on the same page." What's on that page? In 2011 Barrasso introduced sweeping legislation that would have stopped the EPA from regulating carbon emissions without authorization form Congress, reversed the EPA's findings that carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses are harmful to the environment, and prevented the federal government from employing a number of federal laws that are intended to deal with global warming. “Washington agencies are now trying a backdoor approach to regulate our climate by abusing existing laws," he said at the time.
- Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the ranking member on the committee, once described talk of climate change as "ridiculous pseudo-science garbage that's so common on the left on this issue," adding that "I think there is beginning to be a serious reconsideration of the science of this."
- Jeff Sessions of Alabama was, in 2012, outraged when confronted with the fact that 97-98 percent of scientists agree on anthropogenic climate change. "I am offended by that, I’m offended by that — I didn’t say anything about the scientists. I said the data shows [sic] it is not warming to the degree that a lot of people predicted, not close to that much." He later added of the 97-98 percent figure: "I don’t believe that’s correct."
- "While there is no dispute over the fact that the Earth's climate has changed many times over the planet's history," Sen. Mike Crapo, of Idaho, writes on his website, "the underlying cause of these climactic [sic] shifts is ultimately not well-understood and is a matter of vigorous debate."
- Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas: “Well I think that we’ve got perhaps climate change going on. The question is what’s causing it. Is man causing it, or, you know, is this a cycle that happens throughout the years, throughout the ages. And you can look back some of the previous times when there was no industrialization, you had these different ages, ice ages, and things warming and things. That’s the question." He also once compared the scientists who believe in man-made climate change to those who warned about Y2K.
- Lastly, you've got Deb Fischer. The Nebraska Republican was asked during a 2012 campaign debate whether or not she believes in man-made climate change. Her immediate response was, "I certainly don’t support cap-and-trade," but then added that while she believes the climate is changing, she does not think humans have made a big impact on it.