Tea Party Has Republicans Afraid To Discuss Scientific Consensus On Climate Change

ocean temperature increase

Republicans must say idiotic things to get elected, often denying science, but that does not mean that all elected Republicans are idiots. Bloomberg has discussed the scientific consensus on climate change with many Republicans. While well ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree on how human action has caused global warming, rank and file Republican remains in denial, often seeing this as stemming from a left wing conspiracy. Republicans must play to this attitude even if they know better:

In stark contrast to their party’s public stance on Capitol Hill, many Republicans privately acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity is at least partially responsible for climate change and recognize the need to address the problem…

In Bloomberg BNA interviews with several dozen former senior congressional aides, nongovernmental organizations, lobbyists and others conducted over a period of several months, the sources cited fears of attracting an electoral primary challenger as one of the main reasons many Republicans choose not to speak out.

Most say the reluctance to publicly support efforts to address climate change has grown discernibly since the 2010 congressional elections, when Tea Party-backed candidates helped the Republican Party win control of the House, in part by targeting vulnerable Democrats for their support of legislation establishing a national emissions cap-and-trade system…

While environmental groups continue to search for Republican candidates to back, Goldston said the Tea Party movement has swept many more deniers of climate change into Congress than ever before, and it has pushed Republicans away from basic environmental principles. He disagreed with others who said many Republicans privately acknowledge the risks of climate change, even if they don’t say so publicly.

“It’s very comforting for people to think that these people are pretending,” Goldston said. “It’s not true. The problem would be in many ways easier to solve if it was true.”

Chris Miller, who served as a senior energy policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), agreed with Goldston’s assessment that the Tea Party has made it “impossible” for Republicans to speak on the issue.

“I have had no or very few private and honest interactions with Republicans on the topic,” Miller told Bloomberg BNA. “They’re all too scared of speaking the truth.”

It is ironic that Republicans are now afraid to express support for cap and trade considering that this was largely a Republican idea in the past, similar how Republicans now oppose aspects of the Affordable Care Act which were initially advocated by Republicans such as the individual mandate and selling insurance through exchanges.

In order to oppose the scientific consensus on climate change, conservatives frequently spread false claims and distort statements from scientists. For example, Rebecca Leber recently described how conservatives misquoted climate scientists to promote their claims that global warming is on hiatus:

Norman Loeb, an atmospheric scientist with NASA, gave a crash course in climate change science for the public at Virginia Air and Space Center on Tuesday. He talked about all the evidence that the planet is warminglike the fact that temperatures right now are the hottest they’ve been since record-keeping began in 1850. He also noted that the rise in surface temperatures has slowed considerably since 2000. This doesn’t contradict the theory of global warming, he explained. Land temperature regularly varies, and much of the warming in the last decade is happening unseen in the ocean.

The same day, the frequently conservative-leaning Washington Times ran a short story on the talk. It said that a prominent NASA scientist had admitted global warming is on “hiatus.” As the writer explained, “The nation’s space agency [has] noticed an inconvenient cooling on the planet lately.”

It was pretty much the opposite of what Loeb was trying to say. But it’s not an isolated incident. Conservatives love to cite the relative stability of global surface temperatures for the last 15 years as proof that climate change is a hoax. And they frequently twist the words of scientists to do it. I read or hear versions of this argument all the timefrom outlets like Forbes, National Review, and Fox News. Sometimes the conservatives even talk about “global cooling,” joking that maybe we should be more worried about that, instead. This sort of commentary probably helps explain why still find that just 67 percent of Americans accept that humans cause climate change, even though there is nearly unanimous scientific consensus.

Needless to say, the conservatives have it all wrong. And the science really isn’t that hard to understand…


  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    97% consensus! You really mustn’t swallow these things whole, Doctor, it’s not good for you!


  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    The scientific consensus on climate change is a fact, regardless of how conservatives try to deny science and distort the facts.

  3. 3
    David Duff says:

    Well, ignoring the ad hominems, no-one has conducted a rigorous world-wide survey of scientific opinion – assuming you could agree on what, exactly and precisely, you require to be considered eligible.

    Also I would remind you gently that there was a time when the greatest scientific brains of the age once believed that phlogiston existed. Also, the entire history of science has been a never-ending process involving the complete revaluation of previously-help beliefs which were believed to be true.

    Obviously, the fact – repeat FACT – that there has been a 13-year stasis in lower troposphere temperatures has not reached you and your gang who are, it appears, to busy sitting wearing blindfolds with your fingers in your ears whilst shouting ‘la-la-la-la-la’. This standstill in temperatures has occurred *at the same time* as CO2 emissions have raced upward and onwards.

    Er, by the way, how was your summer this year?

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Actually there have been efforts quanitate the number of scientists agreeing with the scientific consensus, such as here, listing of scientific organizations which agree, and debunking of the right wing misinformation being spread to deny this.

    I have previously provided links which debunk the right wing claims of a hiatus in global warming. I note that you are being selective in limiting to the lower troposphere, ignoring the far more significant ocean data. The post also notes how the right wing has distorted information to make these false claims.

    There is a huge difference between primitive science being disproven and facts established by modern science. Both are applications of the scientific method.

    Summer has been going well. I just got back from Boston yesterday and, among other things, caught 6 1/2 episodes of True Detective on the trip there and back.

  5. 5
    David Duff says:

    Was that the new series of ‘True Detective’?

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    The first season. I don’t even think they are filming the second season yet. We had a couple comments on True Detective previously when I asked your opinion as I had not seen it yet. Hopefully I will have time to finish the first season this weekend, but I am also backed up on current shows having been out of town so I might not get to it. I don’t want to spend too much of one of the few remaining summer weekends watching TV, and there is also the season premiere of Doctor Who and premiere of Intruders on Saturday.

  7. 7
    David Duff says:

    “Doctor Who”? Sometimes I worry about you, Ron!

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