Why Nearly Every GOP Senate Candidate is a Climate Skeptic


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All But One
There's a reason that it was so devastating when the Senate climate bill staggered to an untimely death a couple months ago -- beyond that singular failure to enact emissions-reducing legislation, there was the sense that it was the last chance we'd have for action in a long while. Due to the conventional wisdom that the GOP will sweep into power, there would hypothetically be a whole lot of opponents to climate action coming into office. Well, scratch that 'hypothetical' bit. Those fears seem to have been well-founded, because every single GOP candidate for Senate but one flat out opposes policy action to address climate change, and have made public statements professing their skepticism of the scientific consensus that man is causing climate change. In other words, the Senate is about to get stocked with climate skeptics. The Wonk Room recently completed a comprehensive survey of the more than 40 GOP candidates for Senate, and found that every single one, with the exception of Rep. Mike Castle from Delaware, opposes pursuing policy to fight climate change. The Tea Party line has been consistent in opposing climate science, and many of its brightest stars -- Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell -- are staunch in their denial of man-caused global warming.

This startling affront to the concept of using sound science to back policy decisions flies directly in the face of what the US National Academy of Science reported directly to Congress just a few months ago. Here's the Wonk Room:

In May, 2010, the National Academies of Science reported to Congress that "the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change" because global warming is "caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for -- and in many cases is already affecting -- a broad range of human and natural systems."

This finding is shared by scientific bodies around the world. However, in the alternate reality of the fossil-fueled right wing, climate science is confused or a conspiracy, and policies to limit pollution would destroy the economy. Remarkably, of the dozens of Republicans vying for the 37 Senate seats in the 2010 election, only one -- Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware -- supports climate action. Even former climate advocates Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) now toe the science-doubting party line.

Here's just one of the less-extreme examples in Carly Fiorina, who is running against the long-incumbent Barbara Boxer in California:

Of course, there has been no actual change in the science backing climate change to provoke such a pervasive change in attitude -- instead, a few PR crises made it politically expedient to turn opposing the idea of global warming itself into a populist, freedom-protecting cause. And that's what has happened. As a result, an entire body of science can be approached in the same terms that say, health care reform can -- climate science itself now presents an affront to personal freedoms and will kill the economy.

And that's why the prospect of seeing the Senate staffed with folks who refuse to take climate science seriously for years to come is frightening. It means nothing significant at all will likely get done on the climate front -- look what we accomplished with even a Democratic "supermajority". Nil. It's pretty depressing -- and it means that we need to start looking elsewhere to find ways to drastically reduce carbon emissions on a nationwide scale.

See the breakdown on the individual candidates and their stances in Wonk Room's report.

More on Climate Change and Candidates
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California Senate Hopeful Mocks Climate Change Threat (Video)

Tags: Barack Obama | Congress | Global Climate Change | United States

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