by Tiffany Germain – Guest Contributor, Kristen Ellingboe – Guest Contributor, Kiley Kroh, Posted on January 8, 2015 at 10:51 am
“The Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus: 114th Congress Edition”
This week Congress returns to the nation’s capital with 71 new members in its ranks. Those additions will bring little improvement in the views of congressional Republicans regarding the scientific reality of climate change, however. Over 56 percent of Republicans in the 114th Congress deny or question the science behind human-caused climate change, according to an analysis by CAP Action.
On the heels of what looks to be the warmest year in recorded history, with the global carbon dioxide levels that drive climate change reaching unprecedented levels, 53 percent — 131 members — of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives deny the occurrence of human-caused global warming and 72 percent — 39 members — on the Senate side sing the same tune.
While 97 percent of climate scientists are in agreement that climate change is occurring and is driven by human activity, several new members of the 114th Congress assert the opposite. Just this week, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) rejected the premise that greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change, remarking instead that “political correctness took over climate science,” E&E Daily reported Thursday.
During the campaign, several then-candidates sought to paint the conversation around climate change as a scientific debate. “I don’t know the science behind climate change,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). “I can’t say one way or another what is the direct impact, whether it’s man-made or not. I’ve heard arguments from both sides.”
In the Republican primary debate for North Carolina’s Senate seat last year, the moderator asked all four candidates, including the eventual winner Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), “Is climate change a fact?” The question prompted laughter from the audience as well as several snickers from the candidates. All four answered with a simple “no.”
The most memorable refrain from the 2014 election cycle regarding a candidate’s stance on climate change, echoed by prominent congressional Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was undoubtedly “I’m not a scientist.” The response represented a unique form of evasion and prompted significant backlash against the politicians’ refusal to acknowledge scientific fact.