Many Climate Sceptics in the New US Congress Fr. Séan McDonagh, SSC


The mid-term election in the United States on November 2nd 2010, was not just a bad day for the Democratic Party, it also saw the election of a host of climate sceptics.  This will make it much more difficult for President Obama to get an energy or climate bill through the US Congress during the next two years.


The current situation on climate change was accurately articulated in a joint communiqué from the British Government and the Holy See on September 18th 2010. The statement read: “The British Government and the Holy See share a conviction of the urgent need for action to address the challenge of climate change. Action is needed at every level from the governmental to the individual, if we are to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to set in motion the transition to a global low carbon  economy, and to assist poor and vulnerable countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change that are already inevitable.”  Unfortunately, the statement received little media coverage during Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain.


The following are some of the comments made by newly elected members of the U.S. Congress according to Kevin Kobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists..


“With the possible exception of Tiger Woods, nothing has had a worse year than global warming. We have discovered that a good portion of the science used to justify “climate change” was a hoax perpetrated by leftist ideologues with an agenda.”
-Todd Young, new congressperson from Indiana

“I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate.”
-Ron Johnson, new senator from Wisconsin

“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.”
-Steve Pearce, new congressperson from New Mexico
“It’s a bigger issue, we need to watch ’em.  Not only because it may or may not be true, but they’re making up their facts to fit their conclusions. They’ve already caught ’em doing this.”
-Rand Paul, new senator from Kentucky.

“There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.”
-Roy Blunt, new senator from  Missouri. [1]

It is important to recognize that these sceptics had formidable backing from big oil, the coal industry, and electric utilities. These industries have deep pockets and a singular goal of protecting their own interests.  Even before the mid-term election, when the Democrats had the control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it was difficult to get a climate change or energy bill through the U.S.     Kevin Knobloc believes that politicians “ who are supposed to be representing our interests in the nation’s capitol have been too busy carrying water for narrow corporate interests rather than coming together to make real, positive change.” [2]


In Merchants of Death, published earlier this year by Bloomsbury, two U.S. well known academics, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, exposed how corporations and conservative foundations have funded  a number of campaigns during the past 40 years. In the 1970s, despite overwhelming medical evidence linking smoking and cancer, they managed to delay anti-smoking legislation.  They have also helped to block legislation curbing acid rain, ozone-layer depletion and, in the past two decades, global warming and climate change.


What about the science of climate change which many of these new members of Congress are dismissing?  In 1999, Peter Stott, who was then head of climate modeling at the British Met Office’s, Myles Allen from Oxford University and a number of meteorologists published an article in the journal Nature. They based their predictions on the range of temperature change for the period between 2000 and 2040 on temperature data which had been collected in the period between 1946 and 1996.  They then drew a graph representing the range of predicted outcomes for that period with a dotted line indicating the most likely outcome.  The graph predicted that there would be a 0.8 degrees rise in temperature in 2010, when compared with 1946. This is exactly what has happened. So the science has been vindicated. [3]


Finally, there were glimmers of hope even on election night 2010. The voters in California defeated an attempt by out-of-state oil companies to repeal the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act.






[2] Ibid.

[3] Robin McKie, “A dark ideology is driving those who deny climate change,” The Observer, August 1st 2010, page 28.


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