RNC head Steele: “The supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process…. It was once called Greenland for a reason…. Oh I love this.”

The titular head of the GOP is one Michael Steele, who coined the phrase “Drill, baby, Drill”

In a recent interview with Bill Bennett, Steele revealed he is an unusually ill-informed global warming denier — if that isn’t too redundant:

We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about. How long have we been here? How long? No very long.

What can one say to this litany of disinformation?

We are, in fact, warming and not cooling, Mr. “Head of the GOP.” I am now using quotation marks since anybody who spouts such nonsense is clearly taking direction from ideologues, not giving direction to anybody — as if recent events hadn’t made clear that Steele-Head-GOPer answers to Rush Limbaugh.

For those open to the facts on warming and Greenland, here are some places to start:

As for “it was once called Greenland for a reason,” how embarrassing that the leader of even a semi-serious political party would bring up such a canard.

Greenland has been mostly ice covered for several hundred thousand years. If it had ever had even half as much ice at any time in the recent past, sea levels would have been 10 feet higher. I expect someone would have noticed that. Also, Greenland is only a tiny fraction of the total area of the earth, so small changes in its climate (had they occurred) would have indicated little about planetary trends.

As for how it got its name, Wikipidea notes:

There are two written sources on the origin of the name, in The Book of Icelanders (slendingab³k), an historical work dealing with early Icelandic history from the 12th century, and in the medieval Icelandic saga, The Saga of Eric the Red (Eir­ks saga rau°a), which is about the Norse settlement in Greenland and the story of Erik the Red in particular. Both sources write: “He named the land Greenland, saying that people would be eager to go there if it had a good name.

It’s kind of like naming the GOP the “grand old party” or calling yourself “conservative” even though you have no interest in conserving anything, including nonrenewable resources or a livable climate. You’re simply trying to appeal to the easily duped (see “Gallup poll shows conservatives still easily duped by deniers“).

For more on the “Greenland was once green” denier talking point, see Grist and Skeptical Science.

Finally we have Steele’s

Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about. How long have we been here? How long? Not very long.

Most of us know that homo “sapiens” sapiens has been here a while, and, more importantly, that science can tell us about the planet even before “we” were here.

I suppose Steele thinks we’ve only been here 6000 years, which in any case is apparently long enough to trash the place.

I don’t “love” this — and I rather suspect that future generations will utterly loathe people like Steele.

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31 Responses to RNC head Steele: “The supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process…. It was once called Greenland for a reason…. Oh I love this.”

  1. Aaron d says:

    Sometimes its amazing these people get to such high public office positions and even more amazing that (some) people believe the stuff coming out of their mouths.

    By the way, this should go into the “best denier quotes!”

  2. Harrier says:

    By the grace of God, who most assuredly is not a Republican, Steele and his fellow deniers won’t be getting anywhere near the levers of power again any time soon.

    Although isn’t there something about a certain amount of warm water in the North Atlantic shutting down the Gulf Stream?

  3. Harrier says:

    Also, is Steele really that dumb? I remember hearing the story about Greenland’s name when I was still in elementary school.

  4. Rick C says:

    Michael Steele meet Sarah Palin.

  5. lizardo says:

    Well I am as dumb as Mr. Steele as I didn’t know why Greenland was called that and so I am really glad that you spelled all that out. More to the point (presumably), what shocks me is that the GOP doesn’t seem to have bothered to give Steele a proper staff or ensure that he has researched talking points instead of constantly getting up and riffing in these bizarre fragments.

    I guess he was recommended and vetted by the same smart folks who gave us Sarah Palin.

  6. Harrier says:

    I apologize to lizardo. I didn’t mean to suggest you were as dumb as Michael Steele. That would be quite a feat.

  7. David B. Benson says:


  8. Will Greene says:

    More proof to me that we need another massive climate change education campaign. (the first campaign to me was the time when Inconvenient Truth came out)

  9. Ben Lieberman says:

    Steele’s comments are shocking but at the same time not surprising if the GOP really is intent on becoming the GWP (Global Warming Party)

  10. paulm says:

    Scary. What a reflection on the GOP.

    No respect for the hours of science that have gone into this whole thing. He cant even be bother to get a qualified informed opinion on the topic.

    Has he even tried to investigate the science? Shouldn’t some one invite him round to go over the details.

  11. MarkB says:

    An occasional talking point of contrarians is the claim that it’s arrogant to think that billions of humans can alter the Earth’s climate by emitting huge quantities of fossil fuels at an extremely rapid pace and drastically altering its landscape (ok, so they usually spin and condense that into “arrogant to think that people can change the Earth’s natural cycles”).

    On the contrary, it’s extremely arrogant, as well as quite naive, to believe and hope that we can do the above and have little to no effect on the climate.

    To the content of this post, it’s also quite arrogant for political leaders with no expertise to mouth off and embrace any fringe view against the large body of science on the issue.

  12. These people are intellectual cripples. They need to be told that to their faces over and over again, in the most blunt of terms, otherwise they’ll never get any decent information outside of their super secret Rush Limbaugh fan club.

  13. MrMom says:

    If we ever let “conservatives” gain power again in our counrty, we can kiss our livable climate goodbye.

  14. Jay Alt says:

    Our local paper is a dispenser of denialist editorials. It is also in a university town.
    The editor was recently asked to moderate a climate forum hosted by the environmental
    council. I suspect this was by design. I’m sure he got plenty to think about, in a way that was non-threatening.

  15. ecostew says:

    Steele is an ungrounded “talking head” when it comes to science.

  16. Harrier says:

    In seriousness, I was reading about this over at Talking Points Memo, and I found this link:

    Could something like this really happen again as sea levels rise, or are our circumstances different this time around?

  17. Dean says:

    Regarding the future of the Republicans, 200 years ago the Federalist Party held the opinion that people of means were the smartest ones to run the country. This was their public opinion at a time when property requirements for voting were being removed and the voting populace was therefore becoming more working class. So much for the Federalists.

    Are we up for another party switch now? The system is a lot more rigid than it was then as ballot access laws now, which didn’t exist then, make the growth of alternatives much harder.

  18. Dano says:

    What is distressing to me is that hay will not be made from this patently stupid move. Nothing will come of it. No advantage will be gained. Nothing will be done. We will stew in our heat and simplified ecosystems.



  19. Could something like this really happen again as sea levels rise, or are our circumstances different this time around?

    This is a question that is burning in many minds right now as we speak. Clearly now most of the continental ice sheets are gone, but there is still remaining another third or or so of the total Wisconsonian ice burden, so yes, this could easily happen again. This is also complicated by a possible large Younger Dryas impact onto the Laurentide ice sheet, and we are still wondering if that really happened, and if large scale excursions and indeed, outright reversals in sea level rise actually occurred on short times scales in this most recent deglaciation, and the previous termination II. If these sort of short term large scale fluctuations can and do occur either by global warming and or unfortunate cosmic impacts, then this indeed could happen again. We are looking at something like meters per decade, or worse. The scale of global warming is much longer than meltwater pulse 1a or any catastrophic glacial lake discharge, and certainly longer than a sudden impact, but we have places like Greenland and West Antarctica which are in positions susceptible to ‘sudden impacts’ whether they be human induced or extraterrestrial. Any big bolide into the oceans will be very very bad for us.

  20. “What can one say to this litany of disinformation?”

    Makes Palin look like a Rhodes scholar.

  21. jorleh says:

    Changed tactics in GOP? Let`s keep idiots as voters, the greater part of voters are idiots.

    That is one chance to win elections in the future, and rather a good one.

  22. Gail says:

    Will Greene, it’s on the way, we will have to wait until May in the States:

  23. Lewis says:

    I’m on the same page here as Dano and others.

    How do we pillory this man for this misstatement?

    People lose their jobs for far less egregious errors spoken aloud. He is telling the ‘big lie’ and should lose his position because of it.

    There must be someone in the MSM (Jon Stewart?) who’d love to point out how stupid this guy is?

  24. Dano says:

    There must be someone in the MSM … who’d love to point out how stupid this guy is?

    This is the problem. The em-ess-em won’t do it, but the bigger issue is that there is no opposition party in this country. If there were, the party would pouuuuuund the party whose leader said these things. Then the gridlock would break, the intelligent majority of the populace would wake up, use their excellent public educations and galvanize around scientific facts, and then be emboldened to action.



  25. Barbara says:

    To Jay Alt:
    Keep us posted, your story might serve as a model for response to other editorialist denial.

  26. CTF says:

    I am a little shocked by his comments….doesn’t he have “staff?”

  27. justus says:

    I do love the implication that we can’t know what’s going on because we haven’t been here very long. So longevity is the prerequisite to knowing about the planet… huh. You know who must know A LOT? Sharks. Let’s ask them what to do…

    What an idiot.

  28. Will Greene says:

    Gail, I hope that movie doesn’t shy away from the nitty gritty science. In other words I hope it is more like “Inconvenient Truth” or “Crude Awakening” than “The Day After Tomorrow”. And it better be in every cinema in the country. Who knows it could do the trick, but after all we’ve been through I don’t think one movie will cause the awakening we need from the general public, who are still in a deep, deep slumber.

  29. Gail says:

    Will Greene, it is true that Inconvenient Truth did have an impact. Maybe it didn’t change deniers, but it galvanized people who were concerned about climate change, just not enough to become actively engaged (like 2 of my 3 daughters).

    It’s going to take major media events like that, plus horrible disasters like Katrina and the Australian fires and the 1.5 million dead cows in Argentina, multiplying, to get our vast stupid human population to take it seriously and hopefully (although by no means assured) not too late.

    Frankly for me this is a soul-crushing reality.

  30. David B. Benson says:

    Gail — Instead think of it as character-builing.

    But it is reality.

  31. Gail says:

    David B.B. –

    I appreciate the sentiment. And I strive to emulate it. But sriusly? Character building is finding out you will never achieve what you wished, or, you face a crushing disease or injury, or he’s just not that into you.

    The prospect of the end of human civilization? Art, music, literature, nature in all it’s beauteous and miraculous diversity?

    THAT’s soul-crushing.

    Unless you’re Sarah Moose-Slayer, then it’s vindication.