Congressman McCotter cites experience of cavemen (in 1000 BC!) to deny manmade global warming

The emails may give the anti-scientific ideologues in Congress something new to talk about, but fundamentally it’s their anti-scientific ideology that long ago determined their position on the gravest threat to the health and well-being of future generations:

As an aside, to the extent that the hacked emails induce conservatives to focus their attacks on the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill on global warming science, I rather think that is a net positive for the overall debate because it just leads them to make nutty statements, like Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), who is a leading Member of the disinformed, as this Think Progress repost makes clear:

Last night on Fox News’ Red Eye, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) explained to host Greg Gutfeld why he does not believe that human activity is causing global warming. McCotter, who is the chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee, a GOP group charged with helping Republican lawmakers come up with legislative ideas, has used his global warming denials as a pretense for fighting to block cap-and-trade proposals.

Environmental groups have declared that McCotter is a “Caveman Congressman.” The satirical Caveman Energy Caucus website notes that lawmakers like McCotter have “chosen OLD energy when they voted no” on Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation. Ironically, as he explained his backwards denial of settled climate change science, McCotter cited the experience of his cavemen namesake to note that the melting of glaciers had a positive effect:

MCCOTTER: Remember, the people who talk about the melting of the glaciers and others, imagine if you were in a peninsula around 1,000 BC or so or earlier and your name was Tor and you’re out huntin’ mastodon. And you didn’t notice that the glaciers were melting and leaving the devastating flooding in its wake that became the Great Lakes in the state of Michigan.

So I think what we have to do is go back in history and look at this and realize that the Earth has been here a long time and they’ve selected periods of time and say somehow this proves there’s a manmade global warming occurring is absolutely wrong. We have to look at the different periods of history, we have to look at the different effects, and then we have to have direct empirical data to correlate between man’s activity and the effect on the planet, and that is yet to be proven and highly doubt that it’s going to be any time soon.

McCotter is wrong on several fronts. First, the glacial melt which formed the Great Lakes occurred between a period of 15,000 and 10,000 BC, not 1,000 BC, as McCotter claims. But we do not have to look to the past to see shrinking glaciers. Global warming is currently melting 18,000 Himalayan glaciers “” the largest concentration of glaciers outside the great polar ice sheets. The global trend of melting glaciers has only accelerated, with 2009 marked as the 18th consecutive year glaciers around the world have decreased in size.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has conclusively shown that carbon emissions, caused chiefly by the burning of fossil fuels, are the largest contributor to global warming. If McCotter is interested in what sets this “period in history” apart, he should know that every single year of this century (2001-2008) has been among the top ten warmest years since instrumental records began., of course, the mastodon “became extinct about 10,000 years B.C.,” very possibly because of humans.  If McCotter and his legion of the disinformed have their way, some 40% to 70% of all species will be wiped out, among other catastrophic impacts of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions (see “An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water“).

16 Responses to Congressman McCotter cites experience of cavemen (in 1000 BC!) to deny manmade global warming

  1. Amazing ignorance: to believe that mastodons were still around and the last ice age was ending in 1000 BC.

  2. SecularAnimist says:

    Joe wrote: “The emails may give the anti-scientific ideologues in Congress something new to talk about …”

    I think it is incorrect to characterize them as “anti-scientific ideologues”. What they actually are, is bought-and-paid-for shills for the fossil fuel corporations. They have no actual “ideology” other than naked greed, and they are “anti-science” only if and when science discovers truths that are “inconvenient” for their corporate paymasters, whether those truths have to due with greenhouse gas emissions or cigarette smoke. As for having “something new to talk about”, what they actually have is “a new corporate-sponsored, focus-group-tested, teleprompted script to recite”.

    What is driving the deniers and obstructors is not “ideology”. It is greed.

    [JR: You say tomato…. I think more of them are driven by ideology. If it pays, all the better.]

  3. DavidCOG says:


    > I think it is incorrect to characterize them as “anti-scientific ideologues”.

    I think that is incorrect. ;) There are all shades of Deniers, but many – most in my experience – are ideologues driven by their political and / or religious world view. They reject all science and reality that impinges on it.

    Push a Denier hard enough in a ‘debate’ and they will eventually be backed in to a corner where they claim it’s “arrogant” to believe humans can change the climate – that’s from a religious belief that we can’t damage “god’s creation”. Or they’ll retreat in to political conspiracy – “the socialist world order wants to take away my SUV, 40oz steak and gun”.

    The fact that some of these people are also benefiting financially is incidental. They’d still be denying it for free, but are very happy to receive payment for it.

  4. Eli Snyder says:

    Joe, I think you’re on to something here — this CRUhack email thing could be a huge boon in disguise.

    The deniers are now committing themselves to the position, “global warming is a hoax, so therefore we should not pass climate legislation.”

    If that’s their main objection, then all we have to do is prove that global warming is real (that shouldn’t be too hard, congressional hearings with expert testimony should clear it up easily), and we win the debate! That’s actually much easier than arguing on economic grounds, as the economics is much less well-understood than the science.

  5. David Smith says:

    I think that the biggest threat to our personal and national security and the future of our advancing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, is the group of power hungry, greedy, amoral, self interested @#^&*$*$^, including the one mentioned above. It is not global warming or terrorism that threaten us. It is our own stupidity. And some are much more stupid than others.

  6. Chris Winter says:

    I appreciate your enthusiasm, Eli Snyder. But I think you need to clarify exactly what you mean when you say we only have to “prove that global warming is real.” Don’t you mean “prove to them” (the recalcitrant congresscritters) that it’s real? That won’t be so easily done. And, especially in the Senate, one obstructionist member can readily bollix things up, if only by parliamentary maneuvers.

    Rather, what we need to do is make their obstruction irrelevant. This is where groups like Repower America and 350.0rg come in. Along with blogs like this one, of course.

  7. Zakariah Johnson says:

    Whenever I hear things this uniformed out of the mouths of Congressmen I just shudder. Did the melting glaciers also cause Noah’s flood? Amazing.

  8. SecularAnimist says:

    McCotter and his ilk don’t care whether “global warming is real” or not.

    What they care about is what they are bought and bribed to care about, namely the profits of the corporations who own them.

    There is NO “ideological” reason to question the science of global warming. None whatsoever.

    The fact that obstinate denial of the science of global warming has now become a cornerstone of so-called “conservative ideology” just goes to show that there really is no such thing as a conservative ideology — or more precisely, that so-called “conservative ideology” is an utterly vapid and vacuous fraud, the content of which is just whatever propaganda the rich and powerful corporations of this country feel like paying Rush Limbaugh and Fox News to spoon-feed to the Ditto-Heads.

    If Pepsi decided to pay Rush Limbaugh a hundred million dollars to proclaim that Pepsi is “conservative” and Coca-Cola is “liberal”, he would do it, and all the Ditto-Heads would unquestioningly, slavishly believe it, and would be drinking Pepsi and sneering at “liberal” Coke drinkers on every blog in the world.

    All it takes to get someone like McCotter to change his tune is to pay him a bigger bribe than somebody else is paying him now.

  9. Thor says:

    …its not that you need to prove climate change is real…even the Cavemen above indicated climate change happens…

    …its that you have to conclusively prove that this particular episode of change is caused by Man…

    Much harder case to prove.

  10. Eli Snyder says:

    Chris, I mean we have to prove to enough fence-sitters that legislation could pass. I think there are several congresspeople on the fence on this issue, and they could well be pushed over by a good review of the science.

  11. SecularAnimist says:

    Ideology or greed?

    Let me put it this way.

    What is this supposedly “ideological” reason for obstinate denial of the scientific reality of anthropogenic global warming? I have NEVER heard ANY so-called “conservative” actually spell this out.

    I’ve listened to plenty of self-proclaimed “libertarians” and “conservatives” and I think I have a good sense of what they regard as the principles of their ideology.

    No where in ANY of that libertarian/conservative ideology is there ANY principle that dictates what the scientific reality of ANY empirical question is, or is not.

    The reason that so-called “conservative ideologues” obstinately deny the scientific reality of anthropogenic global warming is NOT because the empirical findings of climate science are contrary to some “ideological” principle.

    They deny the science because it is “inconvenient” to wealthy and powerful corporate interests who have trillions of dollars in profits at stake in continuing business as usual consumption of fossil fuels.

  12. Could McCotter have got his timeline from one of those creationist museums? A sort of Inhofe Effect.

  13. It might be interesting (in the same way that a cancer is interesting to an oncologist) to discover if and to what degree McCotter is connected with &/or has bought into creationist fairy tales. There are certainly good reasons to suppose that anti-scientific dogma in one area bleeds into anti-scientific attitudes in all others.

  14. Congress has the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies that will vet an clear any legislation for monetary impact.

    Clearly it is time for Congress to accept similar rating for science.

    The stakes are high with taxes and budget, why not energy too?

  15. Jason says:

    Duh what a moron, cavemen were around in 10, 000 BC, he obviously didn’t watch the movie ;)

    Fox News is arguably as bad as communist state media with the agendas they pursue on air. Lets have them interview a few more peer-reviewed published scientists instead of politicians on the matter.

  16. Herwig says:


    This is more than an attack on climate science, this is an attack on science in general. Science tends to come with inconvenient answers, answers that don’t fit the agenda of the politicians. This agenda can be religious, ideological, financial or whatever.
    This struggle has existed since the birth of modern science during the renaissance. Just think of the opposition of the church to the Copernican world view.
    But the attack really was geared up by the postmodern relativists, especially after the famous debate between Kuhn and Popper on the philosophy of science (1965?). In this debate Kuhn stated that science can’t provide exact knowledge about the world especially because the results science presents, and even what science chooses to investigate, will always be culturally biased and the results can only be interpreted within the cultural context. Many of these postmodernists hold important jobs at respected universities despite their sometimes extremely bizarre opinions. To give just one example : Luce Irigaray a feminist, philosopher, linguist, psychoanalytic, sociologist and cultural theorist who worked at several european universities stated that Newton’s Principia is a “rape manual” and that Einstein’s E=mc² is a “sexed equation” because “it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us” (no kidding, I suppose “us” means women).
    More importantly the postmodern relativists provided a framework that allows any scientific proposition, pretending to be at least approximately correct, to be shot out of the water. It is within this framework that the dis-informers are operating. I’m not saying that these politicians are postmodernists (whatever that means) but they certainly use the same techniques to cast doubt on any scientific outcome they don’t like.
    Socal and Bricmont wrote an excellent and sometimes hilarious critique on the phenomenon : “Fashionable nonsense”.

    Keep up the good work Joe.