Video: Conservatives laughing and applauding when Obama speaks of “those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change”

Hard to know whether to laugh or cry:

For those actually interested in the overwhelming evidence, a good place to start is this review of the 2009 scientific literature:  “The year climate science caught up with what top scientists have been saying privately for years.”  It ain’t funny, unless you’re into gallows humor.

41 Responses to Video: Conservatives laughing and applauding when Obama speaks of “those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change”

  1. Dennis says:

    The Republican Party’s position of climate change seems to be that if the science does explain everything, then it explains nothing. Imagine if those guys applied that principle to their air travel plans.

  2. Sam says:

    This is really too pathetic for words. Future generations – and by that I mean my children – will look back on these videos with deep disgust for our political leadership.

    Sometimes it feels like the most you can do is just sit back and watch the tragedy as it unfolds.

  3. Neven says:

    Poor, poor Americans…

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    A Problem

    The reaction (shown in the video) is sad, harmful, and illustrative of a major problem.

    Just a few thoughts, for now:

    First, people — it seems many of them — think they are funny and cool and “smart” to ignore science and to not understand it. Ha, Ha! Many people seem to think that the ultimate form of “intelligence” is social smoothness but that it’s fine to be entirely stupid, unwise, and irresponsible in most all other respects.

    It’s fine, apparently, to let your boat sink, and yourself drown, or your kids anyhow, as long as you can entertain the audience, and get them to applaud, on the way down.

    How stupid can you get?

    That said, I think it’s also sad, and harmful, to see that Pelosi and Biden were both also smiling and laughing. Granted, they may have been smiling and laughing at the odd laughter and applause from Republicans in the audience, but the entire thing — the entire spectacle — serves to convey to the American People some sense that the whole thing is a game of sorts.

    I think that MOST people in politics really DON’T get it, and that includes many Democrats as well as (apparently) the vast majority of Republicans.

    Also, once again, the MEDIA share a large responsibility for this. I’ll bet, if you asked The New York Times today, they’d say that they are very concerned about climate change and that they are (in their view) doing a good and responsible job of covering it. Yet, THE TRUTH IS, any analysis of The New York Times’ coverage of climate change over the last two years will CLEARLY show how much they haven’t run things that could have cleared up much of this “who knows?” silly attitude that too many people get away with. The New York Times did not cover the letter from 17 scientific organizations to the Senate late last year. It hasn’t covered, on the front page, the up-to-date list of all the scientific organizations that say, clearly, the climate change is very real and highly problematic. And, The Times hasn’t covered many other things that could have, and should have, added a great deal of clarity to the public’s understanding.

    There are many, many, many people who should be ashamed right now — so much so that they should be feeling like hiding under rocks at this point.

    But going back to the laughter — someone ought to ask Biden and Pelosi why they were laughing and whether they realize what sort of impact that ultimately has.

    This is no game.

    Be Well,


  5. Dennis says:

    Oops — meanth to write ” if the science does NOT explain everything”

  6. Dano says:

    Surely there will be debates in the future about whether these clowns were evil, deluded, or just humans acting greedy.



  7. Brian D says:

    Can we tell from the video who was laughing? If someone had mentioned the similar overwhelming evidence against moon-landing-hoaxers, the laugher would be positive and coming from the right crowd.

    (That said, I missed the speech; if other camera angles show it’s the R side of the aisle that’s laughing, this objection’s withdrawn.)

  8. RyanT says:

    I was thinking that was a very good example of mass delusion. Probably reinforced by trumped up charges of scientific malfeasance and too much exposure to no-nothing media blowhards.

  9. Dano says:

    Let them laugh…it just illustrates their stupidity and lack of concern for human and environmental welfare. But that is nothing new. This doesn’t mean anything important and is not new. The vast majority of Republicans have always been and will likely always be against meaningful, politically-traversable climate legislation, which the Democrats have yet to come up with.

  10. Jade in San Francisco says:

    Typical Republican b.s. Show them no quarter.

  11. Jay Alt says:

    I laughed at the way ‘overwhelming’ was slipped in, as did Biden. But that’s okay, I’m already mad.

  12. Mark Carroll says:

    “If somebody wants to build a coal power plant they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” Barack Obama said to the San Francisco Chronicle in January.

  13. PSU Grad says:

    “First, people — it seems many of them — think they are funny and cool and “smart” to ignore science and to not understand it.”

    Maybe in the U.S., but not elsewhere. Several years ago my wife worked with a man from India who was here on a special assignment. He brought his family, and ended up sending his son to a special math class. The problem wasn’t that his son needed help with the math taught in school, the problem was that the parents didn’t feel the math being taught in school was advanced and/or rigorous enough for their son.

    I think it’s always been a truism that the “geeks” get picked on, but the space race and the advances in computing technologies seemed to put that in abeyance. But now I’m seeing bumper stickers that read “My dog is smarter than your honor student”. It’s almost becoming a badge of honor among some to be ignorant of science and math. Meanwhile, everyone wants to be the next “master of the universe” on Wall Street. Or the next star on “American Idol”. Or the next reality show star (see the balloon boy parents and White House party crashers).

    But you know what’s really sad? When the effects of global warming become so evident that no sane person can deny what’s happening, people will then ask “why didn’t anyone warn us”?

  14. anniversary says:

    Well the title is misleading. I think there is a preassure on all of us, when it comes to this very topic. Though when the president speaks out, the preassure was released. Which does not mean directly that they were laughing at him.

  15. Robert says:

    In my view, that laughter was nothing more than a form of tension release and the ‘OMG – How Stupid Can They Be’ reaction to those Repugnuts who won’t see Climate Change until the Arctic Ice is gone throughout the winter. To be accepted into the Grand ‘OLD’ Party, one must drink deeply at the party Cool Aid Trough! Sad how politics blinds the minds of some! Their Lock Step Mentality was show as they fervently sat on their hands, daring not to applaud without the taciturn approval of their lemming like leaders. The sad point is that a bitter revenge will be dealt out to all those who choose their path to oblivion! The NOPe [GOP] will implode as the world wakes up to the reality of Global Warming.
    The point that many don’t want to remember is the Tipping Point issue. It becomes too easy for some to accept the science and yet reject ‘TPs’ as folly. We are spoiled by a blue/green world in America but that could change! The Age OF Stupid must be replaced by the Age of the Sustainable Lifestyle, wherein mankind works within the Laws of Nature instead of against Nature. The abundance of the land will sustain life if we allow it to happen. Those who willingly spin the Science are the real polluters. They care not a wit as to how they win! Oh what shame they visit on our children! It should be a crime to knowingly repeat a lie!

  16. Ben Lieberman says:

    Yes, it’s another remarkable display of embracing ignorance, but it’s also time for environmental organizations to start to think about how to break apart the deniers and convince some of them. For example, why do deniers deny? It would be useful to know if there is one basic group of deniers or several. If there are several differnt groups who deny, what factors underly denial in the different casese? Finally, what measures would be most effective in convicinign some of these groups of the scientific reality? This agenda would require some research invovling both surveys and focus groups, and I hope that some environmental group takes up this task.

  17. Joe Sortais says:

    Is Obama pandering for Republican votes or does he really think that “clean coal” isn’t an oxymoron?

    Joe Sortais

  18. James Newberry says:

    Coal and petroleum fluids mined from the Earth are not actually “energy resources,” but material resources. Set unearthed sequestered carbon on fire and you revert the ecosphere to conditions of a past geologic age when seven million cubic miles of polar land ice did not exist (they are headed our way). Climate science indicates this. CO2 is carbonic acid gas, and “natural gas” is methane, which is a much stronger radiative forcing gas (in the short term).

    The global oil party (GOP) is the lead political defender of the indefensible, but they are bought and owned by Big Money Everything. All mainstream media, politics and even emission reduction scenarios are becoming irrelevent. Look for the quarter trillion dollar per year subsidized global “fuels for fools” industries to ramp up their multi-billion dollar pervasive propaganda campaign, especially thanks to the oil friendly ex-president’s selections for the US Supreme Court (of Irony). We pay for their propaganda through business expensing.

    Where is my nuclear bailout bucket?

  19. mike roddy says:

    Laughter is an involuntary response, which tells me something troubling: Congressmen actually believe the deniers, and their spokesmen like Rush Limbaugh and George Will. All it takes is a trumped up “gotcha” (Climategate) or bad science (Watts and Pielke’s weather station project)to reinforce the lies they have been fed by the right wing media. So whatever their motivations, it is clear that about a third of our Congressmen are idiots.

    Educating them is no easy task, since they watch Fox and read WSJ, and don’t pay attention to blogs like this one.

    The deniers are everywhere, and are gaining strength, based on the latest polls. I went to the annual University of Washington faculty lecture last night, and after Dr. Ward’s speech a denier raised her hand for a question and ended up droning on incoherently with the whole denier oeuvre, while the audience (largely faculty) politely squirmed.

    Time to go on offense. Exhibit A: Anthony Watts, one of their champions, was just completely humiliated over his weather stations photo project. Turns out there’s a cooling bias. Scientists bent over backwards to thank Watts for raising the issue, instead of calling him the charlatan that he has always been. This isn’t politeness, it’s cowardice.

    I’ts going to get rough. Scientists need to be prepared to lead and to fight as well as educate. You’re a good role model, Joe, but we need a lot more more like you.

  20. Doug Bostrom says:

    Dennis says: January 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    “First, people — it seems many of them — think they are funny and cool and “smart” to ignore science and to not understand it. Ha, Ha! Many people seem to think that the ultimate form of “intelligence” is social smoothness but that it’s fine to be entirely stupid, unwise, and irresponsible in most all other respects.”

    The GOP seems to imagine national governance as some sort of struggle for social position on the same level of importance as vying for the title of Homecoming Queen. Sophomoric and shallow. Their lack of serious intent is conspicuously infantile.

  21. David B. Benson says:


  22. Sean says:

    I agree.

  23. espiritwater says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why they were laughing?!! They aren’t that stupid are they?!!

  24. Cedric Pratt says:

    Obama is now supporting nuclear power. The Bush’s were successful with nuclear aircraft carriers. Now we can get modern on land. Safe and clean

  25. blsdaniel says:

    The stupidty I’m amazed at is what’s being written here.

    If you actually bother to watch the video, you’ll see that both Pelosi and Biden, Democrats last time I checked, are some of the ones doing the laughing.

    Take a deep breath and let yourself realize that you don’t know who is doing the laughing or why. Yes, there’s actually something you don’t know!

    On second thought, don’t bother. Just keep assuming that, contrary to the evidence of your own eyes, that it’s only stupid Republicans engaging in stupid laughter for stupid reasons. It’s just so much easier that doing the hard work of coming up with a rational basis for what you claim to know.

  26. espiritwater says:

    Robert, you said it all so correctly. Oh, what a shame they visit to our children!

  27. Lore says:

    I wish I could also use the old adage that, “he who laughs last, laughs best“, but as indicative of this response from what is supposedly the protectors of our national security, it’s becoming increasing clear that there will be few of us left to even give a slight grimace.

  28. Richard Brenne says:

    Last night hearing the speech and laughter I immediately realized that this was the effect of Watts’ and Fox’ propagandizing against science.

    In many other areas like the economy and health care it often appears that Obama is the only adult in a room full of spoiled, whiny brats.

    I’d like him to adopt that demeanor here and in the next such instance, and Biden and Pelosi as well. It was odd to see all three on camera kind of chortling at the Republicans’ derisive laughter.

    When Biden or anyone else in his administration misspeaks in Obama’s presence, look at the look that Obama gives them. It can be a laser of focused rebuke and discipline, and he needed to do that in this instance and needs to do it in all future instances like it.

    An appropriate response would have been something like this:


    “Why you are laughing at the work of thousands of dedicated scientists over many decades is troubling. If you believe you know more than they do, then let’s see your evidence through the scientific process.

    If you don’t have such evidence, then what you are doing is so ignorant and arrogant as to be pathetic.

    The overwhelming evidence of the science is comparable to that of the link between smoking and cancer. If you or a loved one needed heart or brain surgery, wouldn’t you want to go to the most highly-regarded surgeon drawing on the best and latest scientific evidence?

    Would you rather go to a dentist or veterinarian or somebody speaking on a website or radio or TV talk show? If you would, then good luck with that. But don’t argue to make a fatal decision fatal for all of us.

    Future generations won’t be laughing, they’ll be suffering unimaginably for our willful and wanton ignorance of the science and refusal to appropriately change our behavior. They’ll regard us as worse than we regard slaveowners today. So let your derisive laughter at the fate of all future generations echo through this hallowed chamber, and maybe it, in some way, can penetrate the hearts and minds of those deciding the fate of future generations where words and reason have thus far failed.”

    (Obama exits to stunned silence and does not return)

  29. Leif says:

    Richard Brenne: Right on!


  30. Dano says:

    I, personally, don’t think the minority party is stocked with mouth-breathing morons who disbelieve scientists and their findings. They, simply, are beholden to Fossil Fool money and ideology and look for any excuse to justify it, and the gullible duped apologists or plants like @25 are the Message Force Multipliers carrying the message.



  31. Jeff Huggins says:

    Richard Brenne (Comment 28):

    I agree with you, Richard. Well put.

    A big part of the malaise (of the public) and inability to act wisely has to do with all the “winking” going on and all the deceptions and lies that AREN’T called out. In the (misunderstood and misapplied) name of “civility”, politicians and many other leaders let stuff “pass” that is ultimately incredibly damaging to civilization.

    President Obama should start calling rocks rocks, science science, good ideas good ideas, and lies lies. He should be willing to be HUMAN and to point out when an emperor has no clothes. Indeed, he has no choice, in the end. If he doesn’t point out emperors with no clothes, then he will soon be seen as an emperor with no clothes himself. Why? Because nature and science aren’t fooling, and those of us who understand that know that letting BS pass for truth (or even winking at it) won’t work.

    I think that Obama should make sure that he understands the science himself, should make sure that he always has his excellent scientific advisors near him when he makes these important speeches, and should respond to such situations (as the clapping and laughter last night) directly and confidently. If he needs to pause in a State of the Union speech in order to offer a “teachable moment” on climate change, SO BE IT. That sort of thing would show seriousness.

    I hope Obama (or his folks) read your idea, Richard, and begin to understand how they should respond to the BS.

    Joe, perhaps you could all them and tell them?!



  32. Chris Winter says:

    Richard (and Jeff):

    I believe there will come a time, not too far in the future, when President Obama will say something very similar to that to the Republicans who try to block a climate bill.

    As for those anti-science Republicans that might have laughed at the line, I’ll bet that with their next breath came the thought, “Wait… What?”

    The President snuck one in on them. It’s a little like saying, “I know there are those in this chamber who think they can match the overwhelming strength of Hulk Hogan…”

  33. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    “First, people — it seems many of them — think they are funny and cool and “smart” to ignore science and to not understand it.”

    As Charles Pierce says in his book Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, when everyone is an ‘expert’ then the worst thing you can be is, well, an actual expert. (paraphrased from memory)

    Joe, thanks for posting the link to the year in climate science. I somehow missed that post first time you posted it. Great stuff!

  34. jyyh says:

    One for a time-capsuled back-up drive.

  35. Dave Willis says:

    Richard Brenne, Jeff Huggins : Well said.
    It’s no laughing matter – need to grab any teachable moment.

  36. Joe Sortais says:

    Its interesting that there are increasingly more Christian evangelical conservatives who now recognize that climate change is an issue of morality for the effect on the earth and future generations, more than a political issue. Yes, there is HOPE!
    Joe Sortais

  37. fj1 says:

    #28. Richard Brenne,

    Full agreement. The president must start an extensive public education campaign.

    Special interest groups are completely undermining the ability of this country to operate effectively. People are dying because of this. And, it is a very dangerous situation.

    Military expert testimony must be widely disseminated to describe the dangerous effects of how global warming is causing failed states and accelerating worldwide political instability.

    American industry’s exposure to litigation more extensive than for asbestos of those industries directly causiing global warming.

    The types of companies in industries that must report to shareholders extensive exposure in the climate change crisis: an extreme economic emergency in the making; describe what happened in the case of asbestos which is ongoing and extremely minor in comparison; relate to current economic crisis.

    How we must further explore the concept of “too big to fail” and seek to provide immediate remedy to minimize the pain of inevitable dramatic change.

    Present existing and the potential for broad positive change if we act immediately and with intelligence.

    Declare an emergency, challenge directly those who would undermine immediate action, and realign this country accordingly to fully address this emergency.

  38. Dano says:

    Its interesting that there are increasingly more Christian evangelical conservatives who now recognize that climate change is an issue of morality for the effect on the earth and future generations, more than a political issue. Yes, there is HOPE!

    Apparently they are no longer skipping over Revelations 7:3. Who knows what else they will stop skipping over??



  39. fj1 says:

    It would be to dramatic effect showing all those Republicans laughing at the idea of global warming over images in China and around the world of massive ramping up to build clean energy infrastuctures; streets and squares packed with cyclists as in China.

  40. Zephaniah says:

    PLEASE WRITE to OBAMA, BIDEN & PELOSI and tell them what you think of the fact that they smiled and laughed when elected officials clapped to show their ignorance of climate change.
    This is what I wrote.
    “Climate change is no laughing matter. It killed 315,000 people in 2008 from related hunger, sickness and weather and it cost the world $125 billion per year in damages in 2008, expected to increase to $340 billion /year by 2030 according to the Global Humanitarian Forum.
    The United States, which sent up a third of the greenhouse gases causing the unstable climate, has passed NO law mandating carbon reduction. We continue to encourage use of fossil fuel with over $12 billion a year in subsidies, not counting what it costs us to maintain access to oil in the Near East.
    Solar, wind and geothermal could decentralize energy, reduce its expense, revitalize our economy and give us security if our government could stop catering to fossil fuel and nuclear financial interests. Please find the courage to teach the American public the facts and lead us to a solution that prevents catastrophe for future generations.

  41. Robin Gilbert says:

    I squirmed with embarrassment when I saw this on tv and again on your website. What fools! And they receive my taxes to act in such a manner.