The 2010 campaign season has seen a horde of climate zombies shuffling towards Washington, DC — hundreds of Republican candidates who question the threat of greenhouse pollution as a scientific conspiracy or hoax. A few Democrats have fought back against the Tea Party anti-science wave, making the argument that people who choose oil propaganda over scientific fact might not be the best leaders for this nation. Surveying the races, the Wonk Room has found climate hawks taking a stand for sanity against the climate zombies from coast to coast, including Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY), taking it to their challengers in debates, press conferences, and campaign ads:
– CA-SEN: Barbara Boxer
– CO-SEN: Michael Bennet
– NH-SEN: Paul Hodes
– PA-SEN: Joe Sestak
– WI-SEN: Russ Feingold
– IN-09: Baron Hill
– NY-25: Dan Maffei
– OR-01: David Wu
– RI-01: Dan Cicilline
– MA-GOV: Deval Patrick
– OR-GOV: John Kitzhaber
During the California GOP primary, millionaire executive Carly Fiorina mocked Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) leadership on climate issues as being “worried about the weather” instead of terrorism. Boxer’s campaign quickly responded with a fundraising appeal that reminded voters that global warming is a very real threat to national security:
In Fiorina’s latest ad, she attacks Barbara’s work to reduce the threat of climate change as just being “worried about the weather” and dismisses any connection between climate change and national security. That’s just wrong. Many experts of every political party believe that climate change could pose a serious threat to our nation. That’s one reason why the CIA has established The Center on Climate Change and National Security. Apparently Fiorina has trouble keeping “climate” and “weather” straight — just like her supporter Sarah Palin.
After Republican candidate Ken Buck embraced Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) radical conspiracy theory that “this global warming is the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated,” Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) campaign blasted back:
Ken Buck’s extreme stance on climate change is a threat to Colorado’s economy and could prove cataclysmic for our national security.
During the Republican primary to fill Sen. Judd Gregg’s (R-NH) seat, U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte agreed with her competitors that global warming is a hoax. In September, Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) laid out the consequences of her denial of reality in a post to Daily Kos and Blue New Hampshire:
The bottom line is that Kelly Ayotte has as many doubts about global warming as I have about her ability to stand up to her special interest donors in the oil and coal industry. Global warming is not something this country should be taking lightly. It’s a serious threat not just for our environment, but for the economic livelihood of generations to come. Kelly Ayotte has dismissed global warming and told the Granite State she doesn’t believe that it’s real. I think it’s time we stop denying and instead start applying initiatives to lessen the devastating effects of carbon emissions. It’s no longer optional – it’s absolutely crucial to protect the country we’re trying to leave to our children and our grandchildren.
After ThinkProgress reported that Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said climate science is “still very much disputed, and it’s been debated,” Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) blasted out a press release hitting Toomey for having a “position that puts him in the same camp as fellow Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, but at odds with broad and nearly unanimous scientific consensus”:
This is just the latest example of Congressman Toomey’s refusal to hear perspectives that don’t fit into his own narrow mindset, even if those perspectives are backed by a large volume of credible evidence. But try as he might, Toomey can’t escape from the facts. Pennsylvania needs a public servant dedicated to finding practical solutions to the problems we face, not another closed-minded ideologue bent on insisting that the “world is flat.”
“I’m not going to take a course in Ron Johnson science any time soon,” Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said after his opponent argued that global warming is actually caused by “sunspot activity.” In an October debate, Feingold called Johnson’s know-nothing stance “absolutely irresponsible”:
We do have to do something to make sure the Wisconsin people don’t get ripped off, but at the same time make absolutely sure that we don’t just laugh this off because it’s easier that way. That is absolutely irresponsible with regard to the future of the planet and our children.
Republican state Rep. Todd Young, a signatory of the Americans for Prosperity “No Climate Tax” pledge, has argued that climate science is “a hoax perpetrated by leftist ideologues.” During a debate, Hill overcame scattered jeers from the audience when he accurately responded that the “science is overwhelming”:
The science is overwhelming. There is no question that man is contributing to climate change. No question about it. The science is overwhelming. Look, folks: this is God’s green earth and we ought to respect it. We ought to do what is right for our environment. This bill is what’s right for our environment. This is God’s green earth and we ought to protect it. For years, we have tried to pass legislation and the special interests always bought it out. If this is so bad, why did Ronald Reagan himself do the same thing with sulfur when he was President of the United States? Same cap-and-trade bill. No difference. Same bill. This is not what people have portrayed it to be. It’s the special interests again using their money influence to make sure that their interests are protected and not our environment. [APPLAUSE]
“Rob Cornilles: Climate Zombie.” In a tough press release, the Wu for Congress campaign blasted Rep. David Wu’s (D-OR) Tea Party challenger, Rob Cornilles, for denying reality. “There is absolutely no science that can be proven that man, through our activities, can advance climate change,” Cornilles claimed.
“Rob Cornilles has been paying lip service to the environmental concerns of Oregonians, while privately telling his right-wing friends that he doesn’t believe in man-made climate change,” responded Julia Louise Krahe, Wu for Congress spokesperson:
Not only is he being dishonest with voters, but his dangerous views are clearly at odds with Oregonians’ deep commitment to protecting the environment and preserving our natural heritage. We can’t afford to send a climate zombie like Rob Cornilles to Congress.
In their October 13 debate, Rep. Dan Maffei’s (D-NY) Republican challenger Ann Marie Buerkle claimed “a lot of the global warming myth has been exposed,” saying cap-and-trade policy is “based on some specious global warming.” Maffei blasted back:
We’ve heard Ann Marie Buerkle’s platform: big tax cuts for businesses that go overseas, the wealthiest individuals, and help for the oil companies. Sounds like what we did under Bush. It didn’t work then, and it’s not going to work now. And denying science doesn’t make it any better.
The Maffei campaign is also running an ad that argues Buerkle’s stance on climate science and education threatens upstate New York’s green jobs:
The Republican candidate for Pennsylvania’s Mike Fitzpatrick, co-sponsored cap-and-trade legislation to cut greenhouse pollution in 2006, saying “climate change is one of the largest environmental threats the world faces today,” but now opposes legislation to cut carbon pollution. In a debate on October 14, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) criticized the flip-flop:
The only thing that’s changed with global warming is Mike Fitzpatrick.
After state representative John Loughlin (R-RI) claimed “there is really not a scientific consensus on global warming” in a Rhode Island First Congressional District debate, Providence mayor David Cicilline, the Democratic nominee, shot back:
I believe we have a responsibility to address it and do whatever we can to protect our environment and develop and produce clean energy. I believe it is an opportunity for America to lead the world again in the production and development of clean energy. When Rep. Loughlin is out publicly talking about global climate change, he mocks it, that it’s not serious. This is a serious issue. We have a responsibility to reduce carbon emissions, to address global climate change that is caused by pollution. There is broad scientific consensus on this.
After health insurance executive Charlie Baker, the Republican challenger to Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA), refused to take a position on the science of greenhouse pollution, the Patrick campaign struck back, raising Baker’s stance as a campaign issue. Announcing Patrick’s endorsement by several environmental organizations, the campaign pointed out Baker’s reckless position on global warming:
Charlie Baker has questioned the existence of global warming, and as the Governor pointed out at this morning’s announcement, if you don’t think it exists, you’re not going to do anything about it.
In a gubernatorial debate on September 30, Dudley admitted he doesn’t know if pollution is causing global warming. Democratic candidate John Kitzhaber responded forcefully:
I do believe climate change is human-caused, and it poses an enormous threat to our country and to our nation.
In contrast to the climate hawks above, President Barack Obama has chosen not challenge the denial of climate science by the Republican Party, even when directly asked by the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein. “I think some of the rhetoric you’re hearing on the campaign trail has to do with politics,” Obama said. “The point is that there’s things that we can do short-term on that don’t require you to perfectly agree on the science of climate change in order for you to think that it’s beneficial for Americans long-term.”
Ironically, when it came to discussing the economic budget, Obama stressed that is was important that both Republicans and Democrats are “all working off the same baseline of facts.”