Flashback: John Boehner says on ABC: The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.

Now that John Boehner has become Speaker of the House, it’s worth reposting an extended interview he gave on the subject of energy and climate in April 2009.

Boehner is a traditional anti-science conservative — or at least traditional in this country (see “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”).

His exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos (transcript here, reprinted below) is notable for his utter lack of understanding of even the basics of the climate issue.  Boehner said:

George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide

Almost comical?  How about completely tragic? most powerful Republican in the country, the man who is next in line to be president should something happen to both Obama and Biden, thinks this debate is about whether carbon dioxide is a carcinogen?  And thinks carcinogens harm the environment, rather than people?  And thinks that cows are of concern because they produce carbon dioxide, rather than methane?

Anti-science, pro-polllution conservatives are now the cement shoes on the American people, pulling us down into the ocean hot, acidic dead zone.

Not only do we learn here that Boehner is utterly ignorant of climate basics.  We also see how he contradicts himself repeatedly in an effort to push out all the standard conservative disinformer talking points on global warming.

On the one hand, carbon dioxide is something we exhale, not something harmful to the environment, but on the other hand, we can only solve this “problem” as one nation, if we “work with other industrialized nations around the world.”

But if it’s not a problem caused by humans, then how could humans possibly solve it whether we work with other countries are not?  That’s the beauty of not caring about science or logic.  You can spew out all of your disinformation, and different pieces that can stick to different people.

Here is the entire exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you then about energy. We showed your statement on the president’s decision through the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. Also, you’ve come out against the president’s proposal to cap-and-trade carbon emissions.

So what is the Republican answer to climate change? Is it a problem? Do you have a plan to address it?

BOEHNER: George, we believe that our “” all of the above energy strategy from last year continues to be the right approach on energy. That we ought to make sure that we have new sources of energy, green energy, but we need nuclear energy, we need other types of alternatives, and, yes, we need American-made oil and gas.

It bears repeating that conservatives have always bitterly opposed Congressional efforts to boost green energy (see “Hill conservatives reject all 3 climate strategies“).  Indeed, even “moderate” conservatives like John McCain and Judd Gregg have always opposed even the mildest of green energy mandates “” a national requirement that utilities get a fraction of their power from renewable energy, a requirement that half the states and every major European Union member country has (see “The greenwasher from Arizona has a record as dirty as the denier from Oklahoma“).

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that doesn’t do anything when it comes to emissions, sir.

BOEHNER: When it comes to the issue of climate change, George, it’s pretty clear that if we don’t work with other industrialized nations around the world, what’s going to happen is that we’re going to ship millions of American jobs overseas. We have to deal with this in a responsible way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what is the responsible way? That’s my question. What is the Republican plan to deal with carbon emissions, which every major scientific organization has said is contributing to climate change?

BOEHNER: George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide. And so I think it’s clear”¦

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don’t believe that greenhouse gases are a problem in creating climate change?

BOEHNER: “¦ we’ve had climate change over the last 100 years “” listen, it’s clear we’ve had change in our climate. The question is how much does man have to do with it, and what is the proper way to deal with this? We can’t do it alone as one nation. If we got India, China and other industrialized countries not working with us, all we’re going to do is ship millions of American jobs overseas.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it sounds like from what you’re saying that you don’t believe that Republicans need to come up with a plan to control carbon emissions? You’re suggesting it’s not that big of a problem, even though the scientific consensus is that it has contributed to the climate change.

BOEHNER: I think it is “” I think it is an issue. The question is, what is the proper answer and the responsible answer?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what is the answer? That’s what I’m trying to get at.

BOEHNER: George, I think everyone in America is looking for the proper answer. We don’t want to raise taxes, $1.5 to $2 trillion like the administration is proposing, and we don’t want to ship millions of American jobs overseas. And so we’ve got to find ways to work toward this solution to this problem without risking the future for our kids and grandkids.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you are committed to coming up with a plan?

BOEHNER: I think you’ll see a plan from us. Just like you’ve seen a plan from us on the stimulus bill and a better plan on the budget.

Yeah, the GOP will have a plan to deal with global warming.  Just like they did on the stimulus.

I must say the most pathetic thing about this interview is his claim that the GOP approach is the one that isn’t “risking the future for our kids and grandkids.”  Not (see House GOP pledge to fight all action on climate. “Why do conservatives hate your children?”).

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34 Responses to Flashback: John Boehner says on ABC: The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.

  1. Scott says:

    Boehner presents himself as a devote Catholic.
    I think it is worth pointing out that his postion is in conflict with the conclusions of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Climate Covenant’s St. Francis Pledge.

    I wish someone would ask him to respond to the conclusions of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

  2. Sou says:

    Politicians do the same thing where I live, dream up a catch phrase and use it as much as possible to hide their ignorance or avoid having to tell the public what’s really going on.

    Down here they try out various catch phrases with focus groups. If it ‘sticks’ they use it to death. The current zombie phrase in your part of the world is “ship millions of American jobs overseas” – I expect that phrase is used to avoid discussing a myriad of other issues as well as avoiding discussion of climate change.

    Down here for a couple of years, every labor politician had to use the words “working families” at least once in every sentence (alienating only about 50% of the adult population), (the liberals used ‘a great big tax’); to be replaced by “reform” the following year. (It has never been specified what is to be reformed. The focus groups must have liked the word).

    It’s dumbing down the dumb for the 30 second television grab. And treating the public like mushrooms – keeping them in the dark and feeding them manure (another word is used when speaking).

  3. Mike says:

    To be fair to Rep. Boehner his statement regarding CO2 being thought to be a carcinogen may have just been a gaff like Al Gore’s statement that the core of the Earth is millions of degrees. Gore quickly issued a correction. Has Boehner? I searched his new web site and the web and haven’t found a correction from Boehner. But, I also have not found any other instances of him linking CO2 and cancer risk. That he is ignorant on climate science is abundantly clear however.

  4. Wes Rolley says:

    It would be a mistake to underestimate the degree to which many in this country believe that the EPA and the ESA are ample evidence of our move toward a feared “socialism” and an invasion of our individual rights. Given the economic uncertainty at this present time, cutting “excessive regulation” to protect property rights and preserve American jobs is a powerful meme. It just happens to also be one that is easy for corporate PR hacks to use this to continue the status quo.

    If we learned anything about corporate culture in the past 4 years, it should be that it is a mistake to believe that corporations will act in their long term best interest. Had they done so, we would not have had to learn about credit default swaps.

    Even living in the relatively liberal Bay Area of California, I continually here the anti-regulation theme echoed by politicians, chambers of commerce, business association and filling the letters to the editors / comment threads in every local newspaper.

    This meme must be resisted at the local level, at every opportunity. If we do this, the ever fearful of being voted out of office congress critters will begin to listen.

  5. George Ennis says:

    First Solar Inc. a U.S. company said Wednesday it wants to start construction this year one of the world’s biggest solar power plants, unfortunately that plant will be in China.

    China Guangdong Nuclear Solar Energy Development Co. will become the majority partner in the facility’s first phase in the city of Ordos, First Solar said. Executives said ownership stakes, financing and other details still were being negotiated.

    Plans call for two gigawatts, or 2 billion watts, of generating capacity — the equivalent of two coal-fired plants — covering 64 square kilometres (25 square miles) to be built in stages through 2020. The first stage is 30 megawatts.

  6. _Flin_ says:

    I wanted to comment. Really.
    But at
    “And so we’ve got to find ways to work toward this solution to this problem without risking the future for our kids and grandkids.”
    my head exploded.
    Do I don’t.

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    George Ennis, eSolar of Pasadena also has a 2 gw deal with China. First and e may have developed the most advanced thin film and thermal systems in the world, and have been thwarted by fake green groups fronting for the oil companies here in the Southwest. Recently a tribe was manipulated to successfully bring a court action halting 6 big solar plants in the American desert by falsely claiming intrusion on sacred sites- on flat hardpan and creosote habitat!

    The Chinese will not only get the specs, they will learn from deployment. This is tragic for the US, which has provided the Chinese with a cheap opportunity to exploit US R&D due to our corrupt and dysfunctional government.

    As for Boehner, I don’t see him as a political leader at all, but as a pomaded, tanning salon bronzed business puppet. If he cared about “shipping jobs overseas” he wouldn’t have given free rein via unregulated capital and trade agreements to all of the US companies who have been doing so for the last decade. That’s just a talking point fed to him by the Republican spinmeisters, as with the lie about the trillion dollar costs. And Boehner fails to mention that renewable power plants are much more labor intensive to build than coal and gas facilities, providing much needed jobs.

  8. We have a problem with a political system that nurtures such bone heads like Boehner. Even removing him, there are hundreds more politicians who feel encouraged to spew anti-scientific babble. What a waste.

  9. Ed Hummel says:

    Mike Roddy #6, good description of the real John Boehner!

  10. Ed Hummel says:

    Sorry, Mike Roddy #7, good description of the real John Boehner!

  11. _Flin_ says:

    Oh, and one more word: Thanks, USA, and especially thanks to the GOP and Mr Boehner, for shipping millions of jobs oversea.

    Over here in Germany we really do appreciate all those PV-jobs and wind-energy jobs and geothermal jobs and biogas jobs, and the indirect jobs created by those jobs as well, and the taxes that are paid with all these jobs, and the additional social security, health care and retirement payments made with these jobs.

    This guy is really funny, everytime he says something, the exact opposite is true. Well, except for the carcinogen part, which is comical, indeed. The harmful part, not so much.

  12. Chad says:

    Boehner clearly suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect, which basically is the idea that the ignorant are far more sure of themselves than is warranted by their pathetic knowledge.

  13. Leif says:

    Guess who is buying up all of our scrap steel, aluminum and other metals to build those solar and wind farms. Originally mined here, raw ore processed here, and then shipped to China for pennies on the dollar invested to be heated and rolled to green energy production facilities. Further lowering deployment costs.

  14. George Ennis says:

    @Mike Roddy #7

    I think to be fair I think we have to acknowledge that John Boehner does see a future of jobs in green technology, in China.

  15. alexy says:

    Over the holidays I spoke with multiple people about climate change, people with whom I don’t regularly speak. In a nutshell, these conversations largely confirm that Boehner does “represent us”. For example, in speaking with a 40 something with some college and her own business I discovered she had no understanding of the American Dust Bowl. (Actually, she claimed not to have heard of it.)

    Another conversation was with a recent graduate with a degree in science (biology) from a prestigious Northeast institution and a job with a multinational technology company. He: never heard of the IPCC as such; when explained, he recalled that the results published by the IPCC “were proven to be contrived”; was concerned that action to control climate change would prevent him from purchasing one of the least efficient SUVs; etc.

    I could go on.

    We have a very long way to go before climate change is understood and accepted.

  16. Wes Rolley says:

    I am surprised the Boehner and the rest of the House Republicans have not recognized that driving down the price of oil is the key to continued economic recovery, since the current high price of oil is considered such a threat by the IEA.

    It is just one more nail crucifying carbon price regulation. Lower prices => more oil => continued recovery => faster demise. Makes sense to the all regulation is bad crowd. I expect a Darrell Issa press release momentarily.

  17. Robbert says:

    Boehner isn’t ignorant; he is ‘willfully’ ignorant. What I’m trying to say is that these Pollute-o-crats know better but they are totally corrupted by their paymasters … Fossil Fuel. They aptly earn the “Anti-science, pro-pollution Conservative title but in truth Anti Science, Pro-pollution Con is the better description. Their message can’t stand the light of day. If they choose to deny the Science they can always turn to Astrology for answers. They are utterly bankrupt and corrupted in their madness. Joe’s Climate Progress blog must be mentioned often as there are people with open minds that will listen to cold and calm logic. The Science is proven but the Spin-lies designed to deceive to novice continue. Many people appear comforted by their ignorance … it’s so sad!

  18. Barry says:

    A great thing about Joe’s posts like this is that it hauls these future-destroyers onto the stage and shines a bright spotlight on them. No hiding from responsibility for the future they are unleashing.

    The GOP must know that climate change will just accelerate into ever increasing misery for Americans thanks to their own statements and relentless efforts to prevent any regulation or pricing on fossil fuel pollution.

    As long as they think they can “ditch and cover” to avoid the wrath of deceived and desperate folks in the future…the GOP will continue unfettered towards short-term greed.

    Maybe what we need is a website dedicated to putting people on record for their statements these days. Hansen did exactly this in his book, comparing statements by Lindzen to his for posterity to judge.

    Perhaps a “truth and reconciliation” website that features quotes from powerful voices on both sides and gives the people profiled a chance to state clearly what they current position is. That might force a bit of honesty from the GOP and denier crowd.

  19. Jim Groom says:

    John Boehner cry me a river as I will certainly cry a river over you and the belief system you and your cronies will be pushing the next couple of years. We are so screwed.

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    Bad News

    Republican John Boehner got enough votes on Wednesday to become the new speaker of the House of Representatives, replacing Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

    People like Boener threaten the survival of the species.

  21. Colorado Bob says:

    Climate Change Deniers on a Roll

    The incoming House Energy chairman is a “work in progress” on global warming, reports.

    Michigan Rep. Fred Upton once described it as “a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions” but he took that statement off his website and now says that he is “not convinced” that “carbon is a problem in need of regulation.” For starters, this puts him firmly on the side of blocking EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.

  22. Frank Zaski says:

    If CO2 doesn’t concern Boehner, than the DECLINING OXYGEN LEVEL SHOULD concern him and the conservatives.

    According to a Scripps Institute study, “The conclusion of that 20 year study is that, as carbon dioxide (produced primarily by burning fossil fuels) accumulates in the atmosphere, available oxygen is decreasing.”

    Declining oxygen levels might be the motivation for conservatives to act. It would seem a simple argument to convey that oxygen levels are declining because creating CO2 take one atom of carbon, But TWO atoms of oxygen. It would stand to reason that burning fossil fuel at a rapid rate and destroying rain forests even faster leads to less O in the atmosphere.

    I wouldn’t go so far as project breathing problems for the sick and weak and Peruvian mountain men chests fro the rest of us, but, scientists should make a statement of what 450 ppm would do to our O supply and human health.

  23. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Where did this idea that CO2 is a carcinogen originate? Who was the first to use this silly talking point?

  24. Some European says:

    Peter Sinclair’s brilliant video:

    My humble repost of the interview:

    Let’s not forget how depressed we all were around Nov 2nd. Let’s not get used to the situation, however surreal. We still are totally screwed.
    The solution? Keep shining the light on those who pay for it.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    When did ‘Boner’ become ‘Beaner’? As for his symbolic role, I once imagined that ‘kakistocracy’ (rule by the worst) summed up extremist Rightist, market fundamentalist and neo-feudalist regimes best, but ‘geloiocracy’ rule by the ridiculous now seems even better. I must say that you Yanks seem to have the cream of the crop, ‘though. Our Dunning-Krugerites, inside politics and in the rabble, are breathtakingly stupid and increasingly and menacingly belligerent, but they must defer to yours. Of course our Rightwing parties worship and seek to emulate yours so, like the UK Tories, we are always on a slow motion treadmill to imbecility and moral insanity, as each new low in US politics is slavishly copied by our own ‘geloiocrats’.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    On the question of CO2 as a carcinogen, I think this might be an example of what Muhammad Ali often said, that is ‘You (Boehner) ain’t as dumb as you look’. I’d say that this could be a subtle disinformation effort, planting the idea in the Dunning-Krugerites that the evil climate communists have asserted that CO2 is a carcinogen, when we really clever people know that that is just more ‘alarmist scaremongering’. The denialists are expert at twisting the historical record, false attribution and selective memory loss, so turning this imbecility against science will be a doddle.

  27. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    As far as I know I was the first to suggest Carbon Tarriffs. When I suggested it in a comment on a Climate Progress blog, it was a comment on how to deal with countries that won’t play ball. Never did I think that it would be applicable for other countries to apply it to the USA.

    Not so sure now.

  28. Paulm says:

    This would be funny, sorry, comical, if it weren’t so serious.

    What can one say, speechless.

  29. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    CO2 has been declared by the supreme court to be a “pollutant” harmful to the health of humans. In the popular press chemical “pollutants” are usually potrayed as cancer-causing agents.

    It will probably be mentioned to him by one of fhis aides that CO2 is not a carcinogen so he won’t make this mistake again.

  30. Chad says:

    If he needs an aide to tell him this at this late stage, he is clearly too uninformed or too stupid to be running the local PTA, let alone the House.

  31. Chris Winter says:

    Mulga Mumblebrain wrote (approximately): “When did ‘Boner’ become ‘Baener’?”

    It’s evident that the Tan Man rejects the proper pronunciation in order to avoid the obvious negative connotation it has when spoken. I find this unfortunate, but console myself with the thought of “baner” — one who puts a bane, a serious hurt, on others.

  32. Mike Roddy says:

    Let’s just say that all of the Republican leaders get a boehner when the oil companies flash money at them.

  33. cracker jack says:

    Boehner was much to long in the tanning booth, his brain got tanned too !