Climate change is happening, humans are the cause, and a shocking number — almost 58 percent — of congressional Republicans refuse to accept it.
161 elected representatives from the 113th Congress have taken over $54 million from the fossil fuel industry that is the driving force behind the carbon emissions that cause climate change. They deny what over 97 percent of climate scientists say is happening — current human activity creates the greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat within the atmosphere and cause climate change. And their constituents are paying the price, with Americans across the nation suffering 401 climate-related national disaster declarations since 2011.
In May, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million for the first time in over 2.5 million years. The International Energy Agency reports that the planet is on track for an increase of 9 degrees Fahrenheit if everyone maintains the status quo. And that, according to Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, has “potentially disastrous implications in terms of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and the huge economic and social costs that these can bring.” In fact, merely delaying action until 2020 will have a staggering net cost of $3.5 trillion.
The United States has already faced many severe climate-related weather events over the past few years. The president has declared 401 climate-related disasters from 2011 to August of 2013. There were a 25 extreme weather events that each caused at least $1 billion in damage, including Superstorm Sandy and overwhelming drought that has covered almost the entire western half of the United States. Combined, these extreme weather events were responsible for 1,107 fatalities and up to $188 billion in economic damages.
Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus and high costs to taxpayers, there are still elected officials in Congress who refuse to accept that climate change is happening.
Over 56 percent — 131 members — of the current Republican caucus in the House of Representatives deny the basic tenets of climate science. 65 percent (30 members) of the Senate Republican caucus also deny climate change. What this means is that they have made public statements indicating that they question or reject that climate change is real, is happening, and is caused by human consumption of fossil fuels.
This refusal to accept overwhelming scientific evidence is not just a symptom of the rank-and-file backbenchers. Members of GOP leadership and the committees that make critical decisions on national energy policy and air pollution have even higher concentrations:
- 90 percent of the Republican leadership in both House and Senate deny climate change
- 17 out of 22 Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, or 77 percent, are climate deniers
- 22 out of 30 Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, or 73 percent deny the reality of climate change
- 100 percent of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans have said climate change is not happening or that humans do not cause it
The campaigns of those who reject the reality of climate science are fueled by the fossil fuel industry that advocate for and drive the emissions that cause global warming.
- The 30 climate deniers in the Senate have taken $21,463,400 in dirty energy contributions while the 70 Senators who haven’t denied the science have only taken $12,637,284 in career contributions. On average, Senate deniers took $715,447 from dirty energy while other Senators took $180,532.
- The 131 climate deniers in the House have taken $32,637,372 in dirty energy contributions while the 302 members who haven’t denied the science have only taken $21,657,259 in career contributions. On average, House deniers took $249,140 from dirty energy while other members took $71,712.
- In total, climate deniers, or 161 members, have taken $54,100,772 in dirty energy contributions while other members, or 372, have taken $34,294,543 in career contributions. On average, deniers took $336,029 from dirty energy while other members and Senators took $92,190.
Some states are sorely suffering the effects of climate change in the form of climate-fueled natural disasters even as their elected representatives take in millions from fossil fuel contributions and reject the reality of climate science:
- 18 members of the Texas congressional delegation deny the reality of climate change. Over their careers, these members have raked in almost $11.3 million from oil, gas, and coal interests. Texas has suffered 58 climate-fueled disaster declarations since 2011.
- More than half of the Oklahoma delegation denies climate change, and together they have received over $2.6 million in fossil fuel money. Since 2011, Oklahomans have borne dozens of disasters worsened by climate change.
- 7 members of the Virginia congressional delegation — more than half — deny climate change and together they pulled in more than $1.3 million from fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal interests. And Virginians have 8 disaster declarations to show for it.
CAP Action War Room conducted a fresh analysis of public statements from current Representatives and Senators from the 113th Congress on climate change. Here is a comprehensive list of those statements, which will be updated regularly.
This post has been updated to reflect new additions to the anti-science climate denier caucus as well as changes in percentages and fossil fuel contributions.