New Report Shows Remarkable ‘Climate Disconnect’ In House GOP Voting Record

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) (Credit: AP Photo)

While President Obama’s climate hawkishness is growing, climate change denialism remains a big problem in the U.S. Congress, especially among the GOP. That denialism doesn’t just threaten the nation as a whole, it represents a remarkable detachment from the experiences of the very voters and communities those House members represent.

A new report released by the office of Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA) — the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — found a substantial “climate disconnect” between the House GOP’s voting record and the soaring temperatures its constituents experience last year.

The report went through the 2012 daily temperature records for approximately 4,000 individual stations nationwide, then compared the records for each congressional district with the various climate-related votes taken by their member. Fifty-three votes were looked at in all, including an attempt to overrule the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finding that climate change threatens human health and welfare, a vote to prevent EPA from regulating carbon emissions, a vote to prevent United States participation in international climate negotiations, and even a vote to cut funding for basic climate science.

In the end, Republican representatives from the districts hardest hit by higher temperatures took the anti-climate position on those votes 96 percent of the time. By contrast, House Democrats from the most-affected districts took the pro-climate stance 86 percent of the time.

The report slices the data in several ways, but perhaps the most illustrative is the ratio of record high temperatures recorded in a district to record low temperatures. Nationwide, that ratio was 5:1. But in some districts it was much higher. In the ten districts with the highest ratios represented by a Republican, those representatives took the anti-climate position 92 percent of the time overall.

(Credit: Minority Staff Report, House Committee on Energy and Commerce)

By contrast, the districts with the ten highest ratios represented by Democrats saw their congressperson take the pro-climate stance 96 percent of the time overall, and none of the Democratic members took the anti-climate position more than half the time.

The report also produced an interactive map that gives the temperature information for any given congressional district, along with the voting record of its representative.

This denialism comes with consequences. The United States remains the world’s number one subsidizer of fossil fuels because our policies fail to account for the realities of how carbon emissions affect climate change. The resulting rise in temperatures from human-driven global warming are helping to produce near-historic droughts throughout the Western United States, threatening the long-term sustainability of our food production and our supply of fresh water. In fact, the international reinsurance giant Swiss Re released a report in March that 2012 — the hottest year on record for the lower 48 states — saw the United States suffer $119 billion in economic losses due to extreme weather, far more than any other country.

14 Responses to New Report Shows Remarkable ‘Climate Disconnect’ In House GOP Voting Record

  1. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Lovely correlations and fascinating contradictions for politicians who claim to value private enterprise and money. Look at the costs of climate change. But I suppose that feathering one’s own nest could be considered a form of private enterprise, ME

  2. M Tucker says:

    “it represents a remarkable detachment from the experiences of the very voters and communities those House members represent.”

    But the people in those states who elect those representatives DO NOT link the weather to anything that humans are doing. You need to understand that those people just look at it as natural variation. Nothing that man can control. Government imposed regulations would be a disservice to them. They look at EPA regulations as intrusive and unacceptable. They might not be happy with a heat wave or drought or wildfire but they do not see it as anything man is controlling. That is the disconnect. Those voters are disconnected from reality. But that is how THEY choose to understand it. I’m not defending them but the rest of us are stuck with them and their crappy representatives.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Those GOP Congressmen are very connected. Unfortunately, it’s where their lips are glued to the anuses of the oil company people.

  4. The GOP has been hijacked by hostile, right-wing populists who confuse individual freedom with irresponsibility and social cooperation with oppression. Their scorn of climate issues is the sound of inchoate rage at losing their grip on the world.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The voters who put the Reptilicans into their gerrymandered districts vote on ideological reasons. They deny anthropogenic climate change because their Thought Controllers in the Rightwing MSM tell them that it is a communist plot. End of ‘thought’ processes. Another example of why a sham democracy where half the population is of below median intelligence, and are indoctrinated from birth in the Rightwing ideology of unbridled greed, obedience to authority and fear and hatred of others, produces such almost invariably bad results.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Mother Nature cannot be intimidated, bullied or ‘shock and awed’ into submission. That makes the Right really angry.

  7. mulp says:

    The alternative interpretation is they believe they are hit with fire and flood because the nation is going to hell with gays and liberals and the Muslim Obama, and god is punishing them for letting it happen.

    Clearly it is the liberals in Congress who won’t turn each day into a prayer service to pray Texas to gentle rain and pray away the tornados and the 2 inch per hour rains.

  8. Merrelyn Emery says:

    You are both right. We are not above, we are of, ME

  9. I am a bit discouraged by the fact that I read these excellent posts, find the comments mostly pretty accurate and then wonder if it just stops here, a conversation among like minded friends. Isn’t that one of the dangers of internet publishing and social media?

    I know that some, like prokaryotes, have spread the word far beyond here. But, should we all not be doing just that?

  10. BillD says:

    Once good piece of news–The fund raising mailer that I just received from the Democratic National Committee now lists “combating climate change” as one of the “priorities” on the survey. I said “of course climate change should be the top #1 priority.” In in the past, I declined to contribute money because “climate change” was not even on a list of the top 10 problems facing our country. That list did, however, include “North Korea.” So, after my complaint, or more likely after the President’s Georgetown speech, Democrats are starting to think that “combating climate change” is a potential priority for their constituents.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    These creatures are living proof of the detrimental effects of too much long-term stimulation of the private sector.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s the old ‘To Have or To Be’ conundrum.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Averting near term extinction for humanity is now, a ‘potential priority’. Jonathan Swift, where art thou?

  14. I’m trying to do that, but perhaps not very effectively.