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.
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.