Parts of Iowa have just been inundated with two months of rainfall in one week, an impact of climate change that scientists have connected to the rise in global temperatures. But when Congressional hopeful David Young, who just won the Republican nomination in his bid for Iowa’s 3rd district House seat, was asked about climate change on Iowa Public Radio last month, Young asserted that he’s seen “credible studies” saying man-made climate change isn’t real.
“I’ve seen, like a lot of people, credible studies on both sides of this issue,” he said. “I do know one thing for sure: we need to use sound science and not put this into a political science box.”
In another recent interview with the Des Moines Register, Young conceded that “the climate does change” but then added, “a lot of times some of the climate change is because of natural occurrences with volcanoes or natural gases.”
Young’s comments come over a year after a survey of more than 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers found a 97 percent consensus among the science community that global warming exists and is primarily caused by humans. Last month, John Oliver called attention to the over-representation of climate deniers in the media by hosting a “statistically representative” science debate on his comedy show, and just this week, a physicist announced that he’s offering $10,000 to any scientist who can disprove climate change.
According to the Des Moines Register, Young’s opponent in the general election, Staci Appel, “accepts the idea that climate change is caused by humans, saying ‘I don’t know that we can afford not to deal with’ the problem.”
The Young campaign failed to respond to several requests for comment by ThinkProgress regarding which credible studies Young was referring to refuting man-made climate change.
When a reporter at the Des Moines Register asked Young, “What do we do about it? Do we just sit back and keep our fingers crossed?” Young replied that he does think the United States should look at new technologies and should have a diverse energy portfolio that includes renewable energy.
But in his Iowa Public Radio interview, Young concluded his statement on climate change by saying that climate change policies cannot be done “unilaterally through this administration, through executive order, or by the EPA. It needs to be done in Congress.”
Young previously worked as Chief of Staff for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has also questioned the existence of man-made climate change. (Though Young did tell The Iowa Republican, “I’m not going to ride on Sen. Grassley’s back on this campaign. I’m my own person.”)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently made similar claims to Young’s but when pressed for specific sources that disprove man-made climate change, he couldn’t name any.
Two-thirds of Americans support the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants announced earlier this month. And the EPA, which was ratified by Congress in the first place, was asked by Congress to set air quality, emission, and anti-pollution standards through the Clean Air Act.
Iowans are becoming more and more convinced that climate change exists. Results from a 2013 study by Iowa State University of around 1,000 Iowa farmers shows that only 2.5 percent of farmers in the state do not believe that climate change is occurring, down from 4.5 percent in 2011. The number of respondents who believe climate change is occurring increased from 67.7 percent to 74.3 percent over the past two years. The change in opinion comes after years of extreme weather in the state, including a drought in 2012 and two years of record rainfall in 2013 and 2014.
Still, just 17.3 percent of farmers in Iowa believe that climate change is mainly caused by human activities.
Abigail Bessler is an intern at ThinkProgress.