Earlier this year, readers of the Tampa Bay Times’ fact-checking project PolitiFact were asked to vote on what they believe was the year’s biggest lie. And as of Wednesday, the results are in: “Climate change is a hoax” was the overwhelming choice.
Over nine other options, almost 32 percent of the PolitiFact’s 14,467 poll voters chose the “hoax” claim, which was the title of a video released this summer by failed congressional candidate Lenar Whitney. Whitney, who proclaimed herself as one of the most conservative members of Louisiana’s state Legislature, released a 5-minute tirade against climate scientists and the existence of global warming. To prove her point, Whitney stated that the earth is getting colder, that there is a record amount of sea ice in the Arctic, and that climate scientists have been proven to actively falsify their data.
Shortly after the video was released, PolitiFact rated the claims within it as “Pants on Fire” — the site’s highest possible rating of fabrication. It noted NASA data which shows that 12 of the past 15 years have been the hottest years on record; that Arctic sea ice has significantly decreased over the long-term despite a few short-term increases; and that the climate science “scam” she cited was proven false by several investigations.
In addition, there is an overwhelming consensus among actively publishing climate scientists that human-made carbon emissions are causing most of the global warming we see in the atmosphere and oceans.
Though Whitney’s claims were some of the most brazen in nature this year, she was far from the only political figure to claim climate change is a hoax. In fact, the incoming chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), is one of Congress’ most outspoken climate deniers, sometimes refuting climate change science by citing the bible.
In the outgoing Congress, 17 out of 22 Republican members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee — or 77 percent — deny that climate change is occurring or that humans are the cause.