A group of four Republican senators, led by climate denier Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), have lashed out at the Obama administration’s efforts to protect the poorest and most vulnerable people of the world from climate disasters. Inhofe, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) wrote a letter to President Barack Obama telling him to drop an international adaptation fund for the least developed nations — part of the Copenhagen Accord signed last year by President Obama and over 130 other nations. Under Democratic leadership, the United States appropriated $1.3 billion for the climate fund in 2010 (compared to $136.8 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). After citing the budget deficit and high unemployment as reasons not to invest in protecting the vulnerable, the senators attacked the scientific basis for taking action:
In addition, several of the findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concerning the eventual impacts of climate change in developing countries were found to be exaggerated or simply not true. We understand that reforms of the IPCC process are currently underway and we believe that no American taxpayer dollars should be committed to a global climate fund based on information that is not accurate.
The Wonk Room contacted the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, a new volunteer effort by top scientists, to find out what they thought about the claim that the threat to the developing world is too uncertain for the United States to act.
“This is a dishonest climate change denier myth,” top climate scientist Michael Mann, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, explained. The senators are referring to two or three errors in the thousand-page impacts report that are “so insubstantial that they didn’t even make the summary for policy makers or the technical summary report.”
Dr. Gary Yohe, the Huffington Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University, charged the senators with “misdirection and misrepresentation”:
They are continuing an effort of misdirection and misrepresentation so that the debate does not focus on the issue – the urgent need for adaptation and the value to the United States of investing in adaptation (around the world).
Dr. Spencer Weart, a physicist and leading science historian, told us that “senators are incorrect in their claim that there are substantial errors in the IPCC’s evaluation of the science of impacts of climate change on developing nations”:
Unless the senators can point to serious deficiencies in the actual main conclusions about impacts of the IPCC report — which they have not done and cannot do — the prudent thing is to take the IPCC’s severe warnings about impacts at face value and prepare accordingly.
The senators have received a collective $5.1 million from the fossil fuel industry in campaign contributions.
Dr. Weart’s full response debunks in detail the senators’ letter: Read more