Last week, the EPA “formally declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants that endanger public health and welfare, setting in motion a process that will lead to the regulation of the gases for the first time in the United States.” Following the announcement, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) immediately issued a statement claiming that it was “nothing more than a back-door attempt to enact a national energy tax.”
On ABC’s This Week yesterday, host George Stephanopoulos pressed Boehner to explain what the Republican plan was to deal with climate change. First, Boehner said they believed in an “all of the above energy strategy.” But when Stephanopoulos noted that their drilling plan “doesn’t do anything when it comes to emissions,” Boehner called the idea that carbon dioxide is dangerous “comical“:
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what is the responsible way? That’s my question. What is the Republican plan to deal with carbon emissions, which every major scientific organization has said is contributing to climate change?
BOEHNER: George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide.
Asked by Stephanopoulos if he believes “greenhouse gases are a problem in creating climate change,” Boehner said that “we’ve had climate change over the last 100 years” before questioning “how much does man have to do with it.” Watch it:
As ClimateProgress’ Joe Romm points out, Boehner apparently has no idea what he is talking about:
One of the GOP’s senior leaders thinks this debate is about whether carbon dioxide is a carcinogen? And thinks carcinogens harm the environment, rather than people? And thinks that cows are of concern because they produce carbon dioxide, rather than methane?
Needless to say, there is ample scientific evidence that disputes Boehner’s denial of man-made climate change. As Huffington Post’s Sam Stein notes, “Boehner’s argument that the amount of CO2 in the air is natural, meanwhile, is disproved by data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency“:
Natural sources of CO2 occur within the carbon cycle where billions of tons of atmospheric CO2 are removed from the atmosphere by oceans and growing plants, also known as ‘sinks,’ and are emitted back into the atmosphere annually through natural processes also known as ‘sources.’ When in balance, the total carbon dioxide emissions and removals from the entire carbon cycle are roughly equal.
Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1700’s, human activities, such as the burning of oil, coal and gas, and deforestation, have increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. In 2005, global atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were 35% higher than they were before the Industrial Revolution.
This isn’t the first time that a conservative member of Congress has mocked the reality of climate change by referring to animal flatulence. In February 2007, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) declared, “We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?“