House GOP leader Boehner on ABC: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.” Minority Leader John Boehner is a traditional anti-science conservative.  His exchange Sunday with George Stephanopoulos (transcript here, reprinted below) is still notable for his utter lack of understanding of even the basics of the climate issue.  Boehner said:

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

Almost comical?  How about completely tragic?

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?

It bears repeating:  Anti-science conservatives are now the cement shoes on the American people, pulling us down into the ocean hot, acidic dead zone.

Stephanopoulos deserves praise for this extended questioning on the climate issue.  Not only do we learn Boehner is utterly ignorant of climate basics.  We also see how he contradicts himself repeatedly in an effort to push out all the standard conservative disinformer talking points on global warming.  On the one hand, carbon dioxide is something we exhale, not something harmful to the environment, but on the other hand, we can only solve this “problem” as one nation, if we “work with other industrialized nations around the world.”

But if it’s not a problem caused by humans, then how could humans possibly solve it whether we work with other countries are not?  That’s the beauty of not caring about science or logic.  You can spew out all of your disinformation, and different pieces that can stick to different people.

Here is the entire exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you then about energy. We showed your statement on the president’s decision through the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. Also, you’ve come out against the president’s proposal to cap-and-trade carbon emissions.

So what is the Republican answer to climate change? Is it a problem? Do you have a plan to address it?

BOEHNER: George, we believe that our — all of the above energy strategy from last year continues to be the right approach on energy. That we ought to make sure that we have new sources of energy, green energy, but we need nuclear energy, we need other types of alternatives, and, yes, we need American-made oil and gas.

It always bears repeating that conservatives have always bitterly opposed Congressional efforts to boost green energy (see “Hill conservatives reject all 3 climate strategies“).  Indeed, even “moderate” conservatives like McCain and Gregg have always opposed even the mildest of green energy mandates “” a national requirement that utilities get a fraction of their power from renewable energy, a requirement that half the states and every major European Union member country has (see “The greenwasher from Arizona has a record as dirty as the denier from Oklahoma” and “Is a possible 60th Senate seat worth a not-very-green GOP Commerce Secretary?“).

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that doesn’t do anything when it comes to emissions, sir.

BOEHNER: When it comes to the issue of climate change, George, it’s pretty clear that if we don’t work with other industrialized nations around the world, what’s going to happen is that we’re going to ship millions of American jobs overseas. We have to deal with this in a responsible way.

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. And so I think it’s clear…

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don’t believe that greenhouse gases are a problem in creating climate change?

BOEHNER: … we’ve had climate change over the last 100 years — listen, it’s clear we’ve had change in our climate. The question is how much does man have to do with it, and what is the proper way to deal with this? We can’t do it alone as one nation. If we got India, China and other industrialized countries not working with us, all we’re going to do is ship millions of American jobs overseas.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it sounds like from what you’re saying that you don’t believe that Republicans need to come up with a plan to control carbon emissions? You’re suggesting it’s not that big of a problem, even though the scientific consensus is that it has contributed to the climate change.

BOEHNER: I think it is — I think it is an issue. The question is, what is the proper answer and the responsible answer?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what is the answer? That’s what I’m trying to get at.

BOEHNER: George, I think everyone in America is looking for the proper answer. We don’t want to raise taxes, $1.5 to $2 trillion like the administration is proposing, and we don’t want to ship millions of American jobs overseas. And so we’ve got to find ways to work toward this solution to this problem without risking the future for our kids and grandkids.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you are committed to coming up with a plan?

BOEHNER: I think you’ll see a plan from us. Just like you’ve seen a plan from us on the stimulus bill and a better plan on the budget.

Yeah, the GOP will have a plan to deal with global warming.  If you believe that, I have some toxic assets you can buy for 90% of face value.

I must say the most pathetic thing about this interview is his claim that the GOP approach is the one that isn’t “risking the future for our kids and grandkids.”  Not (see House GOP pledge to fight all action on climate. “Why do conservatives hate your children?”).

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36 Responses to House GOP leader Boehner on ABC: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”

  1. NFJM says:

    If a surgeon had in surgery the same level as Mr. Boehner has in Earth sciences, do you think Mr. Boehner would let him practice surgery on him?

    We are obviously facing double standards: expertise is only a requirement when such people could personally be endangered by their own poor decisions based on an equally poor understanding. Keep in mind such people are “supposed” to work for the greatest good for the greatest number”.

    “Do unto others like you’d have them do unto you”… oh was this party supposed to have Christian values?

  2. Lou Grinzo says:

    Gee, anyone here think that the Republican plan to deal with CO2 will have lots of “get the government out of the way and let the market solve it” idiocy and virtually no measures to ensure that emissions are actually reduced?

    Right now the Dems should get used to saying, “the last thing we need is a no-one’s-responsible, junk mortgage solution to saving the planet” (or something similar).

  3. ecostew says:

    For R leadership to be in such denial of AGW-related climate science is truly sad and very scary.

  4. Tomas Martin says:

    The right is intellectually bankrupt on this issue. Anyone who hasn’t taken the time to learn the science should not be lecturing the world on how irrelevant the science is.

  5. Gail says:

    Page 42 of the NYT Magazine, our own Joe Romm!!

    [JR: Yes, inside a pair of dashes. I’ll blog on it eventually!]

  6. Alan says:

    If I may steal a line from Monty Python, I suspect that Boehner’s problem is the result of a tiny speck of brain embedded in his skull. If he just has it removed, he’ll be fine.

  7. russ says:

    Money & BS buys elections – have term limits and cut out the immense finance and maybe the quality of politicians would improve.

  8. MikeB says:

    The GOP’s plan to deal with climate change is:

    (wait for it…)

    Cut taxes!

  9. lgcarey says:

    I guess if one’s ideological commitment requires that global heating doesn’t exist and therefore isn’t a problem, then one is excused from knowing the most basic facts regarding the issue or the most basic principles of physics and is therefore at liberty to spout complete nonsense — apparently it’s now “Republican leaders, your source for all B.S., all the time”.

  10. Elmo says:

    Boehner is a lying sack of [unprintable]. His only objective is to preserve the status quo for the top 5%. He can be counted upon to misinterpret everything to support that objective. The only wonder is that — because the Republicans in the House are afraid to act any other way and have anointed him their leader — people like Stephanopolous continue to act as if he represents a valid position. Boehner belongs on Fox with the other varnish-huffers.

  11. Boehner deliberately reached for the term “carcinogen” in order to craft an undeniable statement. Well, carbon dioxide is not a horse either.

    The guy deserves a position on the blame game list.

  12. Dano says:

    The best denialists can do is incoherence. Soon they will not have a seat at the table, and then they won’t be allowed in the room. Not soon enough, but still.



  13. CTF says:

    I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m a little shocked that in this day and age, Minority Leader Boehner is so out of touch with the science of climate change.

  14. Bob Wright says:

    Maybe he just had a “senior moment” and really meant to say “pollutant”. Either way, he’s ignorant and wrong, and shouldn’t be trusted with leadership of energy policies.

  15. paulm says:

    The GOP’s plan to deal with climate change is:

    wait for it…

  16. Donald B says:

    One way to use the expression for (Washington in particular) Republican leaders is: “_____ is a lying sack of Cheney!”

    I wish that George had asked Boehner: “Are you that ignorant of the science that you can confuse a carcinogen with the greenhouse effect or are you in such a hypocritical mode that you don’t care if you are speaking the truth?”

    He could have asked the question with the preface: “What would you respond to someone who asked….?”

  17. MarkB says:

    What’s comical was Boehner’s inability to answer the question. First, he’s asked what the Republican solution for global warming is. He start by claiming there isn’t a problem and human-induced CO2 doesn’t cause warming (it’s “comical” to think that). Then, he admits there’s a problem, after some light prodding. His answer is to ask the same question posed to him. After Stephanopoulus points that out, Boehner is essentially saying “ok, we don’t have an answer even after decades of time to come up with one…but we will propose something just like we did (or didn’t do) for the stimulus plan”.

    This is clearly the do-nothing party.

  18. AG says:

    Wow, it’s refreshing to see such tolerance of views other than your own. Big surprise. News flash – global warming, I mean climate change, I mean climate chaos or whatever you are backed into today hasn’t been proven, and has at least as many legitimate opponents as supporters. But you people are incapable of listening to anything other than hot-blooded isolated temporary issues that stroke your ego. Why do you think so many politicians and hollywood elite are on your cause? You are ruining a sustainability movement that was here long before the left elite hi-jacked it for their own benefit – typical. The left doesn’t own the concern over legitimate controllable activities with respect to the wise management of our gifts. And the notion that climate change is fact doesn’t make it fact. But you will be onto the next issue soon enough, and I just hope it doesn’t take the legitimate sustainability movement (not based on fear and disaster) with it. Look, you either believe in God’s greatness or you believe in man’s greatness. If I believed in man’s, I’d be as terrified as you are.

  19. caerbannog says:

    Wow, it’s refreshing to see such tolerance of views other than your own. Big surprise. News flash – global warming, I mean climate change, I mean climate chaos or whatever you are backed into today hasn’t been proven, and has at least as many legitimate opponents as supporters.

    Please name some legitimate opponents, and provide examples of the papers they’ve gotten published in legitimate peer-reviewed journals that challenge global warming.

  20. AG says:

    Right after you name some that aren’t pure speculation and treating a wild hypothesis as if it’s already a law. Does this hysteria not cause anyone to question motives? Are we all supposed to jump off a cliff because Al Gore says so? Just because somebody says A+B=C doesn’t make it so. And all the hot blooded left wing supporters in the world make no difference. This world is so much more complex than you want to believe, and factors other than your current whim are at play, which believe it or not, may be more important. Besides, God has control of this world, and He has given us a glimpse of the future of it, and it has nothing to do with a build-up of green house gasses from what I can tell. Here’s one, stop drinking soft drinks because the fizz comes from the boogie man.

  21. Susan Anderson says:

    AG: Wow, denialists are everywhere. For your information, about 97-99% of credible scientists and 100% of credible organizations in the fields worldwide are in agreement.

    You may have learned to parrot/twist scientific arguments, but that doesn’t make your remarks credible as you post them for the umpteenth hundredth time in the last few decades. You do the public a disservice by continuing to present industry-sourced disinformation.

    Science is reality based and a continuous debate; this one is becoming clearer with each passing year, and has real world consequences: floods where it’s wet, droughts where it’s dry; water shortages, pest migration, and even socioeconomic problems such as violence over scarce resources.

    Al Gore did the best he could to compile information and present it to the public; when errors are found he corrects them. A few minor errors that have been corrected do not deny the whole, which is impressive. The evidence he cites is all over the literature. Your revolving parade of skeptics is really quite small no matter how much you inflate them.

  22. Susan Anderson says:

    I’m fascinated by how quickly the new meme got broadcast. This weekend saw an explosion of commentary about how we breathe CO2. Heaven help us!

  23. Gail says:

    Wow. If you feed that troll it might bite you. I do not get the feeling he is the least bit sincerely trying to seek or exchange ideas or information. Starve him!

  24. AG says:

    When you say things as ridiculous as 99% of the credible science out there is in agreement with you, do you not feel even the slightest tinge that you’re full of it. Nothing is that certain, Lady, least of all this. You’re free to believe whatever you want to, Polly. I bet I didn’t see you at any of the Tea Parties last week, am I wrong? Do you also think that 99% of Americans believe that the constitution, capitalism, liberty, sovereignty, self-reliance, & rugged individualism are out-dated concepts? This disagreement is a symptom of people with polar opposite epistemologies. On one side are the humanists full of fear and need to control, and on the other are Believers in the almighty God and His total control over our world. We believe in being wise managers of all our gifts, which is true sustainability – not the kind that is based on mortal fear that the sky is falling.

  25. AG says:

    That’s real sincere of you Gail. Thanks for the insightful addition to the conversation. You people are such hypocrites, and you can’t see it. You make me laugh. Do you believe in God?

  26. Gail says:

    AG, the answer to that question is an unequivocal NO.

    Atheist and proud.

  27. Black Oak says:

    The climate in Northern New England has taken a turn back into the cold….our heating degree days are returning to the norms last calculated in 2001 by the National Weather Service; yet the supposed Global Warming scientists have refused to add in these past two cold & snowy(how can you ignore TEN FEET OF SNOW) winters into the calculus.

    Then there are the flawed predictions of ocean rises that defy geological data recorded by Maine for the past 130 years….in one study the slow rise in the ocean level averaged at 1.41 mm a year using Portland head light records would result in a total rise of only 7 inches in 100 years!…Even worse the data, reveals a plateau since the early 80’s, meaning that perhaps the ocean levels along the coast of New England are actually falling!…YIKES

    Scientific modeling has crashed on the rocks of scientific data collection in Maine…it ain’t warming anymore, and the tides aren’t rising to catastrophic levels….you can call me a skeptic all you want, but I’ve got the facts and you don’t!

  28. jcwinnie says:

    Dear Professor “Stick-in-the-Permafrost” Romm,

    Loosen up. You can never get enough of a good thing, right? The Repugnants are simply saying “Party on, Dude!” Toga…Toga…Toga

    j.”Can I Gig Size That?”c.

  29. Rick C says:

    Black Oak,

    What you’re citing is weather and not climate change. The average global temperature continues to rise. The temperature in Walla, Walla, argument does not alter this fact. March was the 10th warmest on record based on this NOAA report in spite of La Niña and low solar activity.

    Here’s what they said about average temperature:

    The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for March was 55.87degrees F, which at 0.97 degrees F above the 20th century average of 54.9 degrees F ranks as the 10th warmest March on record.

    Here’s what they said about snow fall:

    Satellite-based snow cover extent for the Northern Hemisphere was 15.38 million square miles (39.83 million sq. km) in March, which is 0.40 million square miles (1.05 million sq. km) below the 1967-2009 average of 15.78 million square miles (40.88 million sq. km).

    It was hard to miss this because it is currently posted on this site. So please tell me where you got your “facts” because it sure wasn’t NOAA?

  30. caerbannog says:

    Here’s an anecdotal data point to counter Black Oak’s anecdotal data point.

    It was 98F in downtown San Diego today, and over 100F in the inland valleys.

    If I didn’t know the difference between weather and climate, I’d blame the high temperatures on global warming. But I do, so I won’t.

  31. Jonsi says:

    Black Forest,

    I don’t believe what you claim about Maine sea levels, but when people project sea level rise, they are talking about GLOBAL AVERAGES. Locally, sea level will be determined by increasing ocean temperature, contributions from land ice sheets melting, but also LOCAL subsidence, compaction, post-glacial viscoelastic rebound, and littoral sediment transport and erosion of beaches. Local departure from global averages and future projections is expected.

    Sea levels in Maine could be falling, but I doubt it, as it is actually in a location where there should currently be some subsidence due to the sinc function shape associated with lithospheric flexure following the removal of glacial loads. It’s near a boundary where you’d have anywhere from 0.1 mm/yr uplift to subsidence. For a few thousand years there was vertical uplift. That is why Maine exists. It is now mildly sinking [on the whole; local bays and beaches may be very different]. All of this, of course, is standard material in any geodynamics or tectonophysics class. It means nothing with regards to climate change and global sea level rise.

  32. Shelly T. says:

    The contradictory talking points are typical — I attended Michele Bachmann’s “climate forum” 3 weeks ago and her presentation was nearly entirely done by Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He repeated the same contradictory talking points, but his memory was a little better than Boner’s.

    Bachmann’s intro statement repeated the same lie about the $3,000+ dollar cost to the “average American” if carbon taxes pass too.

    By the way, the “climate forum” she presented was a big attempt to disprove global warming. It was ridiculous. Her cult following was there and they gave her more than one standing ovation. I’d like to know how to stop these right-wing anti-science people from spreading their lies. My local newspaper just write an op-ed calling her an “extremist”. Maybe that’ll help. (I am in her district).

  33. SF Bay Area had temps in the high 90s today for what it’s worth. Broke records set over 100 years ago. More of the same for tomorrow. And like caerbannog, I won’t claim it is global warming.

    Black Oak and AG

    If you are willing to read a really interesting science book, that a layman can grasp and that is nothing like any other global warming book, I recommend “The Carbon Age” by Eric Roston.

    You should know that not one thing that either of you wrote has a shred of real science behind it. And not one of the lists of skeptic scientists you have heard of, like the Oregon Petition, or Sen. Inhofe’s list of 650 “prominent scientists” who disagree with AGW, is real. Everyone of them is bogus.
    Sen Inhofe’s list only has a few dozen actual climate scientists, and the Oregon petition’s 32,000 is really about 200 or about 0.4% of the number of members of the American Geophysical Union.

    A recent poll of scientists found that 80% in general agreed with AGW. More importantly, the ones who actually study the climate agreed by 97%. so the 99% that someone mentioned is very close, and perhaps more accurate.

    What you are trying to tell us is that you know better than every single major scientific institution in the world, the earth science dept. faculty of every single major university in the world and the National Academy of Science of every single country in the world that has a National Academy of Science.

    That is absurd. Plain and simple.

    It’s completely obvious to anyone who has really spent any time studying the issue of climate change, even a layman like myself, that your comments reflect someone who hasn’t even a passing knowledge of the issues, not even a Cliff Notes Lite passing knowledge.
    I know you don’t like to hear that but you better listen up. You are repeating what are really urban legends about climate change.
    About climate change only being a theory. Gravity is a theory. Get it?

    Read the book, then see what you think. Can’t hurt.

  34. Donald B says:

    AG: Atheists are just as sincere (and many more so) in their support of the United States Constitution than you are. A lot of people, a larger number than are atheists also support the Constitution. But we disagree on what it MEANS and at least 60% of Americans disagree with YOUR interpretation.

    Why don’t you tell us why you do not support the peer-reviewed science? I suspect it is because you (probably deliberately) confuse the understanding of science based on measured data and faith in God (coming to save us all?). Or is it just that you don’t want anyone in government (which is ALL of us, not just those of your persuasion) spending people’s money to prevent a future catastrophe, no matter how real. Do you want the government to stop working to take down al Qaeda, also? Were or are you a smoker that doesn’t believe that tobacco smoke causes cancer?

    Why don’t you cite the precise aspects of science that support your view or specifically tell us why you don’t think the labelled “Greenhouse Gases” are warming the Earth?

    I suspect that most of the readers of this blog do not think you can.

  35. Donald B says:

    Black Oak:

    I heard the weatherman’s report last night which, predicting rain, said that it was a most needed even, since the months of January, February and March had been the DRIEST on historical RECORD for New England. This certainly does not corroborate with your data, but then it includes your data with data from the rest of New England to give something the reflects the region as a whole, not just one small feature. The same applies to the temperature of the Earth: localities will suffer extremes in both directions, but the AVERAGE of those extremes will be found to be increasing. In the United States the number of record HIGH temperatures over the last ten or twenty years has been DOUBLE the number of record LOW temperatures. These are all measures which lead anyone who cares about facts to conclude that the Earth is warming.

    But just as having an automobile accident does not prove that you are a bad driver, one “event” does not prove global warming. However, when you have ten accidents in a couple months, it would indicate there is a problem with your driving. And the measured facts about the Earth’s temperature and carbon dioxide levels indicate that the Earth IS warming, and at an increasing rate.

  36. dharma41 says:

    I don’t know how REALLY ignorant Boehner is on climate change, but when you are as deep into the pockets of big oil and big coal as the minority party is, this is the kind of lame obfuscation you must engage in to insure that such corporate interests keep backing you.