Vitter of sea-rise-threatened Louisiana: “I do not think the science clearly supports global warming theory”


The state that stands to suffer the most from human-caused climate change has elected leaders who want to stop efforts to avoid its inundation (see “Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100“).  That’s true of the Governor and presidential hopeful (see “Jindal tries to block climate change regulation“).  And It’s true of GOP Sen. Vitter who tried to block climate change response centers.

In their final debate on Thursday night, Vitter and his challenger Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) grappled with global warming, which threatens Louisiana with destruction through sea level rise, strengthened storms, heat waves, and droughtBrad Johnson has the story and the video the reveals the sharp contrast between these two candidates on the issue  that should be of greatest importance to Louisiana voters.

“It is not a healthy world,” Melancon said, “and we need to look towards trying to fix this problem.” He concluded, “[a]t the rate we’re going and what we’re doing to it, I am fearful that we won’t leave much of a legacy for our children and grandchildren.” Vitter, by contrast, has long questioned the science in his fealty to Louisiana’s oil industry. “I do not think the science clearly supports global warming theory,” he said:

MELANCON: I believe that after going to Antarctica and seeing the science that is being conducted, and not totally understanding all of it because it’s quite complex, but we have a problem with this world that we live in. It is not a healthy world, and we need to look towards trying to fix this problem. I’m not a doomsday person, but there is a place for us to get green, not tomorrow, over time. But we need to bring a combination of fossil fuels and green to bear so this world we leave will be healthy for all the generations to come. At the rate we’re going and what we’re doing to it, I am fearful that we won’t leave much of a legacy for our children and grandchildren.

Q: Mr. Vitter?

VITTER: This is another honest disagreement between us. I do not think the science clearly supports global warming theory. So I would not support any of that sort of cap and tax legislation.

Watch it:

Like many other Republican science deniers, Vitter is a signatory of the Americans for Prosperity “No Climate Tax” pledge. He has received $527,984 from the oil & gas industry this cycle, including $41,750 from Koch Industries, AFP’s backers.

— Brad Johnson, in a ThinkProgress cross-post (with additions by JR in italics)

24 Responses to Vitter of sea-rise-threatened Louisiana: “I do not think the science clearly supports global warming theory”

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    The key part of Vitter’s answer is the “I do not think that…” part. This man does not know how to actually think about much of anything, climate science included.

  2. Bill Maddox says:

    Either he is a liar or can’t think. Either or.

  3. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Over time we are already locked into sea level rise tens of meters above today’s level. Only the timeframe is in doubt.

    The Malinkovich cycles can have barely ticked the climate and we have given it an almighty boot. A proportionatly greater climatic response is a scary thought.

  4. Mimikatz says:

    Vitter needs to be asked whether, given the huge risks to Louisiana if climate science is right and sea levels do rise by 1-2 m this century, it doesn’t make sense to at least try to reudce the threat some. Isn’t it a rather large gamble with the lives of his children and grandchildren? Look at the steps the Bush/Cherney Admin was willing to take based on a 1% chance of a terror attack. Given the speed with which climate change is happening, doesn’t it make sense to at least try to reduce emissions atleast somewhat? That is inadequate and the best Melancon can do, but at least it is going in the right direction.

    I think things need to be phraased more in terms of risks, because ther are people from many different professions and avocations who are at least somewhat trained or inclined to think in terms of risk management. It goes along with the idea of climate hawks as someone willing to face and manage risk.

  5. Barry says:

    Vitter is a classic Climate Vulture, enriching himself on the unfolding decay and destruction of our climate stability.

    2010 has been a brutal year of human suffering caused by record-smashing climate-amplified weather events. Vitter takes piles of cash from the pollution industries driving this decay, and even pledges to prevent anyone from creating an economic incentive to rein in the pollution driving our downward climate spiral.

    Melancon, worries about us not leaving much of a legacy. Oh, we are leaving a gigantic legacy to our kids and grandkids on our current path. Monster storms, record flooding, expanding deserts, chaotic crop failures, rougher and rising acid seas devoid of whole categories of life, water rationing and a Mad Max social-global instability that will go with it. These are the fruits of a generation mired in Greed, Sloth and Gluttony.

    The alternative to a legacy of multi-generational misery is for this generation, now, to start cutting fossil fuel climate pollution. Economists are pretty unanimous that the least painful way to do that is to tax the pollution.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    Beam My Up Scotty, I’m doing my part, deep into the sequel to this

    which was published in about 40 internet magazines last January. The sequel might be better, actually, and features the Kochs and Mitch McConnell, among others. Ian Murphy is doing the sketches again, and it’ll be in Alternet around the holidays. If you’ve got ideas, email me at and I might steal one.

    You’re right that things are getting very serious, which means it’s a good time to be funny.

  7. toby says:

    Anyone who parsed Vitter’s words would question his sincerity. Talking about “Honest disagreement” and “I do not think the science supports …” is actually giving himself an “out” in the future.

    Sounds like someone who wants to hang onto oil industry money for as long as he can ….

  8. Mike says:

    Perhaps the comeback question should be, “Mr. Vitter, should we have a backup plan just in case the NAS and every other professional scientific body that has reviewed the global warming issue are correct and the oil company backed think tanks are wrong?”

  9. Leif says:

    Vitter is more than a Vulture, something along the lines of a Ginny Worm. Vultures at least feed in the already dead. Vitter the Climate Ginny Worm is my write in vote.

  10. Lou Grinzo says:

    Vitter is nothing more or less than a run-of-the-mill myopic, greedy, political opportunist who sees CC as just one more wedge issue that he can use to pander to his base. He simply does not care (and probably doesn’t even know) what the science says; he perceives a way to position himself for a net gain of votes, so he does it.

    People like Vitter, the heads of fossil fueled corporations, and Limbaugh/Fox, will continue to delay and deny right up to the time that New Orleans and many other coastal cities are routinely flooded, we’re strangled by drought, soaked by floods, etc., and then they’ll pivot and blame scientists for not telling us sooner that really awful things could happen. The only way to stop them is to maximize our political footprint, as Bill McKibben once said. We have to be just as coordinated and media savvy and relentless as they are.

    When human beings place one value — an infinite lust for power and money — above all else, they become living corporations, ala the Borg from Star Trek. They mindlessly pursue the object of their lust and other factors, like not destroying the environment and consigning future generations to misery, don’t even register. Overcoming this kind of reptile-brain thinking will be one of humanity’s great challenges for many decades to come.

  11. @2 Bill Maddox: actually, we cannot preclude the possibility that he is BOTH a liar AND he cannot think.

  12. fj3 says:

    re: Vitter is a signatory of the Americans for Prosperity “No Climate Tax” pledge. He has received $527,984 from the oil & gas industry this cycle, including $41,750 from Koch Industries

    In light of this can be hardly declared an “honest disgreement” even if had mentioned that he received this money.

  13. Christopher Yaun says:

    The Eaarth Matters

    Grande Isle La…3 feet per 100 years….95% confidence


  14. These people are often mis-led. They choose a side based on their politicla leanings. They don’t really know anything about the science, they act out of ignorance.

    Getting them to listen is the difficult part. Ususally, they take the suggestions of the other side rather than listen with open mind to those who support the science.

    But I have found they can sometimes be persuaded if you can catch them in a more receptive mood. At lease we must continue to hope that people can change their opinions.

    Keep up the good work Joe and good luck America at the electionson Tues

  15. Vicki says:

    Yes all the politicians in Louisiana are now more worried about corporations in the Gulf and their concerns and desires. Of course Vitter is an ape for all the climate change deniers and anything else that corporations hate. We are in a real human tragedy and the republicans are on the side of making all the tragedy they can for us.

  16. peter whitehead says:

    Climate deniers came in 2 species:

    CLIMATE VAMPIRES suck the life out of our ecosystems for profit – they are the Big Oil/Big Log/Big Food guys, and their paid-for politicians.

    CLIMATE ZOMBIES are the regurgitators of the rubbish created by the PR companies and ‘untink’-tanks paid for by the Climate Vampires.

    Climate Zombies stalk the web, blogging, commenting, and generally polluting the political environment, causing confusion. Climate Zombies are ‘weapons of mass distraction’.

  17. David B. Benson says:

    There is no global warming theory.

    There is a theory of climate, applicable to Venus, Terra, Mars and Titan. Using this theory helps to explain the rather obvious fact that Terra is warming; human caused.

  18. Tony says:

    New Orleans= bowl surrounded by soup.
    Move to a higher location. Learn to float

  19. jyyh says:

    I’m waiting for some village idiots to begin to build a reserve harbour for oil tankers at +6 meters sea level.

  20. Robert says:

    I have read on this blog that there is an excellant chance of a one meter rise in sealevel by 2100. Is there any data about the short term (10-15 years) rise in sea level? I work and reside in New Orleans (Algiers). I want to get an idea about the realistic amount of time that I will have to live here before moving out. I would like to be able to sell my residence before the inevitable real estate crash in SE Louisiana. I know this sounds terrible, but I want to get out before the majority realize that New Orleans is truely doomed and we all witness first hand the deconstruction of a major American city.

  21. Rivers says:

    The conduct of Louisiana’s politicians needs to looked at carefully, since the state has been pushing for federal funds to restore its coast – something in the range of $100 billion by some estimates. La’s politicians helped scuttle national climate change policy (which has a big impact on the international effort.) Vitter and other GOP members of the La delegation jumped on the “Climategate” bandwagon and will no doubt be enthusiastic supporters of Stalinist persecutions of climate scientists if Mssrs. Issa and Sensenbrenner live up to their promises. And one of La’s sitting Senators denies the impacts of humans on sea-level rise – it’s time to ask whether the country can afford La.

  22. Larry Chamblkn says:

    What is so scary about Vitter’s position on climate change is that he is a member of our most august legislative body, the U.S. Senate. We depend on these people to be wise, forward thinking, and mindful of the impact their actions could have for many years. We rely on them to act in the best interests of all the people of this great land, and even to be statesmen on the global stage. If he were alone in his idiocy and greed in ignoring the science and serving the interests of the oil industry, I could dismiss him as an outlier of no consequence. But we know that he speaks for a significant percentage of Americans and even of their so-called leaders. How did concern about the health of our planet and a willingness to moderate our harmful impact become just one more element in out terribly partisan politics? I have some ideas how this happened, but I am nonetheless deeply disappointed that there seem to be no Republicans who will stand up and say, This is a serious problem beyond petty politics. We must act together to address it. A couple of senators were on the brink of doing this, but then they sat back down and joined their Know Nothing brothers and sisters. Really sad and troubling!

  23. Leif says:

    Robert @ 21: It is not a question of how soon New Orleans will flood but how soon the majority realizes that it will flood. After all a supper storm like Magi just might be next year in the Gulf and New Orleans might be the land fall on a big tide. Or the year after… On the other hand a concerted effort to mitigate Climatic Disruption just might give your property a reprieve. Who are you voting for. Pollution-for-Profits (P) Party or the other guys?