Washington Post stunner: “The GOPs climate-change denial may be its most harmful delusion.”

It is not a surprise for a major publication to point out how Republicans have become dangerously deluded in their denial of climate science.  One might even say it is a dog bites man story (see National Journal: “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”).

HiattBut what makes this a stunner is for this to come from Fred Hiatt — the Washington Post‘s Editorial Page Editor who in the past had printed multiple columns by George Will and Sarah Palin spreading disinformation on climate science and who has recycled Wall Street Journal op-eds from the likes of Bjorn Lomborg (see links here).

Hiatt has today published an amazing op-ed, “On climate change, the GOP is lost in never-never land,” that I’ll excerpt below:

The Republican self-deception that draws the most attention is the refusal to believe that Barack Obama is American-born.

But there are Republican doctrinal fantasies that may be more dangerous: the conviction that taxes can always go down, but never up, for example, and the gathering consensus among Republican leaders that human-caused climate change does not exist….

The climate change denialism is a newer part of the catechism. Just a few years ago, leading Republicans “” John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty among them “” not only accepted global warming as real but supported some kind of market-based mechanism to raise the cost of burning fossil fuels.

Now polls show declining numbers of Republicans believing in climate change, and a minority of those believing humans are at fault, so the candidates are scrambling to disavow their past positions.

Palin, who as Alaska governor supported efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, in 2009 wrote in The Post, “But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather changes.”

See The Washington Post goes tabloid, publishes second falsehood-filled op-ed by Sarah Palin in five months “” on climate science and the hacked emails!

Pawlenty similarly acknowledged on “Meet the Press” last year that “the climate is changing,” but added that “the more interesting question is how much of that is man-made versus natural causes.”

When I asked last week how Pawlenty would answer that “interesting question,” his spokesman responded by e-mail: “We don’t know [the] cause of climate change.”

See Tim Pawlenty: “Every one of us” running for president has flip-flopped on climate change.

Climate science is complex, and much remains to be learned. But if you asked 1,000 scientists, 998 of them would say that climate change is real and that human activity “” the burning of oil, gas and coal “” is a significant contributor. But Pawlenty’s supposed uncertainty is convenient, because if we don’t know the cause, then there’s little point in looking for a cure. And any cure is going to cost money, or votes, or both.

Democrats aren’t honest in these areas, either. President Obama does a good job of explaining how the Bush tax cuts helped cause today’s deficit, but then pretends that reinstating taxes on the rich alone can fix most of the problem. As the polls on climate change shift, he talks about green jobs and energy independence instead of global warming, as if there’s nothing out there but pain-free, win-win solutions.

See Can you solve global warming without talking about global warming?

To say that Republican irresponsibility makes it more difficult for Democrats to speak honestly is not an excuse. But it is a partial explanation. And while Obama may wish the climate change conversation would go away between now and 2012, he at least is not pretending the phenomenon is fiction.

Does Pawlenty believe what he says now? I’ve spoken with the former Minnesota governor. I know he is a smart man. As recently as 2008 he was supporting congressional action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. I do not believe that he believes those 998 scientists are wrong.

Which leads to another question: Should we feel better if a possible future president is not ignorant about the preeminent environmental danger facing our planet, but only calculating or cowardly?

To paraphrase Pawlenty, I don’t know the answer to that one.

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14 Responses to Washington Post stunner: “The GOPs climate-change denial may be its most harmful delusion.”

  1. dbmetzger says:

    two videos from australian public broadcasting, for those who don’t believe the sun revolves around the earth.

    Scientists to Revolutionize Climate Change Research
    Queensland scientists have developed a prototype they say will radically change the way climate change is monitored across the plane.

    Cane Toads Defy Darwin’s Theory
    Researchers in Sydney, Australia, say Charles Darwin’s idea that survival of the fittest benefits a species is being challenged by detrimental new traits in cane toads. The amphibians have been held up as an example of “spatial sorting” in action.

  2. LAC says:

    Thank you, I would not have seen this. After the second falsehood-filled George Will piece on this topic that Mr. Hiatt published, I stopped reading the Post editorial page, and indeed stopped checking the Post for much besides the weather and occasional local election result.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Let’s encourage Hiatt, but he needs to be asked if the Post will continue to run nonsensical material by people such as George Will and Bjorn Lomborg. The New York Times also says the right things in its editorials, but routinely runs cowardly, hedging articles by Broder and Rosenthal, and allows free rein to John Tierney, maybe the biggest idiot of all of them. Both of these papers need to either wake up, or not, so we can decide whether to just leave them behind forever.

    Pawlenty is an interesting case, but he couldn’t resists the New Rule: if any Republican candidate wants money from the RNC or the oil companies, he must practice saying things like “the science isn’t settled”. Pawlenty and McCain know better, but suffer from a virulent form of sociopathy, which says that any statement resulting in power and money for them is a moral statement. This pathology is now de riguer among Republicans, and if you don’t go for it, you’re a sucker. This is beyond sick, and the Democrats need to call them on it, instead of waiting for their own outliers like Sanders or Kucinich to do their dirty work.

  4. Barry says:

    I’ve switched from reading NYT to the WaPo because of NYT pay-to-read scheme. And I was very surprised and happy to see the Hiatt column. That alone made me glad I made the switch.

    PS: When you buy a newspaper most of what you are paying for is the dead tree smeared with ink and its delivery to you…not the salaries of the reporters. The NYT notion that you need to pay them *more* to read their news online without the pound of dead tree dropped on your doorstep is an insult.

  5. Mark says:

    Pawlenty’s position reminds me of Charlie Baker’s position (who recently ran for Governor of Massachusetts) that he was “not smart enough” to know the cause of climate change.

    The voters decided he was “not smart enough” to be Governor.

  6. cervantes says:

    Yo DB, I don’t believe the sun revolves around the earth — but I don’t know if those videos are for me.

  7. paulm says:

    Its amazing.

    Some people are just so head strong on this issue that they are blinkered….until it really slaps them in the face… the realization that reality is there…

    …the extreme weather, the overwhelming data and science, the almost complete agreement of the scientists, the growing desperation of the scientist in trying to convey the imminent, pressing and desperate nature of action needed to address the issue, the fact that literally the rest of the world is clambering in almost panic about this. Whew!

    Wow! Come guys lets get going.

  8. climate undergrad says:

    Mark, Chris Christie has taken the same approach in NJ!

    See Climate Progress; “Zombies take New Jersey”

    “So, I go to be honest with you, I don’t know. And that’s probably one of the reasons why I became a lawyer, and not a doctor, or an engineer, or a scientist, because I can’t figure this stuff out. But I would say at this point, that has to be proven, and I’m a little skeptical about it. Thank you.”

  9. Lionel A says:


    ‘Researchers in Sydney, Australia, say Charles Darwin’s idea that survival of the fittest benefits a species…’

    That idea in that statement is completely untrue. Survival of the fittest was the thinking of Herbert Spencer from his misunderstanding of Darwin’s Origin of Species. Spencer, a social philosopher, misapplied Darwin’s analysis producing one of the longest running misdirections in the history of evolutionary study. A misdirection still used by those who wish to paint evolution as nothing but an evil theory, when it is neither a theory nor evil.

    But then I think that you probably knew that.

    Frank Ryan in his thought provoking book ‘Virolution’ explains this well. Virolution should be on the reading list of all interested in evolution and in particular the evolution of pathogens such as virii.

    It would seem, from reading Ryan, that virii have surprising evolutionary associations with their host organism, showing evidence of co-evolution with them.

  10. paulm says:

    Tim DeChristopher – We have enough people who realize what global warming is about to instigate change….

  11. GFW says:

    Eli Rabbet referred to the closing paragraph “Should we feel better if a possible future president is not ignorant about the preeminent environmental danger facing our planet, but only calculating or cowardly?” as “the Joe Romm memorial last paragraph”. Thought that would get a chuckle over here.

  12. Snapple says:

    I was a Republican for 40 years, but Climategate made me notice that my party was just cynically lying to me so they could help the extremely wealthy fossil fuel companies.

    The Republicans just seem repulsive to me now.


    These fossil-fuel interests and the politicians they own (Inhofe, Cuccinelli, Barton, etc.) are tricking people into going along with what basically amounts to a slow motion genocide. The business interests and politicians know they are basically gassing the whole world with CO2. I feel like that is a crime against humanity. I think if the ordinary people understood, they could be mobilized for sacrifices and change.

    All the politicians should be communicating the truth to people so that our people pull together and solve this terrible problem. Al Gore is a real hero. I see that now.

    I used to sort of chuckle when people made jokes about Al Gore, but now I know that I was being manipulated by propaganda.

  13. Robert In New Orleans says:

    So many Republican delusions, so little time.

  14. Rob Mac says:

    I have to say that that cane toad video is the most ignorant pile of psuedo-scientific crud I’ve watched in a long while.

    I’m not sure if the scientist is really as idiotic as the video makes him seem, or if the whole thing was just sloppily put together by an ignorant reporter who thought he was on to something interesting.

    No, evolution is not the survival of the fittest. It never was. And there is no Darwinian theory that evolution “improves” species over time. Evolution is not about improvement or the survival of any individual. It’s about the ability of each individual to produce offspring who in turn produce offspring, and on and on. If a toad who develops arthritis by the age of 3 produces more surviving offspring than a toad who never develops arthritis, then the arthritic toad’s offspring will come to dominate the gene pool.

    I think people who don’t “believe” in evolution generally just don’t understand it. They think evolution is about some sort of magic force that pushes species to “improve”. God, people are stupid.

    Sorry to be so OT.