Extreme weather and climate science don’t move Missouri deniers such as Rep. Todd Akin

Joplin, Missouri happens to be represented by a climate science denier. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) loves to mock those who want to restrict global warming pollution — with unintentionally self-mocking comments (see video below):

In Missouri when we go from winter to spring, that’s a good climate change. I don’t want to stop that climate change you know. Who in the world want to put politicians in charge of the weather anyways?

Seriously. And now E&E News (subs. req’d) reports that he wants to become Senator:

An engineer by training, who is seeking the Republican Senate nomination to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) next year, Akin said the science supporting man-made climate change had always appeared thin to him.

Interesting that E&E News mentions his engineering training — that would be a B.S. in “management engineering” — and not, say, his “Master of Divinity degree at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis.” Hey, I’m not saying either matters in terms of his climate science denial — there are deniers with Ph.D. in physics while the Vatican itself says the science is real and requires immediate action — just that it’s interesting E&E plays up the engineering side. But I digress.


I have said in multiple posts that the case linking climate change to the recent record-smashing tornado outrbreaks should not be conflated with the case for other extreme weather events where the connection is considerably stronger and better documented, like deluges, droughts, and heat waves. But that doesn’t mean greenhouse-gas-driven warming of, say, the Gulf of Mexico had no connection whatsoever to the outbreak of violent storms and downpours.

Akin, however, would oppose any investigation into that connection whatsoever — offering some impressive doubletalk as a justification:

He said he would support a broad investigation into what causes tornadoes, especially if it improved their early detection, but he said he would not support a study of whether carbon was contributing to this spring’s weather events.

“Going beyond that to say we really believe that somehow we can connect that to carbon, I would say is basically assuming you have a solution before you define what the problem is,” he said.

Ah, the truth comes out. This is the underlying objection of most deniers (see “The real reason conservatives don’t believe in climate science”). As the NYT explained about a 2008 denier conference in New York, “The one thing all the attendees seem to share is a deep dislike for mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gases.


For Akin, any study of the impact of “carbon” is assuming a “solution” he doesn’t believe in for a problem that he therefore can’t ever accept. Not that he is trying very hard. Here’s Akin from 2009 on the House floor (via TP):

This whole thing strikes me if it weren’t so serious as being a comedy you know. I mean, we just went from winter to spring. In Missouri when we go from winter to spring, that’s a good climate change. I don’t want to stop that climate change you know. Who in the world want to put politicians in charge of the weather anyways? What a dumb idea….

Some of the models said that we’re going to have surf at the front steps of the Capitol pretty soon. I was really looking forward to that.

The first part is on video, in case you didn’t believe that a member of Congress and an “engineer” would actually so completely confuse climate and weather:

The sea level comment is equally inane. Needless to say, the projected sea level rise of 3 to 6 feet by 2100 (on our current CO2 emissions path) would be an unmitigated catastrophe for the planet, even if sea levels didn’t keep rising 6 to 12 inches a decade for centuries, which they inevitably would.

But as the FAQ of the Architect of the Capitol notes, the base “of the Capitol is 88 feet above sea level.” Yeow. To even mockingly suggest you’d be “really looking forward” to 80+ feet of sea level rise you would have to be … well, a nutty denier. Of course, as long as deniers like Akin are in charge of the House — and possibly soon the Senate! — then that outcome is all but inevitable sometime after 2100:

Of course, Missouri doesn’t have a lot to fear from sea level rise. This chart from the recent National Academy of Sciences report makes clear what Akin’s constituents can look forward to if they promote him:

“The number of days per year in which temperatures are projected to exceed 100°F by late this century” on our current (high) emissions path, A1FI

So Missouri would be above 100°F for much of the summer. So yes, whatever we do, let’s not put politicians like Akin in charge of the weather — because that will guarantee it just gets more and more extreme.