Even though New Mexico is facing a future of perpetual drought, killer heat waves, water scarcity, and wildfires, the crop of Republican candidates for major office in the state are in denial about the threat of global warming pollution. Gubernatorial nominee Susana Martinez denies the science of manmade climate change. All three congressional candidates — Steve Pearce, oil engineer Tom Mullins, and corporate lobbyist Jon Barela — similarly believe scientists are engaged in a conspiracy to destroy our economy. Barela and Pearce are signatories of the “No Climate Tax” pledge organized by Americans for Prosperity, the front group supported by the Koch Industries brothers that fights limits on global warming pollution:
“[T]here is disagreement in the science community concerning the causes of global warming.” — Susana Martinez
“I don’t mean to be flippant about this, but only God knows where our climate is going.” — Jon Barela
“I think we ought to take a look at whatever the group is that measures all this, the IPCC, they don’t even believe the crap.” — Steve Pearce
“The science is not settled regarding climate change, temperature records have been falsified, and the assumptions used in computer models have large degrees of error.” — Tom Mullins
The comparatively mild warming of the last few decades has already measurably disrupted the fragile frontier. In southwestern New Mexico, extreme storms have doubled in frequency. Tens of millions of trees have already died from an explosion of bark beetles in the now water-starved state. Global warming could spell doom for New Mexico’s $1.7 billion agricultural sector. New Mexico — now tied to coal and oil — could be a renewable energy powerhouse in a green economy — but not if these candidates have their way.
SUSANA MARTINEZ, GOP NOMINEE FOR GOVERNOR
Susana Martinez, the Sarah Palin-endorsed nominee for New Mexico governor, questions the overwhelming scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is warming the planet. “I’m not sure the science completely supports that,” she recently told Politico. Responding to the New Mexico Independent, she revealed that she thinks the science of climate change is an “ideological debate”:
While there is disagreement in the science community concerning the causes of global warming, there is little disagreement concerning our responsibility to take care of the environment while creating jobs in New Mexico. Politicians engaging in an ideological debate over the causes of global warming does nothing to protect the environment, or create jobs. As governor, I will support balanced and evidenced-based environmental protections.
JON BARELA, GOP CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT ONE
Jon Barela — endorsed by Dick Armey’s climate denial FreedomWorks PAC uses Newt Gingrich’s talking points to deride the free-market cap-and-trade system once promoted by Republicans as a “job-killing” “energy tax.” In an August 3, 2010 show with right-wing talk radio host Jim Villanucci, Barela agreed with a caller that manmade global warming is a dangerous hoax, based on the “Climategate” smear campaign:
I, like most people, were rather appalled by the East Anglia University report which came out several months ago, which I guess, at best is academic fraud and at worst a deliberate attempt to manipulate facts regarding global warming. And I don’t mean to be flippant about this, but only God knows where our climate is going. If you look at the recent snowfall in the East Coast and certainly our winter, you have the ebbs and flows of climate change, and that’s just simply how how things have worked for the millennia, and for the eons.
For over a decade, Barela was a top corporate lobbyist for Intel, which supports the international scientific consensus “that climate change is a serious economic, social and environmental challenge” caused by greenhouse gas pollution. Now that he’s a right-wing politician, he’s repeating denier talking points about snowstorms.
STEVE PEARCE, GOP CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT TWO
Former representative Steve Pearce, attempting to take the second Congressional district back from Democrat Harry Teague, believes in the Climategate conspiracy theory, calling global warming “crap”:
I think we ought to take a look at whatever the group is that measures all this, the IPCC, they don’t even believe the crap. They’re the ones who say in the e-mails we’ve got to worry about this, keep these voices quiet. If they don’t believe it, why should the rest of be penalized in our standard of living for something that can’t be validated?
Pearce told the New Mexico Independent that “there is a lot of conflicting data on the nature and impact of carbon output.” Like Barela, Pearce says that the “job killing cap and trade bill” will “serve to destroy jobs and cripple our economy.”
TOM MULLINS, GOP CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT THREE
Tom Mullins, the Republican candidate for New Mexico’s third congressional district, is a global warming conspiracy theorist, believing the world’s scientists have colluded to construct a false reality. A petroleum engineer, Mullins told the New Mexico Independent that climate science is a plot constructed by politicians who “want greater power and control of our daily lives,” including “the breath we exhale”:
Carbon is organic and carbon is the basis of all life. Our federal government is attempting to regulate not just the breath we exhale, but is also infringing upon our very livelihood. Affordable energy is a critical component of New Mexico’s economic development. The residence of CO2 in the troposphere is about 5 years, rather than the 50 to 200 years assumed by many regulators. The science is not settled regarding climate change, temperature records have been falsified, and the assumptions used in computer models have large degrees of error. I believe that politicians who advocate climate change taxes and regulations, merely want greater power and control of our daily lives. As a professional engineer, I will be a voice of scientific reason on this very emotional subject.
The residence time of carbon dioxide is a popular climate denier canard.
Transcript of 8/3/10 Jim Villanucci show with Jon Barela:
CALLER: Obviously, we see the weather around us, and there are still people with the mental instability that believe in global warming, ha ha. And they’re just not getting it with all the e-mails from Liar University in England and uh some of the other things. I gave something to Jim Villanucci, it was just a little clip from Joe Bastardi of the WeatherChannel.com. The question I have for you: Republicans have not immersed themselves in information that is factually or truthfully correct so that they can argue it and defend it. Are you willing to do that for us so that when we send you there, you won’t be a watered-down version of a Republican or conservatism, you’re going to be there be putting your finger in their chest and telling them what needs to happen?
BARELA: Well, thank you, Jim, for the question. I intend to be a fighter for philosophy, and my philosophy is one conservatism, so, so absolutely. Let me be more specific to answer your question. I, like uh heh heh most people, were rather appalled by the East Anglia University uh uh report, which uh came out several months ago, which uh I guess Jim at heh heh heh at best is academic fraud and at worst a deliberate attempt to to ummm manipulate facts regarding uh global warming. And I don’t mean to be flippant about this, but only God knows where our climate is going. And and uh uh, if you look at the recent snowfall in the East Coast and certainly our winter, you know, you have the ebbs and flows of of uh of uh climate uh change, and that’s just simply how how things have worked for the millennia, and for the eons.
VILLANUCCI: I’ve always thought the sun has a lot to do with it too.
BARELA: Yeah, the sun, the clouds, heh heh heh. You know, it all points however to what I call a rule of common sense. Not only when it comes to governing our lives, how we conduct our lives, but how we also legislate. We need to use common sense when we talk about this global warming uh issue. And we as as uh um conservatives, we as uh those of us who are talking about how best we move this country forward, need to have that rule of common sense. And as Jim says, we need to immerse ourselves in the facts, learn about the facts, and and speak our mind accordingly.