State Rep. John Loughlin, the Republican candidate for Rhode Island’s First Congressional District, is part of the radical science denial movement that is a core plank of Tea Party ideology. When asked why he signed the Americans for Prosperity “No Climate Tax” pledge at an October 19 debate, Loughlin launched into a falsehood-drenched rant about climate science:
I’m not a scientist, but I did work for NASA. And when I was at NASA we had a scientist who I actually did some of the press release work for by the name of Dr. James Hansen at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Dr. Hansen released a peer-reviewed paper in the ’70s that talked about global cooling. And then it’s only later that he’s kind of gotten the conversion to global warming. The IPCC had the leaked emails, I think there’s no scientific consensus. And I think it’s foolhardy to link tax policy to science when there is really not a scientific consensus on global warming at this point. . . .
I’m saying really the earth is warming, but it’s not conclusively caused by man. It’s not conclusive. I mean 94 percent of the carbon emissions which you so want to get rid of are caused by nature.
PolitiFact has soundly debunked Loughlin’s conspiracy theories and pseudoscience, interviewing Dr. James Hansen himself, who said quite simply that Loughlin “is speaking nonsense.”
Americans for Prosperity has repeatedly complained that their “No Climate Tax” pledge has nothing to do with questioning the science, even though AFP regularly questions the science. Speaking at a screening of (Astro)Turf Wars, AFP VP of Policy Phil Kerpen dismissed his organization’s climate denial as just being “off message.” In reality, AFP and Loughlin’s denial that fossil fuel pollution is destroying our climate serves the interests of the oil and gas companies who fund them.
“I believe global climate change is real,” Loughlin’s opponent, David N. Cicilline, retorted:
I believe we have a responsibility to address it and do whatever we can to protect our environment and develop and produce clean energy. I believe it is an opportunity for America to lead the world again in the production and development of clean energy. When Rep. Loughlin is out publicly talking about global climate change, he mocks it, that it’s not serious. This is a serious issue. We have a responsibility to reduce carbon emissions, to address global climate change that is caused by pollution. There is broad scientific consensus on this.
“This is not just something you believe in! This is not like the Easter Bunny!” Loughlin interrupted.
To the crowd’s applause, Cicilline retorted: “No, it’s science.”