‘Smokey Joe’ Barton: Global Warming ‘Is A Net Benefit To Mankind’

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), nicknamed “Smokey Joe” for his persistent advocacy on behalf of polluters, sat for an interview with C-Span this weekend to discuss a variety of environmental issues.

Barton expressed concern that regulation of carbon dioxide pollution would restrict his “convenient” and “modern lifestyle.” “I don’t want to go back to the 1870s where my great-grandparents lived on a dry land cotton farm in Texas with no running water and no electricity and their power source was their own muscles or animal power,” Barton feared.

He then argued that the warming of the planet is actually a “net benefit” for humans:

CO2 is odorless, colorless, tasteless — it’s not a threat to human health in terms of being exposed to it. We create it as we talk back and forth. So, and if you go beyond that, on a net basis, there’s ample evidence that warming generically — however it is caused — is a net benefit to mankind.

Watch it:

Ironically, just as Barton is pushing his claim that warming is beneficial for humans, the Pentagon is concluding that “global warming is now officially considered a threat to U.S. national security.” In its upcoming 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, Pentagon planners will report that climate change could result in food and water scarcity, pandemics, population displacement, and other destabilizing events that could create conflict.


“The American people expect the military to plan for the worst,” says retired Vice Adm. Lee Gunn, a 35-year Navy veteran now serving as president of the American Security Project. “It’s that sort of mindset, I think, that has convinced, in my view, the vast majority of military leaders that climate change is a real threat and that the military plays an important role in confronting it.”

Barton took issue with Sarah Palin’s call for Obama to boycott Copenhagen. “I like Sarah Palin as a person…I would disagree with her though. I think the President’s got every right to go to Copenhagen,” he said.