When climate ignorance becomes the norm

WHEN CLIMATE IGNORANCE BECOMES THE NORM…. For at least a little while, some Republicans seemed open to the evidence on global warming. As recently as 2008, the GOP’s presidential candidate endorsed cap-and-trade, paid lip service to climate change, and received very little pushback from his party.

In 2010, ignorance is back en vogue. In New Mexico, for example, literally every Republican candidate for higher office denies global warming. In New Hampshire, there are six candidates in a U.S. Senate primary, and all six reject climate science. In New York’s Senate GOP primary, the two candidates hoping to defeat Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) recently had a debate in which they explored the environmental crisis — one called the science a “charade”; the other called it a “hoax.”

These aren’t isolated anecdotes. In 2010, as the evidence becomes impossible to ignore, the Republican mainstream has embraced a philosophy of denial with both arms.

A comprehensive Wonk Room survey of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate finds that nearly all dispute the scientific consensus that the United States must act to fight global warming pollution. In May, 2010, the National Academies of Science reported to Congress that “the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change” because global warming is “caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems.”

This finding is shared by scientific bodies around the world. However, in the alternate reality of the fossil-fueled right wing, climate science is confused or a conspiracy, and policies to limit pollution would destroy the economy.

Remarkably, of the dozens of Republicans vying for the 37 Senate seats in the 2010 election, only one — Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware — supports climate action.

Yes, and he may lose.

All told, Wonk Room looked at 48 Republican Senate candidates — some incumbents, some not — and 47 of them, to varying degrees, disagree with the voluminous evidence supporting climate change.

With conservatives having successfully killed a climate bill in the Senate this year, some may hope for a modicum progress in the future. Barring significant reform of how the Senate operates, that’s unlikely — the all-but official line of the Republican Party is that climate science is to be rejected.