Moderate Republicans are a little late on climate change

MODERATE REPUBLICANS ARE A LITTLE LATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE…. Despite an aggressive effort to convince Republicans to reject the entirety of climate science, there are apparently a handful of overwhelmed moderates who haven’t completely rejected reason.

It’s not quite an outright backlash yet, but some GOP moderates are beginning to publicly attack the widespread climate skepticism in their party’s ranks.

Former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) — who led the House Science Committee from 2001 to 2006 — took his party to task in a Friday Washington Post column headlined “Science the GOP can’t wish away.”

“Watching the raft of newly elected GOP lawmakers converge on Washington, I couldn’t help thinking about an issue I hope our party will better address. I call on my fellow Republicans to open their minds to rethinking what has largely become our party’s line: denying that climate change and global warming are occurring and that they are largely due to human activities,” writes Boehlert, whose post-Congress work includes advising the Project on Climate Science.

He later adds: “There is a natural aversion to more government regulation. But that should be included in the debate about how to respond to climate change, not as an excuse to deny the problem’s existence. The current practice of disparaging the science and the scientists only clouds our understanding and delays a solution.”

Boehlert’s push came two days after outgoing Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) also lamented the fact that his party has its head in the sand when it comes to global warming.

That’s helpful, I suppose, in helping push back against the notion that only the left is allowed to take science and evidence seriously, but it’s worth noting that Boehlert is a former congressman, not a current one. Inglis is still a member for a few more weeks, but he lost a GOP primary by 40 points precisely because he’s occasionally interested in reality.

If Republicans like Boehlert and Inglis are going to have any kind of impact on their party, they’re going to need a lot of help.

At this point, the battle appears all but lost. Of every Republican U.S. candidate this year, all but one rejected the evidence of climate change. In the Senate next year, more than three-fourths of the caucus will be climate deniers. In the House, more than half of the Republicans question the science to one degree or another.

And those are just the politicians. We also learned this week that among the rank and file, just 38% of Republicans say there is solid evidence the earth is warming. Among “Tea Party” Republicans, 70% have concluded that climate science is wrong.

It didn’t used to be this way. As recently as a few years ago, Republican voters, by and large, believed what the mainstream believed when it came to climate science. Then their party, its candidates, and its media outlets told these voters to stop believing the facts — and rank-and-file Republicans did as they were told.

If there are still some GOP “moderates” in positions of influence who care about reality, I’m delighted and I can only hope they speak up. But they’re pretty late to the game, and the rout is already on.