By John Hart
The left-leaning Center for American Progress published a report this week called “Climate Deniers in the 117th Congress” that claims 109 representatives and 30 senators (52 percent of House Republicans and 60 percent of Senate Republicans) are “climate deniers.”
The “analysis” – a term I use here as loosely as possible – caught our attention because many of these so-called “climate deniers” appear on our Right Voices site where they describe the challenge of climate change as quite real and propose solutions. You can see these “deniers” here and here (note: CAP did not provide member quotes backing up their claims).
The “climate denier” charge is not new. In fact, it’s a franchise with many sequels, each of which gets less scary and more silly over time, like the Halloween films. The oil and gas and dark money subplots never change. But the number of villains seems to be shrinking, which makes CAP’s exercise feel even more contrived.
The most telling part about CAP’s “methodology” – a term, again, I use loosely – is that all Democrats are the good guys and only Republicans are the bad guys. CAP fails to quote a single climate scientist who describes the issue in such hyperbolic and hyper-partisan terms. In fact, most reputable climate scientists see this approach as anti-science and view the needless polarization of the topic as a threat to progress, consensus and durable solutions.
CAP undermines the scientific method by belittling people who asked hard questions as “deniers.” Being a skeptic doesn’t make someone a denier; it makes them a scientist. Science that is “settled” is by definition not science, but ideology masquerading as science. Even when there is consensus, science welcomes outliers and naysayers because inquiry makes the science stronger. What CAP offers is a self-indulgent cancel culture how-to and festival of political tribalism. Shouting down and bullying the opposition with sanctimonious name-calling is good for fundraising but bad for fact-finding and problem solving. When it comes to climate, progressives are pyromaniacs in a field of strawmen next to a forest.
CAP also stretches their definition of “denier” to capture those who describe the issue in global terms. Diminishing the role of China and India in emitting greenhouse gases is deeply anti-science but reinforces the Green New Deal’s central fantasy that if we enact this socialist manifesto a carbon curtain will descend from the heavens and block CO2 from entering our sovereign territory. Science, of course, tells us the flow of CO2 in the atmosphere is not impeded by national virtue-signaling, however earnest.
The reality is a supermajority of Republicans in the House and Senate believe the planet is warming and that humans are contributing, but they view climate alarmism as intellectually dishonest. (No, this is not based on a formal poll. My methodology is a testimonial. I’ve worked in conservative politics on and off Capitol Hill for almost 25 years and have some experience discerning what members are saying and not saying). For anyone more interested in solutions than rank partisanship, this is good news.
Yet, like the good guys in the Halloween films, the alarmists continue to compete with each other to offer the most ear-piercing scream. This has little to do with advancing climate solutions. Progressives are instead trying to titillate and entertain their base. Climate change is a third or fourth-tier issue. Progressives are more interested in using climate as a rallying cry (or shriek) to mobilize voters around their more important priorities like Medicare for All, universal basic income and free college.
For all the left’s talk about existential threats nothing in their behavior suggests they believe their own doomsday rhetoric (i.e. they’re irrationally suspicious of nuclear energy and refuse to acknowledge fracking’s success in reducing greenhouse gas emission). Consider this fact: For the cost of Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus, we could have substantially replaced fossil fuel generation with nuclear energy but expanding Obamacare’ subsidies was the more pressing priority.
What’s really driving the left’s tired “climate denier” messaging project is old-fashioned political fear and resentment. Progressives view the growing center-right consensus on climate as an existential political threat. They view new entrants as intruders who must be branded as “deniers” before we expose the degree to which the left is lying to their political base. Conservatives are more serious and want to move faster than progressives who want to take the country on self-indulgent socialist detours.
Finally, CAP goes out of its way to belittle those who believe in “vague” market solutions and innovation as insufficiently devoted to the cause. They apparently omitted John Kerry’s recent statements in their analysis.
As reported by Energy and Environment news:
Kerry better be careful. With that innovation heresy CAP may dunk him in water and see if he floats. For his endorsement of the conservative worldview, we’ve added him to Right Voices.