Montana’s candidates for its lone seat in the US House illustrate the great divide between the parties on the issue of climate change perfectly.
The Republican candidate, Ryan Zinke, spouts the same “responsible” use and “anti-regulation” rhetoric as the rest of his party when it comes to energy solutions, ignoring the effects coal has on the environment.
The Democratic candidate, John Lewis, who also supports some fossil fuel use, is a champion for renewable energy and believes that wind and hydropower could change Montana’s role in the country’s energy sector. He also believes that climate change is manmade.
Zinke, of course, believes evidence that rising ocean temperatures are a “greater influence” on rising carbon-dioxide levels than pollution created by humans.
This belief was completely shot down by University of Montana professor and member of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Steve Running. He said that Zinke’s claim “doesn’t square with the facts at all.”
“We can say quite confidently that 90 to 95 [percent] of this carbon trend is human induced,” said Running. “A tiny fraction is natural variability. It’s the additions that humans are making, to what was close to a balanced system before.”
Zinke is by no means alone on his erroneous beliefs about climate change and its causes, and would be welcomed in congress by his fellow Republicans. More than half of the current GOP caucus in the House, 133 members, “deny the basic tenets of climate science.” Another 30 members of the Senate Republican caucus also deny climate change.
A ThinkProgress report shows some terrifying trends in the Republican leadership.
- 90 percent of the Republican leadership in both House and Senate deny climate change
- 17 out of 22 Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, or 77 percent, are climate deniers
- 22 out of 30 Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, or 73 percent deny the reality of climate change
- 100 percent of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans have said climate change is not happening or that humans do not cause it
The climate science deniers in the Senate have taken in almost $23 million in contributions from energy corporations, while the deniers in the House have raked in more than $36 million. From 2001 to March 2014, 430 disasters were declared as “climate-related,” and cost the US $188 billion in economic disasters.
That the GOP denies climate change at a rate directly proportional to the amount of money it’s given from dirty energy is no coincidence. It’s just further proof that they are willing to ignore the destruction of the planet by these corporations, as long as the cash keeps flowing.