Pulitzer winning climate news.
facebook twitter subscribe
view counter

EagleFordProjectPreviewBlock

BloombergLegacyPreviewBlock

BusinessDeveloperAd



CleanBreakAdAmazon

Donate to InsideClimate News through our secure page on Network for Good.

GOP Not Listening to Its Own Scientists on Climate Change

GOP scientists say their attempts to talk about climate dangers with their party's politicians and their aides have largely fallen on deaf ears.

Feb 22, 2012
(Page 2 of 3 )
Rick Santorum speaking to the Republican Leadership Conference

Since 2010 Emanuel has written op-eds in the Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal and The Miami Herald on the need for leaders to tackle climate change and on the link between hurricanes and climate change. Last year he defended the science of climate change in front of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He has vowed to continue his efforts despite being bombarded with hate mail after appearing in a video for the Climate Desk, a collaboration of media organizations. In it, he disclosed that he was a conservative scientist, and he questioned why GOP leaders are hesitant to deal with the climate issue when moral responsibility is such a big theme for the party.

Emanuel continues to urge Republicans to pay attention to their own scientists. "It is important for GOP politicians to come to understand that scientists are basing their assessments of climate risk on hard, scientific evidence, not on politics," he said. "Naturally a Republican scientist is better positioned to make such a case."

Brigham Young University geochemist Barry Bickmore is a Mormon and active Republican, serving as a county delegate for the GOP from 2008 to 2010. Bickmore first got involved with his party's handling of climate change when he and other scientific colleagues in the state banded together to try to stop a 2010 Utah resolution that cast doubt on climate science and urged the Environmental Protection Agency to halt its efforts to regulate carbon emissions. The scientists said the resolution was riddled with scientific errors, but it won passage anyway.

Bickmore has since reached out to his state's U.S. senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, both Republicans, with offers to educate them on climate issues. Lee has yet to respond.  Bickmore did convince Hatch's office to remove a fake climate data graph from his public website. The web page, Climate Change 101, is still full of misinformation, Bickmore told InsideClimate News.

Neither Hatch nor Lee returned calls or emails seeking comment.

"[Hatch] didn't believe anything I was trying to tell him," said Bickmore. "He would come back and say that he knew some person who was a lead author of the IPCC [the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] ... and they told him this, that and the other thing." But the people he cited, Bickmore said, were prominent skeptics like John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric scientist at MIT. "The information [they were telling the senator] is wrong, and these scientists are in the minority."

Bickmore continues to try and educate Republican voters through his blog Anti-Climate Change Extremism in Utah, which receives about 11,000 hits each month and sums up what politicians and the media are saying about climate change. It also chronicles any misinformation being spread by skeptics and Bickmore's attempts to correct it.

Other scientists who once frequently contacted politicians, or were contacted by them, have decided it's a lost cause and have kept silent in recent years after being ignored by Washington or discouraged by policymakers' lack of interest.

Richard Alley, a highly regarded geoscientist at Penn State University who has authored hundreds of peer-reviewed papers on climate change, testified in front of Congress several times about global warming between the late 1990s and 2010. Alley also spoke to cabinet level people in the George W. Bush White House, he said. In the past few years, however, Alley has largely stayed away from Washington. He has been hesitant to reach out to policymakers since it's not on their radar. He is also afraid it won't do much good since everyone is "yelling for their attention on so many issues."

"I think the door isn't open right now to contact them," Alley said.
Comment space is provided for respectful discourse. Please consult our comment policies for more information. We welcome your participation in civil and constructive discussions.