Ron Johnson
Sen. Ron Johnson: He was for climate denial before he was neutral about it.
Gage Skidmore

An ad campaign targeting climate-denying politicians appears to be having something of an effect.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), under fire for being a climate denier in a world ravaged by climate change, this week denied believing that humans are not warming the planet. Yet the senator still will not acknowledge the basic fact that humans are warming the planet.

Confused? So are we. But we’ll try to explain.

Johnson is one of four members of Congress being targeted by a $2 million TV advertising campaign funded by the League of Conservation Voters. LCV went after Johnson because of statements he’s made denying climate science, like in 2010 when he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change,” and speculated that sunspots or “something in the geologic eons of time” might instead be responsible for the changing weather.

But on Wednesday, Johnson stepped back from such strong assertions. During a Madison Rotary Club luncheon, he said he’s a “strong environmentalist.” (What is this — 1984?) Here were his comments to the group when asked about climate change, as reported by the Isthmus Daily Page:

“I don’t have a belief one way or the other,” he told the crowd of some 300 Rotarians. “I’m willing to accept the science. I’m willing to accept the facts. What I’m not willing to accept is that until we know conclusively what’s doing it and if any action we take would have any kind of measurable impact, I don’t think we should be spending trillions of dollars unilaterally.”

Here’s the thing: If you “don’t have a belief” that humans are changing the climate, then you are a climate denier.

This is the LCV ad that appears to have fueled Johnson’s half-hearted flip-flop: