Ron JohnsonWisconsin’s Ron Johnson, climate change denier and GOP candidate for U.S. Senate.

GOP candidates for Senate are rushing to pander to their extremist anti-science Tea Party base by denying even our most basic understanding of climate science. Most notably we’ve seen the dumbing down of Carly Fiorina. Politico has an article today that examines this trend:

Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate, and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

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Yes, the center-right publication feels obliged to open their piece by repeating the absurd charge, which it itself dismisses later, “Four independent reviews have concluded that the so-called ‘Climategate’ emails stolen last fall from a United Kingdom research unit showed nothing more than a frank discussion among scientists working through large and complicated sets of data.”

The piece has a long list of GOP candidates — including Sharron Angle (Nev.) and Ken Buck (Colo.) — expressing varying degrees of scientific denial and pro-pollution palaver. The most anti-scientific statements came this week from Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, who called scientists and all those who believe in human causes of climate change, “crazy.” As Think Progress reports:

Wisconsin businessman and U.S. Senate candidate for the Republican Party Ron Johnson gave a wide-ranging interview to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel [on Monday]. Johnson, a global warming skeptic, detailed his views on climate change and explained that he believes that extreme weather occurring across the globe — like record flooding in Pakistan and massive forest fires in Russia — may not be a result of man-made global warming, and that it’s “far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity”:

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A global warming skeptic, Johnson said extreme weather phenomena were better explained by sunspots than an overload of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as many scientists believe. “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change,” Johnson said. “It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination.”

Johnson, in an interview last month, described believers in manmade causes of climate change as “crazy” and the theory as “lunacy.”

“It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time,” he said. Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere “gets sucked down by trees and helps the trees grow,” said Johnson. Average Earth temperatures were relatively warm during the Middle Ages, Johnson said, and “it’s not like there were tons of cars on the road.”

In fact, sunspots have been at a historic low. As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson notes, “Severe weather fueled by global warming pollution is having an even more devastating impact around the world. … All of these disasters were predicted by climate scientists as a consequence of greenhouse gas pollution from burning fossil fuels.” Unfortunately, Johnson’s anti-science, anti-environment views aren’t limited to his bizarre theory about sunspots. Last June, he claimed that global warming saved Wisconsin from turning into a glacier, saying he was “glad there’s global warming … We’d be standing on top of a 200-foot thick glacier.” He has also told the press he is open to oil drilling in Wisconsin’s Great Lakes.

It is sad that a candidate for major national office can simply spout long-debunked, anti-scientific right-wing talking points and publications like the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel simply report them with no scientific response as if they were just part of the reasonable give-and-take of political debate.

Obviously human emissions of greenhouse gases can warm the planet and change the climate — that’s why they’re called greenhouse gases.

And the sunspot canard is about as nonsensical as one can get. It has been debunked to death.

Indeed a major 2007 study concluded:

Here we show that over the past 20 years, all the trends in the Sun that could have had an influence on the Earth’s climate have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures.

If the media won’t hold candidates accountable for their pro-pollution disinformation, the public must.