climate zombies

They prowl the halls of Congress, moaning for caaasshh.

Their stupid has gone viral.

And if they win, humanity loses.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

I’m tracking Climate Zombies: every Republican candidate for House, Senate, and governor who doubts, denies, or derides the science of climate change. Today, I finish up all states west of the Rocky Mountains, throw in Minnesota as a bonus, and find not one, but two Republican incumbents who admit the reality of climate change.

The extraordinary hostility of this year’s crop of Republican candidates toward climate science, which started being documented in the blogosphere, is finally drawing mainstream attention. Two columns from very different points of view come to nearly identical conclusions. In the conservative-leaning National Journal, Ronald Brownstein discusses “GOP Gives Climate Science A Cold Shoulder“:

Republicans in this country are coalescing around a uniquely dismissive position on climate change. The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones … it is difficult to identify another major political party in any democracy as thoroughly dismissive of climate science as is the GOP here.

Michael Mann, the Penn State climate scientist whose emails were spun by climate deniers, has a personal reason for urging the country to get the anti-science bent out of politics:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Challenges to policy proposals for how to deal with this problem should be welcome — indeed, a good-faith debate is essential for wise public policymaking.

But the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science.

How can I assure young researchers in climate science that if they make a breakthrough in our understanding about how human activity is altering our climate that they, too, will not be dragged through a show trial at a congressional hearing?


For a blue-green state, Oregon is surprisingly infested. Senate candidate Jim Huffman, who signed the Koch/Americans For Prosperity “no climate tax” pledge, demonizes settled science. Gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley had been described as “squirrelly” on the issue until last week’s debate when he told the nation that “I don’t know how much [global warming] is man-made and how much is natural.” Incumbent Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.-02) is the bosom buddy of Rep. Joe Barton (Texas-06). House candidate Scott Bruun (Ore.-05), reversing positions taken in 2006, now believes that the jury is out. I don’t have any information on challenger Rob Cornilles, running for Congress in a very green district (Ore.-01), although his website seems to favor green energy.

Logging-obsessed House candidate Delia Lopez (Ore.-03) may have the most brainless statement du jour on her website:

By harvesting the trees and burning what’s leftover on large sections of forest we break the cycle of disease and death caused by the mismanagement of court battles and government agencies.  Burning of what’s leftover cuts the acidity of soil and water and kills bugs and diseases, then replanting completes the cycle.  Young rapidly growing Douglas fir trees are one of the most efficient carbon removal systems available!  Now the oceans are becoming more acidic as well and would be helped by the same process. When you warm water it does not change the PH.  Those who believe global warming is a problem and carbon is contributing, should be behind this plan, when a tree dies in the forest and begins to decay, the carbon it has inhaled is released into the atmosphere! So if the tree is 80 it will release 480 tons of carbon into the atmosphere, if the same tree is cut down for Lumber and homes are constructed with the wood, the carbon remains locked in the dwelling! A rapidly growing Douglas fir tree removes 6 tons of carbon from the atmosphere annually. That is more than the average family of 4 produces!

When I first started this project, my inbox buzzed with emails telling me to look at House candidate Art Robinson (Ore.-04), a known denier and creator of skeptic groups. Now the rest of America knows why.

Semi-final score: 6 out of 7 candidates clearly infected, no information on lucky number 7.


Bad news: Senate candidate Cam Cavasso rejects the “false premise of global warming.” Good news: candidate for governor Duke Aiona sounds fairly reasonable on energy and environment issues, although I can’t find anything specifically addressing climate change. Same for incumbent-since-May-2010 Rep. Charles Djou (Hawaii-01). Very little is known about John Willoughby (Hawaii-02) beyond his endorsement by Sarah Palin.

Semi-final score: one clearly infected candidate, three unknowns.


House candidate Randy Demmer (Minn.-01) believes that “cap and trade is driven by extreme environmental ideology,” although his website also pushes wind. I’m counting him as a “probable” denier. Both incumbent Rep. John Kline (Minn.-02) and challenger Teresa Collett (Minn.-04) have avoided saying anything specifically denying climate science, although they’re both very conservative. I also don’t have any information on challenger Joel Demos (Minn.-05). House candidate Lee Byberg (Minn.-07) hasn’t said anything that I found since deciding to run; before that, he founded a Citizens Energy Plan that tried to walk a middle path on “global warming gridlock.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.-06) believes that “Carbon dioxide, Mister Speaker, is a natural byproduct of nature. Carbon dioxide is natural.” Candidate Chip Cravaack (Minn.-08) likewise considers last fall’s manufactured “climategate” non-scandal to be “a milestone in the decline of Anthropogenic Global Warming theology. Science long suspected of being loosely tethered to reality is now known to have been corrupt as well.” And gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer believes that “Climate has been changing long before we got here and it will be changing long after we’re gone.”

Which brings me to incumbe
nt Rep. Erik Paulsen (Minn.-03), who sees a need to reduce carbon emissions even while disliking the cap-and-trade mechanism of doing so. That makes him the fifth Republican, in 25 states, who acknowledges the science of climate change.

Semi-final score: Two unknowns, three probable deniers, three Climate Zombies, and one sane person.

Northern Rocky Mountain States — Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

In Idaho, Sen. Mike Crapo believes that “While there is no dispute over the fact that the Earth’s climate has changed many times over the planet’s history, the underlying cause of these climactic shifts is ultimately not well-understood and is a matter of vigorous debate.” Catty note: His webpage also refers to President Bush in the present tense. Gov. Butch Otter, up for reelection, instituted statewide greenhouse gas programs in 2007; since then he’s been too busy complaining about wolves to speak on climate science, and I’m counting him as an unknown. Candidate Raul Labrador (Idaho-01) hasn’t spoken on climate (that I can find), but he’s very conservative and has signed the AFP/Koch “no climate tax” pledge.

Still don’t believe that the AFP/Koch climate tax pledge is relevant? Incumbent Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho-02) is generally perceived as very conservative, but he states: “I share the concern of many Idahoans for our environment and recognize that we must do what we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) where possible.” He’s being challenged by independent Brian Schad, who has signed the AFP/Koch pledge.

In Montana, incumbent Rep. Denny Rehlberg is counted as a probable denier, as is Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis. Matt Mead, running for Wyoming governor, is unconvinced that climate change is man-made.

Semi-final score in three states: one unknown, six Climate Zombies, and the sixth sane person in 25 states.