climate zombies

They prowl the halls of Congress, moaning for caaasshh.

Their stupid has gone viral.

And if they win, humanity loses.

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I’m tracking Climate Zombies: every Republican candidate for House, Senate, and governor who doubts, denies, or derides the science of climate change. Today, a look at five states turns up one Republican who worries about his carbon footprint and a second who’s acknowledged climate science in the past.


Hardly a shock: the Koch brothers’ headquarters state is heavily infected. House candidate Tim Huelskamp (Kan.-01) authored state bill SR 1809, the resolution condemning the controversial recent EPA “endangerment finding” that greenhouse gasses (including methane and carbon dioxide) are “harmful pollutants.” Incumbent Rep. Lynn Jenkins (Kan.-02) tweeted on March 3, 2010 that: “I cosponsored a res. overturning an EPA rule that says man-made greenhouse gas emissions are a danger to public health”

House candidate Kevin Yoder (Kan.-03) has taken a remarkably low public profile.  

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House candidate Mike Pompeo (Kan.-Koch) deserves special mention. He’s nominally running for the Fourth District, but if elected he’ll be the representative from Koch. Koch supplies his original income, current wealth, and Political Action Committee.  

Jerry Moran, candidate for Senate, queries some scientists’ political agendas and which scientists are telling the truth. Incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.), upon returning from a trip to Antarctica, concedes that there is some warming but that “a lot of this is condescending elitism.” Kansas has until 2014 to prove to him that, no, condescending elitism doesn’t melt glaciers.

Sam Brownback, former senator now likely to become governor, may be a litmus test for the new GOP. In 2007, he acknowledged the reality of climate change:

“It seems to me just prudent that we recognize we have climate increase and temperature change,” he said. “We have CO2 loading and we need to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

As a devout social conservative, he took a number of positions at odds with Tea Party-dominated Republicans of today: pro-immigration reform, pro-prison reform, compassionate on foreign policy. Will his views on climate and other issues shift in this race?  

All Kansas GOP politicians except Yoder and Roberts have signed the Koch/Americans For Prosperity “no climate tax” pledge, so are presumed to be Climate Zombies. However, I’m counting Brownback as accepting climate science given the clear statement he made in 2007. Semi-final score: five Climate Zombies, one unknown, and one non-Zombie.


I’m in utter shock. Republican House candidate Kenneth Wegner (Nev.-01) includes, as part of an otherwise typical “all of the above” Republican energy strategy, this:

We should foster and encourage production of our own energy needs through the use of green technologies. Nuclear power needs to be more fully developed, and breeder reactors constructed to burn nuclear byproducts. We need to continue to prevent the loss of farm land in the fertile parts of our country, and promote the use of soil-replenishing natural fertilizers on our existing farmlands. We need to reduce our carbon footprint through alternate energy sources described above. [Emphasis mine.]

You don’t use the phrase “carbon footprint” unless you worry about carbon.  

Incumbent Rep. Dean Heller (Nev.-02) and candidate Joe Heck (Nev.-03) are far more typical Republicans: neither has said anything about climate science, but both have signed the Koch/AFP pledge.

Brian Sandoval, candidate for governor, hasn’t said anything regarding climate change.

And then there’s Sharron Angle (R-Area 51), running for Senate, the voice of calm reason … on her home planet. On this one, not so much.

Semi-final score: one unknown (Sandoval), two presumed Zombies, one obtuse Angle, and one GOP candidate who appears to acknowledge climate science. Wegner is the second Republican I’ve found in 16 states who does so.

Rhode Island

Hypothesis: even Republicans running for office in an oceanfront blue state will profess their love for the environment while avoiding controversial stands. Test: the Ocean State. Result: John Loughlin (R.I.-01) has taken the Koch/AFP pledge but professes to be a conservative with a strong record on conservation issues; Mark Zaccaria (R.I.-02) favors an all of the above energy policy; and gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille sounds downright moderate:

My goal is to protect our environment while encouraging smart growth, green industries and common-sense planning. We must protect Narragansett Bay and avoid doing anything that would endanger the environment, tourism, our marine trades industry and recreation.

Semi-final score: one potential Zombie, two who show no signs of being bitten by Teh Stoopid.

South Dakota

John Thune, running unopposed for Senate, is rumored to have 2012 presidential ambitions. His website alleges that scientific dissent is being suppressed at the Environmental Protection Agency because an economist complained. Well, I suppose economics is called the dismal science However, he looks sane in comparison to South Dakota’s other GOP candidates. Kristi Noems (S.D.) led a state legislature resolution finding a variety of astrological dynamics that can “effect world weather phenomena.” And the candidate for governor, Dennis Daugaard, “didn’t see how mankind could be the cause” of climate change. Noem and Thune have signed the Koch/AFP pledge.  

Semi-final score: 3 candidates, 3 Zombies.


Incumbent Reps. Phil Roe (Tenn.-01) and John Duncan (Tenn.-02) both try a variation on “teaching the controversy (that we just manufactured)” used by creationists: their websites don’t state their own views, but do cite the views of the few scientists, usually industry shills, who doubt global warming. Don’t fall for the appearance of neutrality — these representatives are Climate Zombies.

Incumbent Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.-07) belongs in the same category as Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell: a pretty face hiding scary thoughts, including a complaint that “climate scientists have a long track record of manipulating data to hide scientific evidence that contradicts the global warming establishment.”

I don’t have much information on challengers Chuck Fleischmann (Tenn.-03) (he favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.-04), or David Hall (Tenn.-05); the latter two signed the Koch/AFP pledge, so are presumed to be Climate Zombies.  Diane Black (Tenn.-06) complains about regulating “carbon as a pollutant.” Stephen Fincher (Tenn.-08) likewise wants to drill here, drill now, is a Tea Party type, and has taken the Koch/AFP pledge. I think Charlotte Bergmann (Tenn.-09) (“America should become energy independent. We have the resources! Tax laws should be used to encourage more use of our own resources in a clean, effective way.”) is more loopy than an actual denier. I also don’t have information on the attitude toward science of gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam.

Semi-final score: three clear Climate Zombies, five presumed to be infected, and two (Tenn.-09 and gov.) about whom I don’t have enough information to make a call.

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