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U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, told a student in January that, "It is in fact a fact that the polar ice caps are bigger today than they were before…we have had 18 years of no significant warming whatsoever." (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Are You Represented By a Climate Denier? The Chances Are Pretty Good.

Fully 59 percent of the Republican House caucus and 70 percent of Republicans in the Senate fit the bill, according to new research

Deirdre Fulton

More than six in 10 Americans are represented by a climate denier in Congress, according to new research from the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF).

CAPAF researchers "classified any lawmaker who has questioned or denied the scientific consensus behind human-caused climate change, individuals who answered climate questions with the 'I’m not a scientist' dodge, those who claimed the climate is always changing, and individuals who questioned the extent to which human beings contribute to global climate change, as deniers."

Fully 59 percent of the Republican House caucus and 70 percent of Republicans in the Senate fit the bill, the group said. These elected officials, who represent more than 202 million Americans, have raked in more than $73 million from fossil fuel industries over the course of their careers.

And their positions put them at odds with the vast majority of the general public. One recent poll showed that 76 percent of Americans said they believed climate change is occurring—including 59 percent of Republicans—while another found that a majority of Americans believe they are "morally obligated" to fight global warming. 

It's not just in the U.S. that the GOP's climate denial sets it apart from the consensus.

As columnist Jonathan Chait wrote last year, "Of all the major conservative parties in the democratic world, the Republican Party stands alone in its denial of the legitimacy of climate science. Indeed, the Republican Party stands alone in its conviction that no national or international response to climate change is needed. To the extent that the party is divided on the issue, the gap separates candidates who openly dismiss climate science as a hoax, and those who, shying away from the political risks of blatant ignorance, instead couch their stance in the alleged impossibility of international action."

ThinkProgress, a publication of CAPAF, notes:

That denial and opposition manifests regularly in Congress, as last month over 200 lawmakers signed onto a court brief opposing President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Late last year, the House passed two resolutions attempting to kill the plan, which would regulate carbon emissions from power plants, as required by the Clean Air Act. The measures passed mostly, but not entirely, along party lines, though fueled largely by the votes of climate deniers. A similar thing happened in the Senate the prior month, and President Obama promptly vetoed both resolutions. This congressional activity happened in the face of polls showing Republican support for the carbon regulations in key states, and praise from hundreds of local chambers of commerce.

To further underscore the dangers of climate denial, CAPAF presented its data alongside the number of climate-related natural disasters—from coastal storms and flooding to drought and wildfires—declared in each state over the last five years.

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