Monday, April 25, 2011

Congressional Climate Cranks

This Article originally appeared on the Operation Free blog on 21 April, 2011.

Climate change is happening. It is a fact; sad but true. The U.S. Department of State has opened an office tasked specifically with responding to its effects, and the CIA has done the same. All branches of the U.S. military are taking steps to address their carbon footprint and reduce energy use. They all understand that climate change is a scientific fact. They’re not alone.

All major energy and oil companies claim to be taking steps to address climate change caused by the use of their products. The American Petroleum Institute touts its members’ efforts on the issue. A look at the television ads and websites for oil firms such as ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron state these firms believe climate change is occurring as a result of their products. They may disagree as to how much fossil fuels are contributing to carbon emissions, but they acknowledge they are and climate change is happening.

All of America’s national security institutions have taken action to address climate change and private-sector oil companies acknowledge it is a truth and are acting as well. So why can’t some Congressmen accept these facts? A look at their records on the issue is instructive. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and four of his top five campaign contributors are energy or auto companies. He and former chair Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) also own thousands in stock in energy companies. Barton is famous for apologizing to BP’s CEO after they agreed to pay for their Gulf oil spill. Committee member John Shimkus (R-IL) is also remembered for his stated belief that God won’t allow climate change and that reducing carbon will take away plant food.

With these characters in charge of America’s climate and energy policy, it isn’t hard to see why nothing gets done. These guys aren’t climate “skeptics”; they’re climate cranks.