The failure of the U.S. Senate to act on a comprehensive climate change and clean energy bill before the August recess makes it highly unlikely that such legislation will pass this year, which only serves to underscore the importance of the make-up of the U.S. Senate following this November's midterm elections.
Unfortunately, a disturbing trend has emerged this year among the Republican Senate candidates running as challengers or in open seat races: a refusal to accept the sound and settled science that man-made carbon pollution is causing the planet to warm. Simply put, these candidates are full-fledged global warming deniers. If they win, the number of card-carrying members of the "Flat Earth Society" will rise exponentially in the world's greatest deliberative body.
To be clear, despite an orchestrated misinformation campaign -- funded in large part by the oil industry and other corporate polluters -- independent scientific bodies across the world have found that climate change is unequivocal and driven largely by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of forests. Worse yet, the impacts are occurring far faster than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected in its comprehensive 2007 report. Arctic sea ice is melting faster than anticipated. We just witnessed the hottest decade, hottest year, and hottest 6 months in the history of recorded temperature. The devastating floods in Pakistan and the forest fires in Russia are the latest reminders of the deadly impact of a warming world.
Yet far too many of the Republican candidates looking to join the U.S. Senate have taken positions on climate change that are decidedly outside of the mainstream.
To cite a few examples, Wisconsin candidate Ron Johnson claims, "I think it is far more likely it is just sunspots," while Nevada candidate Sharon Angle says, "I don't buy into the man-caused global warming mantra." Colorado candidate Ken Buck admits, "I am one of those people who Al Gore refers to as a skeptic" and Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt says, "there isn't any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth." Similar head-in-the-sand remarks are being echoed by Republican Senate candidates across the nation, including California, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Florida. More information on the extreme views of these and other Republican Senate candidates can be found at www.flatearth.tv.
It's important to note that this rampant denial of accepted science is not entirely symptomatic of the Republican Party.
In 2009, eight Republicans bucked leadership and bravely voted for passage of the American Clean Energy & Security Act. They voted for this legislation because they understood what was at stake: clean energy jobs, greater security and less pollution for their constituents at home.
But backed by Big Oil and other dirty energy interests, Republican Senate leaders have led the charge to block any progress on transitioning our country to a clean energy economy and a new guard is waiting in the wings, ready to rubberstamp Republican leadership's directive to obstruct all efforts to reform our nation's energy policies.
Recent primary results in Alaska and Delaware are the latest examples that the "Flat Earthers" are on the rise. A science-deaf Joe Miller, now the Alaska Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, has said that "We haven't heard there's man-made global warming." In Delaware, recently crowned Republican nominee Christine O'Donnell has deemed urgent action on climate unnecessary.
The November elections are less than 30 days away. If these "Flat Earthers" are allowed to replace climate champions in November, they will waste the untapped potential of America's clean energy future. To protect the planet for future generations, to create new economic opportunities for American workers and to increase our national security, we must elect lawmakers who will continue the fight to create a clean energy economy and solve the climate crisis.