10/09/2014 03:36 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2014

GOP Congressman Says His Medical Background Qualifies Him To Deny Climate Change

While more and more Republican candidates evade the questions about climate change by claiming they’re “not a scientist,” Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) says his medical background qualifies him to reject the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that emissions from human activity are causing the planet to heat up.

"The climate may be changing, but I don’t think man is contributing to it," Benishek said in an interview with ABC 10 News on Tuesday. “I think it’s just the natural course of things.”

Pressed to address scientific findings to the contrary, Benishek claimed that no peer-reviewed climate change studies have been able “to prove that there’s man-made catastrophic global warming.”

“Well, I am a scientist,” said Benishek, who worked as a general surgeon for nearly 30 years before running for Congress in 2011. “You know, I believe in peer-reviewed science. But, I don’t see any peer-reviewed science that proves there is man-made catastrophic climate change.”

As of 2013, 97 percent of more than 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers have concluded that human activity over the last century has contributed to global warming. Nearly 200 scientific organizations worldwide, including the American Medical Association, the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences also endorse the consensus position.

During a 2012 debate, Benishek was booed and laughed at by audience members for dismissing the threat of climate change to Michigan’s Great Lakes.

“Well, frankly, I’m not sure how significant global warming is. Well, I don’t know, I’m a scientist,” he said as the audience broke out in laughter. “Well I don’t know, I’ve studied medicine. I’ve written research papers, I’ve done peer review journals, I spent a lot of time in the sciences and you know I’m not exactly sure what’s happening with the climate.”



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