Members of Congress have gotten far too comfortable with their extreme anti-science views going unchallenged. So we knew our new campaign holding some of the biggest climate deniers in House and Senate accountable would ruffle a few feathers. But the strong reaction we're seeing is a reminder of just what we're up against, and how hard they're fighting to keep their constituents in the dark about their extreme views.
Earlier this week, the League of Conservation Voters launched a nearly $2 million nationwide television ad campaign holding members of Congress accountable for their denial of climate change. The ads target Senator Ron Johnson and Representatives Rodney Davis, Dan Benishek and Mike Coffman, and are already airing across their districts.
The reaction was swift. Before the ad was even released, Senator Johnson responded with offensive name-calling, saying that LCV is waging an "environmental jihad" and claiming an "unholy alliance" between President Obama and our work fighting for clean air and clean water. He knows he can't defend his extreme anti-science views, so he's lashing out with inflammatory and offensive rhetoric that has no place in our policy debates.
Senator Johnson should be nervous about his constituents hearing the truth about his views on climate change. He's said, "I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change. It's not proven by any stretch of the imagination... It's far more likely that it's sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time."
He not only ignores the proven science of climate change, he's also accepted more than a hundred thousand dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry while voting to let them spew unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air. His rhetoric and his record fly in the face of Wisconsin's proud history of protecting our environment.
But Sen. Johnson isn't alone, the House of Representatives is full of climate change deniers. But the Congressmen that are part of our campaign stand out. Rep. Davis pointed to unnamed reports claiming "global warming has stopped 16 years ago," Rep. Coffman has said that human influence on climate change is "subject to debate," and Rep. Benishek has called climate change "all baloney" and "just some scheme."
This is the classic language used by climate deniers. They're not only siding against NASA and 97 percent of scientists who all agree that human activity is contributing to climate change, their views also put them at odds with their own constituents, who support action on climate. And it comes at a time when the American people are seeing the effects of climate change right outside their window, from wildfires to droughts to extreme temperatures.
It's no wonder that respondents in our recent poll called climate change deniers "ignorant" and "out of touch." But constituents are holding their climate denying members of Congress accountable. Hundred of LCV members joined thousands of OFA members across the country earlier this week for a nationwide day of action to confront climate deniers in their districts. We're fighting back harder than ever against these anti-science views.
When we decided to call out these climate deniers, we knew they would fight back. Together with their oil-backed special interests, they're not used to seeing any consequences for being a climate change denier. But it's time we changed the rules of the debate. We should make clear to these climate change deniers that the American people are tired of these Washington politicians ignoring basic scientific facts and standing in the way of action on climate change.