Happy Friday Blog Readers,
I’m sure everyone is happy to hear that the election is now over. I for one was happy to hear President Obama finally mention climate change while he was delivering his victory speech Tuesday evening. For some reason, climate change has become a partisan issue. This has not always been the case. In 1989, Claudine Schneider, a Republican house member from Rhode Island sponsored a bill called H.R. 1078: The Global Warming Prevention Act of 1989. The bill died in committee, but if you look at the co-sponsors, no less than 27 were Republicans (including Newt Gingrich and Olympia Snowe. Some notable Democratic sponsors include Oregon’s very own Ron Wyden and Peter DeFazio).
At what point did people start downplaying climate change? Well, George H.W. Bush certainly didn’t deny climate change when he signed the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. And it wasn’t just President Bush agreeing with this, as the U.S. Senate approved the Framework Convention by unanimous consent. So at this point in 1992, the entire U.S. Senate was onboard.
During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Clinton tried, but was not successful at pushing through the $6.3 billion dollar Initiative on Global Climate Change.
As a presidential candidate in 2000, George W. Bush stated that global warming was an “issue we need to take very seriously.” Of course, after 9/11 and the subsequent recession, the American public became pretty distracted. And then came statements like this from Republican Jim Inhofe (Senate Chairman of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works) on the floor of the Senate in 2003: “I have offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax. That conclusion is supported by the painstaking work of the nation’s top climate scientists.” (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2004#TtrendsNational) He cited as support for this the 1992 Heidelberg Appeal and the 1999 Oregon Petition. In his speech, Inhofe also discussed the then current Soon and Baliunas controversy, and said that “satellite data, confirmed by NOAA balloon measurements, confirms that no meaningful warming has occurred over the last century.” Inhofe had no problem stating this even though 2003 was the 2nd hottest year in history (2012 was the hottest year on record).
This seemed to be the major turning point where politicians were able to get away with denying climate change without any real scientific evidence (the studies Inhofe used to back up his argument were not peer-reviewed studies and did not reflect the consensus of top climate scientists). Unfortunately, at this point, the wrath of increasingly devastating natural disasters seems to be the only effective way to convince skeptical politicians to buy into the phenomena and hopefully start addressing it. President Obama clearly acknowledges climate change is real and has taken steps to confront the issue, but for the dramatic change we need, he’s going to need help from both political parties to get it done in any serious fashion. Here’s to hoping he gets it done!