Wisconsin voters will take part in electing officials this November who will play an integral role in shaping our national policy for years to come. But it seems as though everyone is missing an enormous red flag — some of the candidates are blatantly denying science to the point where it poses a real threat to our future.
There is an undeniable scientific consensus concerning anthropogenic climate change. From 1991 to 2011, among anthropogenic climate change, 97.1 percent expressed the consensus view that humans are causing climate change.
Despite this overwhelming consensus, we seem to have more than a few politicians who either cannot seem to grasp this idea, or simply won’t.
Let’s start with the man at the center of many people’s attention: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump has flatly denied ACC and opposed policy to combat it on numerous occasions.
For instance, he tweeted, “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
Granted, Trump has been known to make outlandish and absurd statements before, so this is no anomaly in that department. But rarely are his childlike exclamations as potentially consequential as this.
Instead, Trump usually spends his days hurling juvenile insults at anyone or anything that will garner him attention or repeatedly proclaiming his own intelligence, wealth and/or handsomeness. But his comments on global warming are in a completely different category.
While his insults and humorous self-obsession rarely have any real effect on the course of our country or future policy, Trump means what he says about climate change.
Earlier this year, he said, “[I will] cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of the United States’ tax dollars to UN global warming programs.”
This would be detrimental to a deal that is quite possibly the most significant step the world has ever collectively taken in the right direction regarding climate change. As terrible as Trump would be on so many issues of importance, none would have a more consequential effect on the people of the U.S. and the world than his policy on our environment.
In addition to the presidential decision, Wisconsin voters will also have to choose a U.S. senator. Former Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold will run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc. Johnson may be legally blind to scientific evidence and somehow worse on the environment than Trump.
Johnson has said he “absolutely doesn’t believe in the science of man-made climate change,” and “It’s far more likely that it’s sunspot activity.”
Johnson has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in business and accounting, and has worked his whole life in business and politics.
Now, by no means am I saying people who have studied disciplines other than the sciences are disqualified to become involved in them or speak on them. But I simply cannot explain where Johnson gets the impression he has the knowledge or experience to not only contradict a community of scientists on the world’s most pressing issue, but also to assert that he has more knowledge on the issue than they do.
Johnson has a bevy of alarming quotes on climate change, but perhaps the most unbelievable example is his declaration that “Climate hasn’t warmed in quite a few years, that is proven scientifically.” 2015 was literally the hottest year ever recorded.
Either Johnson can’t read, never has read or doesn’t know what “scientifically” means, and whichever it is, he’s not qualified for middle school student council, let alone the U.S. Senate.
The only thing more insane than these politicians’ blatant disregard for alarming scientific evidence is the lack of accountability and alarm from the voters. A recent Pew poll found the environment ranked 12th in importance among likely voters.
Make no mistake, climate change is the most important issue of our generation. We, as UW students and Wisconsin voters, need to hold candidates accountable and place more weight behind our environment. Because as important as the economy is, I’m guessing it wouldn’t be a huge help to the gross domestic product if Florida were underwater.
Kort Driessen ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in neurobiology.