Retired Republican Rep. Warns Party: Ignore Climate at Your Own Risk


Sherwood Boehlert, the former Republican House member from New York , penned an op-ed in the Washington Post today taking members of his party to task for denying climate change. Boehlert represented New York’s 24th District in Congress from 1983 until he retired in 2007, and is now a special adviser to the Project on Climate Science.

Like his fellow Republican Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Boehlert is baffled by the position of his colleagues:

It is a stance that defies the findings of our country’s National Academy of Sciences, national scientific academies from around the world and 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists.

Why do so many Republican senators and representatives think they are right and the world’s top scientific academies and scientists are wrong? I would like to be able to chalk it up to lack of information or misinformation.

I can understand arguments over proposed policy approaches to climate change. I served in Congress for 24 years. I know these are legitimate areas for debate. What I find incomprehensible is the dogged determination by some to discredit distinguished scientists and their findings.

Boehlert continued that the “natural aversion to more government regulation” should not be used “as an excuse to deny the problem’s existence.” He also warned that it’s short-sighted. “My fellow Republicans should understand that wholesale, ideologically based or special-interest-driven rejection of science is bad policy,” he said. “And that in the long run, it’s also bad politics.”

Both Boehlert and Inglis stand as rare examples in their party today; as a comprehensive survey of the scene from the Center for American Progress notes, the breakdown of the incoming class on the subject is pretty bleak:

Well over half (55 percent) of the incoming Republican caucus are climate zombies. Thirty-five of the 46 (76 percent) Republicans in the U.S. Senate next year publicly question the science of global warming. Of the 240 Republicans elected to the House of Representatives, 125 (52 percent) publicly question the science.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.