Two men clashed at a recent U.S. Senate hearing. One was a pre-eminent climate-scientist-turned-activist. The other was Wisconsin’s senior U.S. senator. Shame on you, Sen. Ron Johnson.
Johnson, a millionaire who married into his money, sparred with climatologist James Hansen, director of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at the Columbia University Earth Institute. Spouting off about glaciers in Wisconsin and other nonsense, Johnson proclaimed, “The science is far from settled.” Almost 100 percent of climate scientists would disagree, but Johnson is either possessed of higher intelligence or talking points from the Koch brothers.
He is among a clot of climate deniers who have blood on their hands. The League of Conservation Voters took him on a few months ago, claiming in TV ads that he voted for “unlimited carbon pollution.” Johnson protested, but PolitiFact Wisconsin checked his dismal voting record and found the statement to be unconditionally true.
PolitiFact added that Johnson has received $109,550 from oil and gas interests since the 2010 election. He has voted consistently to put no restrictions on carbon emissions.
Johnson, who by the way rarely directly interacts with constituents, is willing to put partisan politics ahead of human life. He and his pals practice ideology-based pseudo-science, supported by those who make billions from carbon consumption.
As PolitiFact noted, the world’s leading science academies have long warned that the planet is warming. In August 2013 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international panel of scientists, reiterated the role of human beings, saying in a draft report the odds are at least 95 percent that humans are the main cause of the warming in recent decades. Dozens of other commissions and panels have come to the same conclusion. But let’s not allow solid science get in the way of profit-taking and political posturing.
Hansen, who formerly was head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, appeared at the hearing to oppose the Keystone pipeline and argue for a modest carbon fee that would slowly rein in carbon consumption.
His is the story of a true American patriot. The son of a tenant farmer in Iowa, he made his way to the University of Iowa, where his zeal for knowledge was nurtured. During the latter part of his career at NASA, he dealt with efforts by the Bush administration to throttle him. Since leaving NASA, he has become increasing vocal on climate change. In a touching and informative TED Talk, Hansen says he’s doing it for his grandchildren.
He admits there was a time in his life that he could have called himself a “reticent Midwest scientist.” It’s safer that way, but those days are over. He knows too much. Watch the video and see for yourself. The reality will be more “New Orleans-like events,” droughts and other weather extremes if we don’t act. Drought will parch the Heartland, causing worldwide food shortages, Hansen says.
Johnson loudly and rudely disagrees. The difference is Hansen knows what he’s talking about. Johnson is all bluster and bombast. The old saying “Ignorance is bliss” may help frauds like Ron Johnson sleep at night. But it’s not doing our grandchildren any favors. They will deal with the messes we leave them as the world burns.