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09/28/2011 08:51 AM     print story email story  

EU Climate Commissioner Shocked by US Climate Denial News

Who needs science when the deep pockets of entrenched fossil fuel industries will tell you what to believe?

EU Climate Chief Connie Hedegaard says of the US Republican Presidential candidates who are falling over themselves to deny the reality of climate change, "I'm shocked that the political debate in the US is so far away from the scientific facts." 

"When more than 90 percent of researchers in the field are saying that we have to take [climate change] seriously, it is incredibly irresponsible to ignore it. It's hard for a European to understand how it has become so fashionable to be anti-science in the US," she continues in an interview with Politiken, a Danish newspaper.

"And when you hear American presidential candidates denying climate change, it's difficult to take," she adds.

Among the candidates for the GOP Presidential nomination, only Jon Huntsman has expressed any degree of support for the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real. Rick Perry of Texas has accused scientists of manipulating data, while Michelle Bachman simply states that climate change is a hoax.

At last week's opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative, former President Bill Clinton said of the GOP climate deniers, "We look like a joke, right? You can't win the nomination of one of our major parties if you admit the scientists are right."

At a recent fundraiser, President Obama said:

"Some of you here may be folks who actually used to be Republicans but are puzzled by what's happened to that party. Has anybody been watching the debates lately? You've got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change."

American Attitudes

Recent polls show the percentage of Americans who believe climate change is real increased from 75% last year to 83%. Republican attacks on science were cited as a major factor in the increase.

Polls also show that Americans overwhelmingly want the US to focus on renewable energy and move away from fossil fuels. 

51% of Americans (same as last year)  worry a great deal or fair amount about climate change, even 31% of Republicans.

60% of Fox News viewers believe "Most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring," compared to 30% who never watch Fox, as an example of the Republican misinformation campaign.  

In December 2009, Fox News managing editor Bill Sammon ordered reporters and producers that report on even the most unequivocal scientific facts about global warming to dispute those facts " IMMEDIATELY."

Even with all the misinformation, poll after poll finds that the public wants to reduce global warming pollution "even if it means an increase in the cost of energy" and 63% of Americans say "EPA needs to do more to hold polluters accountable and protect the air and water."

But public opinion has not yet succeeded in swaying the Republican-dominated House, which wants to strip Department of Energy (DOE) programs for renewable energy and electric vehicle development and which is rolling out a long series of initiatives to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and polluters. 

EU Position

Commissioner Hedegaard predicts the upcoming COP-17 meeting on climate change, to be held in South Africa in November, will end without a binding agreement, largely because of the intransigent US position.

The EU signed the Kyoto Protocol and has been leading the world in addressing climate change and developing incentives for strong renewable energy development. In 2007, the EU committed to reduce emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, and has offered much steeper cuts if other major emitting countries agree to an international deal.

They implemented the world's only cap-and-trade system which now covers most industries, and is being taken to task for its plan to include the airline industry next year.

Read the interview:


Reader Comments (1)


Date Posted:
09/29/11 06:00 AM

Our best hope lies in good critical thinking and science based education for our youth. Evidence based decision making is currently lacking in too many "in it for me, in it for profit, in it for money, in it for power" politicians. A finite planet cannot continue with unfettered growth and resource exploitation.

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