It’s only natural: One Republican’s take on climate change

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US Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner tells Heartland conference rising CO2 levels are good, and will make it ‘easier to feed 7 billion people.’

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Climate Progress

Speaking at the Heartland Institute’s climate denial conferencein Chicago this afternoon, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said that labeling heat-trapping carbon dioxide a pollutant is “propaganda.”

Sensenbrenner is a long-time climate disinformer who says that the science of man-made global warming is an “international conspiracy.” He also happens to be Vice Chair of the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology.

Blatantly ignoring the “science” part of his committee responsibilities, the Congressman today attempted to argue against the basic physics of CO2 in the atmosphere:

“CO2 is a natural gas. Does this mean that all of us need to put catalytic converters on all our noses? The fact that people think CO2 is a pollutant … basically goes into propaganda.”

In fact, the so-called “radiative forcing” of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels has contributed enough heat in the atmosphere over the last century to equal roughly half a billion Hiroshima nuclear bombs each year. As one researcher explained: “When there’s more energy radiating down on the planet than there is radiating back out to space, something’s going to have to heat up.”

Rep. Sensenbrenner took his unscientific personal conclusions one step further, saying he believed CO2 would help “crop yields go up” and make it “easier to feed 7 billion people.”

“I’m not one of the people going around saying CO2 is bad for you,” he concluded.

In fact, scientists around the world are calling man-made global warming one of the biggest threats to agricultural production. In Texas, a brutal warming-driven drought cost farmers $7.5 billion last year; In Thailand, “weather whiplash” in 2010 devastated rice crops, causing $40 billion in lost economic productivity; and in Mexico, severe drought reduced agricultural output by 40% already this year.

These incidents came as world food prices hit record highs in 2011 due to a combination of extreme weather events and rising oil prices. In the lead-up to these global price spikes, 2010 was the warmest year on record globally — with 19 nations setting all-time heat records.

Sensenbrenner delivered his speech to a crowd of roughly 200 people at the Heartland Institute’s 7th annual international climate conference — a yearly gathering for the nation’s most active climate change disinformers. The Heartland Institute has come under fire in recent weeks for a disastrous billboard campaign linking people who understand human-caused global warming to mass murderers. Since the billboard was put up, 12 companies have pulled their support for Heartland in the lead-up to the conference.

Sensenbrenner ended his speech with an appropriate anecodote. He referenced New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman, who wrote in a 2009 column that climate deniers were practicing “treason against the planet.”

“Mr. Krugman, I plead guilty as charged,” boasted Sensenbrenner — a politician who helps oversee one of the most important scientific committees in Congress.

The crowd burst into gleeful laughter.

Sensenbrenner also assured the crowd that Mitt Romney would not take action on global warming. When asked by an attendee who said he was “scared to death” that Romney would change his stance on man-made global warming and support renewable energy, Sensenbrenner replied, ” I don’t think that’s true. I talked to Romney before the Wisconsin primary.”

This article was originally published by Climate Progress – thinkprogress.org/climate. Reproduced with permission.

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