How did I miss this whopper?! Republican Congressional candidate Rodney Davis claimed during a radio interview that climate change stopped sixteen years ago.
Clearly, you can tell that's true because over the last several years we definitely haven't had an unusual degree of extreme flooding along the Mississippi, no extreme droughts, and no Frankenstorms. Oh yeah, wait, those things are happening more often and it's exactly what scientists told us to expect as a result of climate change.
You can listen to his comment after the 42:00 minute mark during a Focus interview on WILL public radio. A caller asked Davis how he plans to deal with climate change (no, it wasn't me this time). Davis answered by claiming that, according to recent reports, "global warming stopped about sixteen years ago."
Then he launched into his usual repetition of the Exxon/Koch Brothers talking point that there's still a debate about whether man-made pollution is causing the crisis. It's the argument climate change deniers have retreated to now that it's impossible to ignore the change that's already happening. As always, he dodged saying where he stands on whether man-made pollutants are the problem. He has gone through the entire campaign refusing to tell which side of that debate he's on.
The caller interrupted Davis to tell him "that's absolutely wrong" about climate change stopping, and challenged him to talk to a noble prize winner at the University of Illinois about the scientific reality. That guy deserves a gold star. He may have been referring to a Professor of Atmospheric Science, Don Wuebbles, an outspoken, internationally recognized expert on climate issues who's right here in central Illinois.
I googled the wacky claim about global warming stopping sixteen years ago and discovered it has been making the rounds on right-wing blogs and talk radio shows like Glenn Beck. It started with discredited writer Davis Rose publishing an article in a conservative British tabloid, which claimed there's a report showing global temperatures stopped rising in 1996. The original report came from the British Met office.
The Met Office is the British version of the national weather service. They wrote a brutal, detailed response to what they describe as "misleading information" in the article. Here's may favorite part:
Secondly, Mr Rose says the Met Office made no comment about its decadal climate predictions. This is because he did not ask us to make a comment about them.
I can understand. Why bother asking for a comment if you're distorting an agency's data to claim something you know they will dismiss as false?
Their response gets technical, but they do point out that eight of the ten hottest years on record have been in the past decade. Looking at the broader trend, the "1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both." This is easy to confirm from multiple sources, such as those smarty pants who send people into space.
A Google search also turns up a load of responses from actual scientists who all debunk this bogus claim. It takes very little effort to confirm that the scientific community believes this writer is misleading the public.
What this suggests is that Davis will believe any inaccurate claim from conservative blogs or talk-radio that reinforces his views, and will repeat those falsehoods to the public without checking them out first. He's following the example of his former boss and BFF, John Shimkus, who went around his district misleading constituents with conspiracy theories about EPA regulating tractor dust on dirt roads, even after the EPA administrator told Congress that nothing of the sort was being considered.
I can understand why Davis mostly speaks to partisan crowds at private events. He has good talking points about bipartisanship and "all of the above" energy. But, it takes very little prodding for him to go off script and reveal how extremely conservative he really is. Putting Davis in front of moderate swing voters would only lose him votes. A district with over a dozen colleges doesn't want an anti-science Congressman.
Central Illinois has a long history of electing moderate Republicans from Ray LaHood To Abraham Lincoln. Rodney Davis is far outside that tradition.
First published at my blog, www.thereisaway.us.