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With Skeptics Like These

With climate-change getting prominent play on the Hill, the skeptics have been raising a little hell, pooh-poohing the science and cautioning against the economic armageddon that will result from any serious attempt to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. 

Fair enough. If the internet age has taught us anything it's that everyone is entitled to their opinion.

But here's the weird thing: As noted in today's hilarious WaPo piece, some of the most vocal doubters don't even seem to be trying anymore--or rather, as often as not, their complaints don't have any basis in the discussion at hand.

The best example mentioned is House Minority Leader John Boehner's assertion, "The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical."

Hey, I'll do Boehner one better and say that such an idea is completely comical. But since no one is making that claim, I'm not sure what it has to do with the price of whiskey in Ireland.

Luckily for Boehner, the always illuminating RNC chairman Michael Steele has his back on the subject. Guest hosting on Bill Bennett's radio show last month, Steele assured listeners that "We're cooling. We're not warming," and cited Greenland's once being green as evidence of the phenomenon. ("Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about.") Asked to clarify Steele's assertion that "the supposed warming" "is part of the cooling process," a Republican spokeswoman later explained that the chairman's position mirrored that of the GOP platform. Except that the party platform, notes the Post, doesn't mention global cooling.

And then there's Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who has taken to warning that a cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide would wind up starving the globe's plants, which, Shimkus apparently recalls from his 4th grade science class, use the gas for photosynthesis. Even the guy at the CATO institute who spends his days challenging the climate-change science thought that sounded half-baked. 

This isn't to suggest that climate-change skeptics are all nutty or disingenuous or willfully ignorant. But they might want to fine-tune their objections a bit before attempting a full-court press on this issue.

--Michelle Cottle