Has the GOP turned a corner on climate change denial?

  • Published on March 5th, 2019

With record levels of Americans recognizing the scientific consensus on climate change and beginning to experience the impacts of warming first hand, some Republicans have begun shifting their language to reflect a softer form of denial, focused on buzzwords like “innovation.”

climate change deniers tom toles

By Climate Denier Roundup

But not everyone appears to be on board. For example, at a press conference that might’ve had more participants than audience members, Arizona Rep Paul Gosar responded to a young person’s question about his plan to address climate change with a pretty clear botching of the “CO2 is good for plants” line of denial. (You might remember him as the candidate whose own siblings encouraged the public NOT to vote for him in part because, in the words of his sister, “it would be difficult to see my brother as anything but a racist.”)

Gosar told the young questioner that they “haven’t been taught about photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is where plants take carbon dioxide to produce oxygen. That’s a problem in today’s world. We haven’t taught kids exactly what’s going on in America and in science.”

After Axios reported his comments, he felt the need to clarify that “At no point did I say the climate wasn’t changing. Pure lie. And for you or anyone to assert photosynthesis is not a part of the CO2 cycle reflects true ignorance.”

But it is unclear why Gosar apparently believes photosynthesis will save us from climate change. The problem is the natural CO2 cycle he references can’t absorb the massive quantities of carbon pollution humans are emitting. (To say nothing of methane and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases.)

Those who care about climate change will do well to be skeptical of claims that the GOP has turned a corner. While it’s certainly encouraging that some on the right are appearing more amenable to a carbon tax in the wake of the Green New Deal, if proposed solutions are fracking or carbon capture, then they’re merely covering their pro-pollution agenda with a thin skin of plausibility.

Climate denial propaganda is the sort of thing lurking under that skin of respectability like a pustule or boil, so if your opposition dips a toe into the grossness of denial by invoking photosynthesis, then your foe’s toe is in the cyst.

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