By Emily Atkin
The members of Congress who spread dangerous disinformation about Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election are the same lawmakers spreading dangerous disinformation about the climate crisis, a HEATED investigation has found.
According to an analysis of their public statements and votes, 90 of the 147 Republican members of Congress who voted to overturn the results of the presidential election explicitly deny or have denied that climate change is human-caused and dangerous.
These lawmakers’ denials of basic scientific facts range from delicate expressions of doubt to preposterous claims of conspiracy. Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, for example, has merely said he believes climate science “is uncertain,” while Texas Rep. John Carter calls climate change “a chicken-little scheme” to use “government propaganda” to brainwash the “unwashed masses.” (You can check out all their statements here; I highlighted what I felt were particularly wild ones in yellow).
But the disinformation all serves the same purpose: to convince Americans that the jury is still out on climate change, so legislation to solve it may be delayed as long as possible.
The outcome of this climate disinformation will be far deadlier than the election disinformation-inspired riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Indeed, the climate disinformation spread by these lawmakers and others has already proven a deadlier threat to Americans and the world.
Deadlier than election denial
Climate change is as bad as it is today because of disinformation. Had the fossil fuel industry not stepped in to create, promote, and fund denialism in 1989, bipartisan efforts to address climate change would have very likely begun in the U.S. more than 30 years ago.
But the industry did step in, and America—the world’s largest historical contributor to the climate crisis—became a model for the world for deflecting and ignoring the problem instead of solving it.
Now, the world is barreling toward the deadly, dangerous, and irreversible warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius—and it’s doing so with the help of the same public servants who promoted deadly misinformation about the presidential election. While the Jan. 6 riot inspired by election disinformation led to the deaths of five people, climate disinformation is leading to policy inaction that threatens the deaths of millions.
Election deniers vote against climate policy 94 percent of the time
Over 100 professional health and medical groups have called on policymakers to recognize climate change as “a public health emergency.” As a whole, the 147 members of Congress who voted against certification of Joe Biden’s victory aren’t listening.
Only 14 of the 147 lawmakers who objected to certifying electoral ballots earlier this month have said they accept the scientific consensus that climate change is human-caused and dangerous. The other 42 members who raised objections to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory have not stated clear positions on climate science.
Still, most of those members have spoken against the need for aggressive climate regulation. And almost all consistently vote against legislation to address the crisis.
According to HEATED’s analysis (which you can explore further by clicking here), the 147 members of Congress who voted against certification of Joe Biden’s victory also routinely vote against protecting the climate and environment. Their average lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, an organization which tracks environmental voting records, is a mere 5.7. That means the lawmakers who denied the results of the 2020 presidential election only cast pro-climate and environment votes 5.7 percent of the time.
Corporations pull support from election deniers, but not climate deniers
ICYMI, Yesterday’s newsletter argued that America’s disinformation problem won’t be solved until we stand up to climate deniers, too—and that starts with corporations treating them the same way they treat election deniers.
Since the violent riots on Jan. 6, at least 23 major companies now say they will no longer donate to lawmakers who voted against certifying the results of the election. … [But] exactly zero of [those companies] have also pledged to cut off politicians who spread misinformation about the climate crisis, which has already killed far more people, and stands to kill far more.
We’ll be reaching out to those 23 corporations today to see if they plan to extend their corporate donation ban to climate deniers, too. We’ll update you if and when we get any responses.
You can explore more of the 147 lawmakers’ statements on climate change by checking out this spreadsheet.