Wis. US Senate hopeful Johnson says global warming ‘unproven,’ shouldn’t dictate US policy

By Dinesh Ramde, AP
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wis. US Sen. hopeful: Global warming ‘unproven’

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson said Thursday that global warming was an “unproven” science that shouldn’t be used to dictate U.S. policies.

The Republican business owner said domestic efforts to reduce global warming would hurt American businesses and send jobs to countries that have fewer restrictions. Johnson said it would be irresponsible to build U.S. policy on the basis of unsubstantiated theories.

“The point is, because we’re not certain, because it’s not proven, the last thing we should do is penalize our economy,” he told The Associated Press during an interview.

“I’m not even sure if, if it were a fact, whether we could do anything about it anyway,” he added later.

Johnson will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold in November. A recent poll showed Johnson with a slight lead in the race.

Johnson has in the past acknowledged global temperature swings. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in August that the changes could be due to sunspot activity or natural climatic variation over time, factors that many climate scientists say are insignificant compared to human-generated greenhouse gases.

But he took a harder stance Thursday, saying there was insufficient evidence to say whether global temperatures were rising.

“The science of global warming is unproven,” he said. “It just is.”

NASA has said the globe’s average temperature has increased as much as 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1800s, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states on its website that there’s “clear evidence that the Earth’s climate is warming.”

A July report compiled by more than 300 scientists from 48 countries said an analysis of 10 indicators that are “clearly and directly related to surface temperatures, all tell the same story: Global warming is undeniable.” The report was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Some scientists disagree with that conclusion, and nothing in science is 100 percent certain. Johnson said the uncertainty proves his point.

“I don’t need to go any further,” he said.

The Feingold campaign called Johnson’s views “out of touch with reality.”

“His belief that he knows better than most of the scientists in the world is dangerous,” campaign spokesman John Kraus said.

Feingold has said he supports action on climate change, though he has opposed a mandatory cap on greenhouse-gas emissions. The Democratic senator said it could harm Wisconsin because the state relies substantially on coal-fired power generation.

Congress has deadlocked on climate legislation that would limit emissions of greenhouse gases, which most scientists say are a leading contributor to global warming. Still, President Barack Obama has pledged to reduce U.S. emissions by 17 percent by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050, through executive orders and a continuing push for the legislation.

Proposed measures have included taxes on carbon dioxide emissions produced by coal-fired power plants and other large polluters.

Johnson said now isn’t the time to be proposing more taxes.

“We’ve got to create jobs,” he said. “We’ve got to create economic growth.”


Ron Johnson: www.ronjohnsonforsenate.com

Russ Feingold: www.russfeingold.org

will not be displayed