1st District update: More West Virginia politicians ignore the mounting science about global warming

October 20, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

We haven’t talked much on Coal Tattoo about the race for West Virginia’s 1st District Congressional seat … but the AP’s Vicki Smith had this interesting bit of information in her story today about yesterday’s debate between Democrat Mike Oliverio and Republican David McKinely:

West Virginia congressional candidates David McKinley and Michael Oliverio agreed Tuesday that federal spending and deficits are out of control, that the science suggesting man is to blame for global warming is questionable, and that Washington needs a change.

The story continues:

They also touched on coal, agreeing that the science behind global warming is questionable. Many scientists have disavowed past climate change research, McKinley said, and he’s waiting for valid science to convince him there’s a problem and whether man is to blame.

“This is an issue that people are using to try to stop the production of coal and the burning of coal in America, and we’ve got to find ways to stand up and say no to that,” he said, calling for more independent research. “I don’t want to listen to Al Gore tell me from a political standpoint that global warming is caused by man because I don’t think he can support it.”

Oliverio agreed, “I’m a bit of a skeptic.”

He said industry has been able to address many emissions issues, and a solution to make coal a cleaner fuel will be found.

Let’s see … last time I checked the basic science —  Carbon dioxide emissions are making the world warmer, humans are causing those emissions, and the impacts could be devastating — was agreed to by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Sciences, and science academies around the world (The AP unfortunately didn’t mention any of that in its story). Just this week, NOAA reported that 2010 is the hottest year on record so far.

Perhaps candidates Oliverio and McKinley could take a few moments to review “An illustrated guide to the latest climate science,” written by Joe Romm on his Climate Progress blog. If they did, they would learn:

In 2009, the scientific literature caught up with what top climate scientists have been saying privately for a few years now:

— Many of the predicted impacts of human-caused climate change are occurring much faster than anybody expected — particularly ice melt, everywhere you look on the planet.

— If we stay anywhere near our current emissions path, we are facing incalculable catastrophes by century’s end, including rapid sea level rise, massive wildfires, widespread Dust-Bowlification, large oceanic dead zones, and 9°F warming — much of which could be all but irreversible for centuries. And that’s not the worst-case scenario!

— The consequences for human health and well being would be extreme.

Or, one of them could eventually head to Congress with their head in the sand and, as Sen. Byrd cautioned, send a message that West Virginia says, “deal me out”. Sen Byrd thought that was a bad idea:

West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table. The 20 coal-producing states together hold some powerful political cards. We can have a part in shaping energy policy, but we must be honest brokers if we have any prayer of influencing coal policy on looming issues important to the future of coal like hazardous air pollutants, climate change, and federal dollars for investments in clean coal technology.

8 Responses to “1st District update: More West Virginia politicians ignore the mounting science about global warming”

  1. klem says:

    “1st District update: More West Virginia politicians ignore the mounting science about global warming”

    The mounting bad science you mean. They should ignore it; until climate scientists come up with something concrete we all should ignore these hilarious politically motivated climate scare fantasies. And who the heck is Joe Romm anyway?

    Cheer up, for almost everyone except you, climate change is dead. Wahoo!

  2. Thomas Rodd says:

    Because global warming and climate change threaten the interests of the most wealthy and powerful people on the planet, one can assume that those people will try to implement programs to change the global energy economy away from the current system that produces massive atmospheric carbon emissions.

    However, it remains to be seen how long that is going to take, and whether these programs will be effective in time to prevent terrible problems.

    These two candidates are saying what they think they have to say to get elected in West Virginia. It’s disappointing but not suprising.

    Regardless of what these candidates say, Congress, at the behest of the wealthy and powerful, will pass a climate bill that can be heralded as “good for West Virginia,” as Jay Rockefeller says, and that will be the first step on a path.

    That path will become more and more difficult and rigorous, as the real-world consequences of the past 200 years of releasing carbon into the atmosphere grow ever more severe.

    Good luck, future! Good post, Ken.

  3. Taylor says:

    Klem, I’m curious as to what your credentials are that qualify you to judge scientific information as “good” or “bad”? Are you a scientist? What are the criteria you’ve used in concluding that climate science is “bad”? And what “political” motivations would prompt someone to perpetrate the idea of climate change if it was false?

  4. kungpow12 says:

    Who is Joe Romm anyway?

    From Climate Progress’s website: Romm was Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy during the Clinton Administration where he directed $1 billion in research, development, demonstration, and deployment of clean energy and carbon-mitigating technology. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. In 2008, Romm was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “distinguished service toward a sustainable energy future and for persuasive discourse on why citizens, corporations, and governments should adopt sustainable technologies.”

  5. JWH says:

    Good post – WV must have their head in a coal mine to ignore all the evidence.

  6. Andrew says:

    The phrase “mounting science” suggests that there is not already a mountain of evidence large enough to sink a coal barge. So that means there’s practically no science. And, of course, “climate change” is a world-wide conspiracy to shut down coal mining in West Virginia, because… well, I forget why, but it’s true.

    I really don’t understand who benefits by ignoring decades of climate science (and there are decades of scientific literature). Even coal CEOs are dooming their companies to lifespans measured in years, not even decades. Supposing for a moment that climate change does not exist (which is patently absurd because it has been changing since the earth was formed), people no longer want to breathe in toxic fumes or have their landscapes destroyed by mining and ugly power plants. The industry is still peddling horse-drawn buggies as the people line up to buy automobiles. It’s absurd on a scale I could never have imagined.

  7. Thomas Rodd says:

    Andrew — “Supposing for a moment that climate change does not exist” — you are correct, of course — now, let’s let that moment pass, and return to the mountain that you accurately describe — it does exist.

    Actually, one could say that a little climate change “skepticism” is in order — but the only kind of skepticism that is justifiable is suspecting that inherently conservative “just-the-facts” scientists are probably underestimating the deadly consequences.

  8. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Excellent point … in writing my headline there, I certainly did not mean to suggest that this is “emerging science.” It’s anything but, and anyone who can’t see that isn’t really looking very hard.


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