Humans are causing the uniquely rapid climate change we are witnessing, and the enormous effects of the phenomenon will be, and already are, globally disastrous. There are virtually no credible scientists who dispute this. It is settled science.
And yet, Utah's newly elected Republican congressman Chris Stewart remains among the skeptics who say they are not convinced. That would be merely unfortunate, although not surprising, if Stewart were just another rookie congressman. But it is disturbing, even alarming, that such a reality denier is now chairman of the House Environment Subcommittee, part of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, which oversees the Environmental Protection Agency and federal climate change policy.
Stewart sent a statement to the MotherJones website: "So while I accept that our climate is changing, I also understand that a great deal of research still needs to be accomplished to understand why, as well as to discover the impacts man might be having on that change." He told The Salt Lake Tribune, "I'm not as convinced as a lot of people are that man-made climate change is the threat they think it is. ... Some of the remedies are more expensive to our economy than the threat may turn out to be," ignoring the costs of drought, wildfires and storms like Sandy.
Stewart sounds eerily like former President George W. Bush, who, between 2001 and 2009 instructed his administration to eliminate any mention of global warming from federal scientific reports and repeatedly ignored or belittled scientists and activists who tried to warn about the coming severe storms, droughts, wildfires, rising sea levels that we are now experiencing.
Since then, 98 percent of scientists have agreed on both the reality of climate change and its cause. Even many politicians, including Republican politicians, have quit denying the facts. So it is demoralizing that Stewart has risen to a position where he can influence federal policy on climate change, science and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Here is a man, an author of fantasy novels, who rejects scientific research, wants to dismantle the EPA ("There is no better example of the overreach of government than in environmental law.") and is unconcerned about humans' impact on the climate and set against even trying to rectify the damage we've already done.
Surely the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives can find someone a bit more moderate, more knowledgeable, more informed and more in touch with reality to fill this important committee seat.