Kerry Emanuel, Barry Bickmore, Calvin DeWitt, Richard Alley and Katharine Hayhoe.
From Inside Climate News‘ “GOP Not Listening to Its Own Scientists on Climate Change,”
A number of prominent U.S. climate scientists who identify themselves as Republican say their attempts in recent years to educate the GOP leadership on the scientific evidence of man-made climate change have been futile. Now, many have given up trying and the few who continue notice very little change after speaking with politicians and their aides.
“No GOP candidates or policymakers want to touch the issue, and those of us trying to educate them are left frustrated,” Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a registered Republican, told InsideClimate News. “Climate change has become a third rail in politics”…
Emanuel, the MIT scientist who directs the university’s atmosphere, oceans and climate program and has authored dozens of influential papers, said he has been trying to talk with Republican presidential candidates in person for several months. He is skeptical that his efforts have had much of an effect.
In late January, Emanuel was flown to South Carolina by the Christian Coalition of America, a religious advocacy group that has backed federal climate legislation, to talk to presidential candidates about climate change for one of their regular meetings. While there, alongside two naval admirals and the president of Tennessee-based Signal Energy, a wind, solar and biomass energy company, Emanuel told Gingrich and one of Santorum’s top aides of the urgent need to advance America’s response to dangerous climate change.
“As you would expect they listened politely, but it is very hard to know whether that had any effect at all,” Emanuel said. “But you have to try all the doors and just keep working at it, I guess.”
Last November he spoke at a small conference of the New Hampshire Republicans for Climate. Despite being sent invitations—and being in the state at the time of the meeting— neither Romney nor Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who withdrew from the race in January, showed up at the conference. The brush-off, Emanuel said, was “disappointing”…
Brigham Young University geochemist Barry Bickmore is a Mormon and active Republican, serving as a county delegate for the GOP from 2008 to 2010. Bickmore first got involved with his party’s handling of climate change when he and other scientific colleagues in the state banded together to try to stop a 2010 Utah resolution that cast doubt on climate science and urged the Environmental Protection Agency to halt its efforts to regulate carbon emissions. The scientists said the resolution was riddled with scientific errors, but it won passage anyway.
Bickmore has since reached out to his state’s U.S. senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, both Republicans, with offers to educate them on climate issues. Lee has yet to respond. Bickmore did convince Hatch’s office to remove a fake climate data graph from his public website. The web page, Climate Change 101, is still full of misinformation, Bickmore told InsideClimate News.
Neither Hatch nor Lee returned calls or emails seeking comment…
Richard Alley, a highly regarded geoscientist at Penn State University who has authored hundreds of peer-reviewed papers on climate change, testified in front of Congress several times about global warming between the late 1990s and 2010. Alley also spoke to cabinet level people in the George W. Bush White House, he said. In the past few years, however, Alley has largely stayed away from Washington. He has been hesitant to reach out to policymakers since it’s not on their radar. He is also afraid it won’t do much good since everyone is “yelling for their attention on so many issues.”
“I think the door isn’t open right now to contact them,” Alley said.
The same goes for Calvin DeWitt, an environmental scientist who researches climate change at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. DeWitt is a vocal evangelical Christian and although he won’t affiliate himself with a single party, he does admit his religious and cultural beliefs fall in line with the majority of Republicans. He has played a significant role in nearly every intersection of climate scientists with evangelicals and politicians, including the creation of the Evangelical Climate Initiative in 2006, a group of over 300 senior evangelical leaders who believe the nation needs to address global warming.
In recent years, however, DeWitt’s efforts have been thwarted, he told InsideClimate News. “The times I’ve tried to reach out to politicians, I have not been welcome. I think the basic problem is that it no longer pays to talk with scientists, but to those who fund you.”
Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University who has been vocal about her evangelical beliefs. She gained national attention at the end of last year, when Gingrich dropped a chapter she had written on human-driven climate change for his forthcoming book on environmental issues, causing a media flurry.
Hayhoe told InsideClimate News she’s more focused on communicating the science of climate change to Americans who are still skeptical than to politicians, mainly because they seem more interested. “It’s not that I have made up my mind not to educate politicians on the issue, but … they’re not calling me,” she said. “I’m always happy to talk to anyone who is interested—politician or not … I rarely turn down an invite to discuss the issue”…