Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

August 20, 2010

JOHNSON'S SUNSPOT GAFFE, ON VIDEO.... Ron Johnson (R), taking on Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in Wisconsin this year, has proven to be one of 2010's nuttiest candidates. It's why his campaign team has generally shielded him from speaking to the media, which might ask him to talk about his beliefs and policy positions, which in turn would cost him votes.

This week, however, Johnson sat down with editors and reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he proceeded to explain why he rejects all scientific evidence related to global warming, which he described as "lunacy," and its supporters as "crazy." Asked about his own perceptions, Johnson said global warming is likely the result of "sunspot activity," which doesn't make any sense.

Today, Greg Sargent posts a video of the exchange, which, if anything, makes the bizarre candidate appear slightly worse. We learn, for example, that Johnson believes it's "a little absurd for anybody to think, Okay, this is the sweet spot in geologic time for climate. And it's such a good place, that we have spent trillions of dollars, and do great harm to our economy, on a fool's errand."

As Greg added, "I wonder if the countless scientists studying this issue ever asked themselves whether their scientific models allowed for the possibility that they were erroneously designating this moment geological time's climate change 'sweet spot.'"

In the larger context, Feingold clearly seems vulnerable this year, but I can't help but wonder what the race would have been like in Wisconsin if Republicans had nominated someone less transparently foolish. That isn't to say Johnson can't win -- polls suggest he's very competitive -- but this appears to be another example in which a ridiculous GOP nominee might save a Democrat's skin.

Steve Benen 2:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Climate "Sweet spot"? Well, if you think having a climate that can sustain human and other life in the manner to which we have become accustomed is a good thing, then this is a sweet spot indeed. I have to give him credit for one thing--not every conservative is even willing to entertain the possibility that there is such a thing as geologic time. So he's not immune to science in general, only science that is inconvenient for his political platform...

Posted by: Herman Newticks on August 20, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Johnson, like most (maybe virtually all) global climate change denialists, confuses the difference between historical natural climate change taking place over thousands of years, and man made change taking place over tens to hundreds of years. It's not climate change per se that concerns us, it's the rate of climate change.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on August 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it is odd that everyone focuses on climate *change*. Because if you believe that change by itself is the problem then you are indeed claiming that we (well more likely people in the pre-industrial era) happen (happened) to live in a "sweet spot" in terms of the climate. What the real problem from human carbon emissions is is not so much the change but the rate of change. So, for example, can most species adapt to the (rapid) change quickly enough to avoid serious species loss (although of course there are other contributing factors to that such as loss of habitat). The climate of the world has always changed. But it is the rate of change that is the problem.

Posted by: wab on August 20, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

While there's been an increase since 1750 in sunspot activity and solar irradiance, that alone doesn't account for the amount of warming observed since then. Also, the past decade has been one of the warmest on record while sunspot activity has diminished, which contradicts Johnson's claims.

Posted by: David W. on August 20, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Spent "trillions of dollars" ? Is he confusing the Iraq & Afghanistan wars with global warming ?

Posted by: H-Bob on August 20, 2010 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Sunspots (or rather, the lack of sunspots) should be making things cooler than average. The fact that it's a lot warmer than average makes it clear that something else must be going on.

Johnson's argument is about as dumb as it gets.

Posted by: Area Man on August 20, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Suppose you were in a sweet spot.
Wouldn't one response to that realization be: "Don't Fuck it up."?

Instead we get denialists insisting on idling their SUV extra when they notice their neighbor got a hybrid. '...Just to piss em off.'

Posted by: catclub on August 20, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Please note, Steve, that Ron Johnson is not yet the Republican candidate for US Senate here in Wisconsin. Our primaries are Sept. 14, and there are two (one even moderately credible) other Republicans running.

Johnson is likely to be the winner, though, because he's applying a considerable amount money he earned running his father-in-law's company to the race. (He likes to tell the story that he started his business "from the ground up," but that's just as true as his sunspot theory.)

Posted by: folkbum on August 20, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Solar activity has been a theme of some of the fringier climate denialists, so Johnson has picked up on a meme that has been circulating awhile. He'd rather believe some guy broadcasting after midnight -- who also babbles about things like aliens and exorcism -- than actual scientists. He knows what he knows -- which is nothing -- and thinks he needs to know nothing else.

Posted by: Bat of Moon on August 20, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

"While there's been an increase since 1750 in sunspot activity and solar irradiance, that alone doesn't account for the amount of warming observed since then. Also, the past decade has been one of the warmest on record while sunspot activity has diminished, which contradicts Johnson's claims."

David W., you sound as if you know dangerously too much about sunspots! Why? Better read? or relates to your field of study?

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on August 20, 2010 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

What's scary is that raving lunatics like this guy and Sharron Angle are going to get more than 40% of the vote.

Posted by: mfw13 on August 20, 2010 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

I notice that the problem of climate change has now apparently shifted to the rate of change rather than the change itself. Perhaps next week we'll see arguments that the second derivative the real villain.
Northern Africa was prime agricultural land in Roman times. The rapid growth of the Sahara desert preceded the industrial age by centuries. Who says climate change is naturally slow?

Posted by: rfb77 on August 20, 2010 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

"I notice that the problem of climate change has now apparently shifted to the rate of change rather than the change itself."

That tells me more about you than it does about the topic. The rate of change has always been discussed as a key piece of evidence in favor of the anthropogenic mechanism. The reason you think there has been a 'shift' is that you don't understand the issue.

"Who says climate change is naturally slow?"

Most scientists who have studied the subject.

Posted by: Joel on August 21, 2010 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

input this URL:
( http://www.fashiongoods.us )
you can find many cheap and fashion stuff
(jor dan s-h-o-e-s)
(NBA NFL NHL MLB j-e-r-s-e-y)
( lv h-a-n-d-b-a-g)
(cha nel w-a-l-l-e-t)
(D&G s-u-n-g-l-a-s-s-e-s)
(ed har dy j-a-c-k-e-t)
(UG G b-o-o-t)

WE ACCEPT PYAPAL PAYMENT
YOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!!

Posted by: gaga94 on August 21, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

This guy is silly! He actually thinks that changes in the sun's energy output might result in changes in temperature on our planet! What a nut- as if the sun warming and cooling could historically be a factor in the warming and cooling of Earth. His Democratic opponent is right- it is us, and only us, and only me and you, that is causing the entire globe to warm now and forever, because of our sins against Mother Earth, and we must repent and punish ourselves. Sunspots causing the sun to be warmer causing Earth to be warmer- how silly is that?

Posted by: A Conservative Teacher on August 21, 2010 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

"how silly is that?"

As silly as your post.

Posted by: Joel on August 21, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

The sunspot business may not be as off-putting to Republicans as you might think. I believe this "theory" has been pushed on talk-radio. A lady I know who is a devout "dittohead" has used this argument with me. I wouldn't be surprised if it's Rush Limbaugh who's pushing it.

Crazy, yes; but crazy has now gone mainstream.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on August 22, 2010 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly