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GOP chair denies global warming

Speaking on a nationally syndicated radio program, Michael Steele, whose official job title is Embattled Chairman of the Republican National Committee, placed himself in opposition to empirically observed reality earlier this month when he denied the existence of global warming.

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Samples of prehistoric DNA have revealed that the last time the entire Arctic island could rightly be described as "green" was between 450,000 and 800,000 years ago, well before the emergence of any Homo sapiens who could have appended a signifier to the island. The earliest fossils of anatomically modern humans are about 130,000 years old.

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Steele's denial of scientific findings of manmade global warming is moderately representative of his party. A May 2008 Pew survey found that only 49 percent of Republicans believe that the earth is warming, compared with 84 percent of Democrats. According to the poll, only 27 percent of Republicans believe that human activity is warming the globe, compared with 84 percent of Democrats. Among climatologists, this number is 97 percent.

Steele's assertion that humans have not been here very long is very much in line with the beliefs of a majority of Republicans: A June 2008 Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Republicans believe that God created humans "as is" within the last 10,000 years and that humans did not develop over millions of years, assertions that are contradicted by overwhelming evidence from a range of scientific disciplines.

Of course, not all Republicans are as dismissive of science as Steele. I emailed Jim DiPeso, Policy Director of Republicans for Environmental Protection. Here's what he had to say:

Michael Steele has the potential to re-brand the Republican Party by helping it do a better job of reaching out to constituencies that the party has done a poor job of engaging. One thing that the party must do is make a convincing case that it is rediscovering the traditional conservative ethic of good stewardship of our natural heritage, including the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide has an effect on global temperatures. It is basic physics that has been well understood for a long time. To suggest otherwise is nonsense. The debate we should be having is not about the physics of global warming, but about the policy choices that we should make to reduce the risks associated with global warming.
Michael's comment, unfortunately, sends a message that the party has no plans to change in the wake of two consecutive election debacles. I hope that is not Michael's intent. He should focus on reaching out to new constituencies, and leave climate science to the climatologists.

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