A US senator has denied being a “climate change denier” after he was caught on camera telling a private gathering of Republicans that the climate crisis was “bulls***”.
In the video, first reported by CNN, GOP senator Ron Johnson refers to conservative British climate crisis denier Lord Christopher Monckton before mouthing the expletive.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I think climate change is – as Lord Monckton said – bullsh**,” he said in the clip. “By the way, it is,” he added.
Mr Johnson, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, made the remarks in early June during a luncheon event for the “Republican Women of Greater Wisconsin” at Alioto’s in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, according to CNN.
Calling action to combat climate change “a self-inflicted wound”, he said “there are more and more scientists” writing books “just laying this to waste”.
“What are we doing here? Well, we’re killing ourselves,” he added.
“It was all about creating the state of fear as they tried to do with global warming. Oh, I’m sorry. It’s climate change now. Yeah. Whatever works,” he said. “Whatever works that they can, you can set up a state of fear so they can step in and alleviate their fear.”
In a statement to CNN, however, Mr Johnson again said he was not a climate crisis denier. “My statements are consistent. I am not a climate change denier, but I also am not a climate change alarmist. Climate is not static. It has always changed and always will change,” he said.
This is not the first time that Mr Johnson has downplayed the climate crisis caused by human actions.
Earlier in March this year, he told The New York Times that the climate crisis cannot be real because of an assumption that Greenland “was actually green at one point in time”.
“I could be wrong there, but that’s always been my assumption that, at some point in time, those early explorers saw green,” he told the newspaper, before adding that he had “no idea”.
“You know, there’s a reason Greenland was called Greenland. It was actually green at one point in time. And it’s been, you know, since, it’s a whole lot whiter now, so we’ve experienced climate change throughout geologic time,” he told Madison TV station WKOW in 2010.
In 2016, he reportedly said that “civilisation thrives” in warmer weather and people will adapt. “How many people are moving up toward the Antarctica, or the Arctic? Most people move down to Texas and Florida, where it’s a little bit warmer,” he told Wisconsin-based radio station WHBY.
In 2010, when Mr Johnson was a Senate candidate, he reportedly told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he “absolutely [does] not believe in the science of man-caused climate change. It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination”. He also reportedly claimed “sunspot activity or just something in the geologic aeons of time” was responsible for the planet warming.
He further said efforts to mitigate the effects of the crisis are “a fool’s errand”, adding he does not think “we can do anything about controlling what our climate is”.
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