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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

An Excellent Start: GOP Congressman Chris Gibson and Climate Change

By Phil Plait

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about global warming. Sadly, much of it isn’t discussing the science—which is now extremely well established—but in debunking the ridiculous and frankly appalling denial so rampant in our political leaders.

That’s why it brings me a substantial amount of delight to write about Chris Gibson, a Republican from upstate New York who acknowledges the reality of climate change:

My district has been hit with three 500-year floods in the last several years, so either you believe that we had a one in over 100 million probability that occurred, or you believe as I do that there's a new normal, and we have changing weather patterns, and we have climate change. This is the science. … I hope that my party—that we will come to be comfortable with this, because we have to operate in the realm of knowledge and science, and I still think we can bring forward conservative solutions to this, absolutely, but we have to recognize the reality.

Nailed it. It’s refreshing to hear any politician speak so frankly, let alone a Republican; the GOP is overwhelmingly anti-science when it comes to many issues, but global warming in particular. Given the way subcommittees routinely ignore or mock climate scientists, it’s a rock-solid certainty they won’t listen to anyone who is not part of the fold. I have hope that perhaps Gibson can make a difference.

He’s trying, too. He plans to submit a resolution in the House recognizing the reality of climate change:”

So I will be bringing forward a bill, a resolution that states as such, with really the intent of rallying us, to harken us to our best sense, our ability to overcome hard challenges.

I think this is really important. Climate change is one if the greatest threats we as a species face, but it also presents a lot of opportunities, business opportunities. The GOP has been running for years claiming it wants to help the economy, to spur businesses. Well, here’s their chance. Clean energies are on the rise in the U.S., including solar, which is getting cheaper, better, and more popular all the time.

In fact, Australian researchers just made a discovery that increased solar power efficiency to 40 percent.* If the U.S. government backed solar power like they do fossil fuel, those kinds of records would fall all the time, and they’d be done here in our own country. There’s a fortune to be made in green energy.

I hope Gibson can make some headway, and I support him on this.

I have to note that it’s not all wine and roses: Gibson supports offshore drilling and the Keystone pipeline, both of which I think are monumental mistakes. Going over where he stands on other issues, there are plenty over which we’d disagree.

I don’t expect to agree with a politician on every single issue, even important ones. But sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture, and having a Republican talking about the reality of climate change is big indeed. And he’s not alone; Reagan-era Secretary of State George Shultz is also an advocate for doing something about global warming (and, kinda sorta, Rep. Garret Graves, R-Louisiana, who seems to think climate change is real).

This may be a slow start, but it’s a start. I’ll take it.

Tip o’ the thermometer to Climate Crocks, via Greenman3610 and Dana Nuccitelli.

*Correction, Dec. 9, 2014, at 15:10 UTC: I originally wrote the efficiency was increased by 40 percent, when it's to 40 percent.

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