When Democrats in control of the House scheduled a hearing for international scientists to explain their warnings that humans are critically wounding biodiversity on Wednesday, conservative members of Congress called on career climate science deniers to testify alongside them.
While a small but growing number of moderate conservatives acknowledge the urgency of the manmade problem, many Republican members of the House of Representatives in leadership positions do not.
Republicans on a natural resources subcommittee called two prominent science deniers to criticize a landmark report that 1m species are at risk of extinction largely because of humans, including because of rising temperatures from fossil fuel use and other unsustainable activities.
The conservatives invited Marc Morano, who founded a website to question climate science, and Patrick Moore, the chairman of the CO2 Coalition which falsely argues that more carbon is good for the planet.
The panels chairman and top Democrat, Californias Jared Huffman, accused the two of trolling the scientists who helped spearhead the report for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
I dont know what inspires someone to make a career out of trolling scientists, Huffman said, referring to the witnesses as being from the shadowy corners of these junior varsity thinktanks.
The hearing highlighted what recent polling confirms: climate change is more politically polarizing in the US than even abortion. More Democrats are seeing climate action as a top necessity, but conservative Republicans are not.
Morano was formerly communications director for the GOP senator James Inhofe but now refers to himself as an investigative journalist. He said the reports claims that societal transformation is needed to protect and restore nature are the latest UN appeal for more money and more regulatory control of the economy and peoples lives.
Moore said humans putting carbon dioxide into the environment are the salvation of life on Earth.
And Tom McClintock, the panels ranking Republican from California, insisted inaccurately that there was a vigorous debate in the scientific community over how human activity compares with vastly more powerful natural influencers that have driven climate change for four-and-a-half billion years.
The scientists testifying defended the integrity of the report. They said they received and addressed 15,000 expert comments in an open review process.
What we wanted to do was to find out what do we know and what dont we know? Where is there unanimous agreement about whats happening, where are there differences of opinion? said Robert Watson, the past chair of IPBES. Its the most heavily peer-reviewed document ever.