Climate change didn’t cause the election results and the election didn’t stop climate change

By JP Leous


Tuesday’s election results confirmed expectations: Republicans gained control of the House and picked up seats in the Senate.


Over the days and weeks ahead we’ll be bombarded with analyses, blogs and lots of hot air seeking to explain what caused this shift and what it means looking forward.


One myth that is already making the rounds is that supporting climate legislation, like the landmark American Climate, Energy, and Security Act (ACES) is a political loser.


Little could be farther from the truth. It is true that in a few races deep in coal country this was a top line issue—but the larger trend is far more promising for our economy, environment and health.


Let’s first look at California. Despite a multi-million dollar campaign paid for by Big Oil, Prop 23 (an initiative that sought to block the state’s climate pollution progress) was soundly trounced by voters. This huge win for clean energy and clean air demonstrates the tired and blatantly false choice of “economy or environment” no longer fools voters; Americans now understand that the only path to a strong, sustainable economy is rooted in a strong, healthy environment.


Looking at Congressional races, it’s hard to justify a claim that the climate bill had any meaningful negative impact.  More than 80% of ACES supporters in the House will be back next Congress. Take this example from Kentucky – a state with strong coal ties - Rep. John Yarmuth (D) voted for the bill and will return to Congress next year.


Also telling, however, is that the Democratic candidates that voted against ACES lost their seats – less than 40% of Democrats that voted against the climate bill are returning in January.


On the other side of the aisle, five of the eight Republicans that voted for the bill kept their seats, and another won his race for the US Senate. We could go on, but you get the point: while climate change played a role in just a few races, most voters went to the ballot box motivated by a host of other issues.


But we see from this election that the climate change denial machine is alive and growing, being fed and by the deep pockets of Big Oil and King Coal. Republican and Tea Party candidates ran on a near-universal   anti-science, anti-health, anti-solutions platform; making our work to protect our environment from climate change even more important. 


There is hope. We’ve beat back this machine and its friends in Congress before. We beat Sen. Murkowski’s Dirty Air Act.  We beat back Prop 23. And we’ll need to continue to be vigilant and nimble in order stay out in front of the well-funded opponents of clean air and climate solutions.


Follow JP on Twitter @TWSjp

Susitna Glacier in Alaska - photo courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight Center


Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago


Julianna D.
Juliana D7 years ago

great article, thanks!

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago


Sumit j.
Sumit jamadar7 years ago


Diane H F7 years ago

Some 30-35 years ago, the US was #1 in academic achievement. (Achievement also significantly improved among our poor during the brief period that welfare benefit levels improved, from the early '70s to mid-80s).Today, we've fallen below all the modern nations and some Third World countries, and we can no longer compete in the world market.

We see the consequences of the "dumbing down of America" all around us today. Room for disagreement in philosophical ideas, for example, makes sense, but climate change isn't an esoteric matter. It is hard-core science, and conclusions are determined by the data, not by feelings or loyalties.In view of the evidence, denying climate change makes as much sense as denying that the earth revolves around the sun. (After all, the Bible indicates that the sun revolves around the earth.)

Note to Tana, et al: Skip the opinion pieces and take some time to learn about science -- in particular, climate science. Learn "what makes it tick," to see for yourself just how the heavy air pollution from burning fossil fuels is causing climate change. Learn from science, not from organizations with a vested interest in this issue.

Tori W.
Past Member 7 years ago

thanks. Can we get a law BANNING political ads? Since so many of them are out and out lies, which they later brag about, I think they should ALL be banned.

V Ventura
V V7 years ago

When people don't want to make changes to the ways they live, they will deny that they are the cause of, or are contributing in any way to something. It's easier than researching, and making changes. Everyone can make minor changes to help out the environment. Let's not all be so lazy that we do nothing, and have the mentality that the next generation can do something about it.

Mary B.
Mary B7 years ago

stop tracking

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Nancy Anderson
Nancy Anderson7 years ago

The denial machine is a problem. Big changes are coming. I believe it's from human beings out of touch with nature and the natural cycles of the planet. The earth's pulse is rising, the magnetic field is dropping, the sun is losing its magnetic field and is about to enter the height of its solar flare cycle. In 2012, we will be aligning with the center black hole of the Milky Way and the sun will eclipse the earth at that point. Earth will be at the furthest point away from the center and there is no one around to tell us what happened the last time it happen 26,000 years ago. Humans have created 5 major garbage dumps in the oceans, burned fossil fuels to the point that we have acid rain destroying the forests, acidifying all waterways/ocean and causing smog, we've cut down rain forests disrupting weather patterns causing droughts among other things, destroyed wildlife habitat and dumped poisons into the environment causing extinction events . . . just to name a few. Just because Big Oil and King Coal have paid them to stick their heads in the sand doesn't mean any of this is going away without intervention. We will all have to be vigilant. May the Source of All That Is help us.