The anti-science pronouncements of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin (the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s home state) are a threat to our — and our planet’s — health. As an organization of freethinkers committed to propagating scientific thought, FFRF takes umbrage.
Johnson has long been a global warming skeptic and saltily put voice to such sentiments in comments that have now come to the fore.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I think climate change is — as Lord Monckton said — bullsh*t,” he told a Republican women’s gathering last month, not fully uttering the expletive and making a reference to British global warming denier Lord Christopher Monckton. “By the way, it is.”
Johnson went on to cite books from scientists supposedly debunking climate change. “What are we doing here? Well, we’re killing ourselves,” he bizarrely claimed, adding, “It’s a self-inflicted wound.”
We are indeed killing ourselves, only in the exact opposite way from what Johnson imagines. Global warming is real and fatal, as the recent ultrahot spell in the Northwestern states and Canada that took hundreds of lives yet again demonstrated.
“The extraordinary heat wave that scorched the Pacific Northwest last week would almost certainly not have occurred without global warming, an international team of climate researchers said Wednesday,” the New York Times reports.
Johnson’s mode of inaction will only exacerbate the problem. And he is completely off-base about the supposedly skeptical scientists. The scientific consensus is almost unanimously in accord that climate change is occurring — and is caused by human activity.
This isn’t the first time that Johnson has been in denial on the issue. “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change,” he once stated, asserting that sunspots were the reason for global warming.
Johnson doesn’t confine his flights of unscientific fantasy to the sphere of climate change. Unfortunately, he has carried them over into the realms of the pandemic and medicine. Just some days ago, Johnson organized an event that featured individuals who had apparently developed side-effects to Covid-19 vaccines. In an extraordinary response, the Milwaukee Health Department denounced Johnson for spreading misinformation and encouraging vaccine hesitancy.
“The scientific facts about the Covid-19 vaccine remain: It is safe, it is effective, and complications are extremely rare,” its statement says. “More importantly, it saves lives. The burden of disease, hospitalizations, and deaths due to Covid-19 are the lowest the city of Milwaukee has experienced since the start of this pandemic.”
Just as with climate change, Johnson has an ignoble track record on this subject.
“Early in the pandemic, Johnson downplayed the severity of the outbreak, comparing it to the flu and highway deaths as he argued that common-sense public health measures to stop the spread of the illness were excessive,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel states. “Johnson used his perch as chairman of a powerful Senate committee to tout unproven therapies for Covid, including the controversial malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. He also cast doubt that masks helped prevent spread of the disease even though research shows they do, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommended their use.”
These are literally life or death issues for all of us. Johnson should be ashamed of himself for using his position in the Senate to so consistently be on the wrong side of science.
Photo by Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 3.0.