Moderate Republicans lament GOP climate change denial

It’s not quite an outright backlash yet, but some GOP moderates are beginning to publicly attack the widespread climate skepticism in their party’s ranks.

Former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) — who led the House Science Committee from 2001 to 2006 — took his party to task in a Friday Washington Post column headlined “Science the GOP can’t wish away.”

“Watching the raft of newly elected GOP lawmakers converge on Washington, I couldn't help thinking about an issue I hope our party will better address. I call on my fellow Republicans to open their minds to rethinking what has largely become our party's line: denying that climate change and global warming are occurring and that they are largely due to human activities,” writes Boehlert, whose post-Congress work includes advising the Project on Climate Science.

He later adds: “There is a natural aversion to more government regulation. But that should be included in the debate about how to respond to climate change, not as an excuse to deny the problem's existence. The current practice of disparaging the science and the scientists only clouds our understanding and delays a solution.”

Boehlert’s piece comes two days after outgoing Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) — who lost his primary to a conservative challenger — attacked climate skeptics at a House Science and Technology Committee hearing Wednesday.

“Tom Friedman gave me this great analogy yesterday,” he said, referring to The New York Times columnist and green energy advocate. “Your child is sick. Ninety-eight doctors say ‘treat him this way.’ Two say ‘no, this other [way] is the way to go.’ I'll go with the two. You're taking a big risk with those kids. Because 98 of the doctors say, ‘do this thing,’ two say, ‘do the other.’”

Inglis, the ranking member of the panel’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee, warned that ascendant Republicans would attack climate science when they control the House next year.

“I'd encourage scientists that are listening out there to get ready for the hearings that are coming up in the next Congress. Those will be difficult hearings for climate scientists. But, I would encourage you to welcome those as fabulous opportunities to teach. Don’t come here defensively. Don’t come to this committee defensively,” Inglis said.

According to an analysis released by The Wonk Room — a blog affiliated with the liberal Center for American Progress — more than half of the Republicans in the upcoming 112th Congress doubt evidence of human-induced climate change.

“Thirty-five of the 46 (76 percent) Republicans in the U.S. Senate next year publicly question the science of global warming. Of the 240 Republicans elected to the House of Representatives, 125 (52 percent) publicly question the science,” states the analysis published Friday.

The dominant — but not unanimous — view among climate scientists is that human activities such as burning coal and oil are raising the planet’s temperature.