Ron Johnson on his past false claim Greenland was once green: 'I have no idea'

Ron Johnson on his past false claim Greenland was once green: 'I have no idea'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLiberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Domestic extremists return to the Capitol GOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes MORE (R-Wis.) appeared to still be doubtful about the origins of Greenland’s name in an interview published Monday where he was asked about past inaccurate claims he made about the country’s etymology years ago.

In an interview published Monday by The New York Times, Johnson was asked about comments he made while campaigning 2010 in which he said Greenland was named because "it was actually green at one point in time." 

"I could be wrong there, but that’s always been my assumption that, at some point in time, those early explorers saw green," Johnson told the Times. "I have no idea."

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In his 2010 comments, Johnson was attempting to refer to an inaccurate portrait of Greenland's history as a way to dismiss climate change.

“You know, there’s a reason Greenland was called Greenland,” Johnson was reported telling local media at the time. “It was actually green at one point in time. And it’s been, you know, since — it’s a whole lot whiter now, so we’ve experienced climate change throughout geologic time.” 

As the Times notes, the land was named Greenland after explorer Erik The Red began calling the island by the name in a bid to bring more settlers to the area.

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Johnson had reportedly made the inaccurate remark while also pushing claims that climate change was caused by sunspots instead of by human activity. 

According to a report published by Scientific American the year before Johnson’s remarks, the claim about sunspots in particular came as a number of those who denied the notion of humans causing climate change had similarly blamed sunspots for global warming.

While the publication, the nation’s oldest continuously published magazine, noted in its coverage then that “many” climate scientists agreed sunspots could also contribute to climate change, it also noted that a “vast majority view it as very minimal and attribute Earth’s warming primarily to emissions from industrial activity—and they have thousands of peer-reviewed studies available to back up that claim.”