Ron Johnson: Climate change is 'bulls---'

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE (R-Wis.) downplayed the dangers of climate change at a Republican luncheon earlier this summer, according to a new report. 

"I don't know about you guys, but I think climate change is — as Lord Monckton said — bullshit," Johnson said, according to CNN's KFILE, which reported the Republican did not utter the expletive but mouthed it instead.
 
"By the way, it is," Johnson then added, according to a report. 
 
Lord Christopher Monckton is a British conservative climate change denier and political pundit. 
 
"What are we doing here? Well, we're killing ourselves," Johnson said at the event in early June, reportedly adding, "it's a self-inflicted wound."
 
The Republican reportedly separately blamed mainstream media outlets and Democrats for using the coronavirus pandemic and climate change as a means of creating a "state of fear" and "control." 
 
"It was all about creating the state of fear as they tried to do with global warming. Oh, I'm sorry. It's climate change now. Yeah. Whatever works," Johnson said, according to CNN. "Whatever works that they can, you can set up a state of fear so they can step in and alleviate their fear."
 
The consensus among scientists is that global temperatures are rising because of activity by humans. Climate change increasingly has been seen in connection to violent tropical storms, as well as the recent heat wave in the Pacific Northwest.
 
Progressive Democrats in Congress have been pushing for more funding to fight global warming as part of the ongoing debate about infrastructure spending, a measure Republicans in both chambers have voiced opposition to. 
 
At the same time, a new group was recently formed by some House Republicans to educate members about climate change. 
 
KFILE noted that Johnson, who has not announced if he will seek reelection to his seat representing Wisconsin in the upper chamber, has repeatedly downplayed the threat climate change poses to humans and the planet. 
 
"Mankind has actually flourished in warmer temperatures," Johnson said in 2016. "I just think the question always is what is the cost versus the benefit of anything we do to try and clean up our environment." 
 
Over the last several months, Johnson has also questioned public health measures relating to the coronavirus pandemic, downplayed the threat posed to lawmakers during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and backed former President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE's unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. 
 
In a recent editorial, the largest newspaper in Johnson's home state called him "the most irresponsible representative of Wisconsin citizens since the infamous Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy in the 1950s." 
 
"As a Tea Party Republican and climate change denier in 2010, he attracted support from the fossil fuel industry. Later, by minimizing the pandemic and touting questionable treatments for COVID, he vouched for a former president’s lies and boosted his own credibility with the Trump base in his home state," The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote. "Johnson continues to put his own interests ahead of yours. He continues to put himself first and democracy second."  
  
In a statement to the Hill, Johnson said his opinions on climate change have been "consistent," through his years in public life.

"I am not a climate change denier, but I also am not a climate change alarmist," he said. "Climate is not static. It has always changed and always will change. I do not share Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezWomen's March endorses Nina Turner in first-ever electoral endorsement Grassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians MORE’s (D-N.Y.) view that the 'world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.' Or President BidenJoe BidenRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Iowa governor suggests immigrants partially to blame for rising COVID-19 cases Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE saying the 'greatest threat' to U.S. security is climate change.'"

Johnson said he considers those positions to be "extreme, to say the least."

"At some point, all the Malthusian predictions that have not come true should begin reducing the credibility of the scaremongers," he said. "But that would take honest reporting."
 
-Updated 12:17 p.m.