President Joe Biden took aim at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) on Wednesday for the Republican lawmaker’s recent comments, in which he asserted that the climate crisis was “bullshit.”
Biden, speaking to a crowd at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois, excoriated Johnson for his disbelief in the climate crisis. The president was there on Wednesday pushing for his infrastructure proposals when he stopped briefly in his speech to opine on the senator’s words, without mentioning Johnson specifically by name.
“I heard today from a senator north of here, that Republican Senator, there is no global warming. No such thing,” Biden said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
President Biden hits at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) for calling climate change “bullshit.” pic.twitter.com/ZQiQbwm8CE
— The Recount (@therecount) July 7, 2021
Biden added that his infrastructure proposals would help states like Illinois in the future, and that the bill would specifically address extreme weather events, which cost the state around $50 billion from 2010 to 2020.
“We’re going to upgrade the electric grid to make it more resilient to extreme weather and other threats,” Biden said. “There’s a lot more the agreement’s going to do to encourage that physical infrastructure lays the foundation for a strong and durable and sustainable competitive economy.”
Johnson made his comments at a private Republican luncheon that took place in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, last month, which were first reported on by CNN earlier this week. During that event, Johnson, referring to United Kingdom climate crisis denier Lord Christopher Monckton, stated that he did not believe climate change was real.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I think climate change is — as Lord Monckton said — bullshit,” Johnson said during the event in June, not speaking the last word out loud but mouthing it instead. “By the way, it is.”
Johnson went on, further describing actions to combat the climate crisis as “a self-inflicted wound,” and suggesting that several scientists were “laying [the climate crisis] to waste” in books being written about the subject.
The senator’s comments fly in the face of the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists, who agree that the climate crisis isn’t just real, but already happening and is the result of human activities. Johnson, a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in the Senate, further disparaged the climate crisis as “creating the state of fear” in the general public.
When confronted by his comments, however, Johnson told CNN that he is not denying the climate crisis exists, contradicting what he had said in direct terms behind closed doors last month.
“My statements are consistent. I am not a climate change denier,” Johnson insisted, “but I also am not a climate change alarmist. Climate is not static. It has always changed and always will change.”
Johnson’s past comments on climate suggest he is deeply ignorant on the issue, and readily happy to accept assertions from supposed climate scientists that aren’t based in scientific truth. In 2010, for instance, Johnson wrongly claimed that Greenland, which is drastically losing its ice levels because of the climate crisis, was originally green when European explorers first landed on the landmass.
In spite of more than 10 years passing since making that original claim, Johnson peddled it again just this past year.
“I could be wrong there, but that’s always been my assumption that, at some point in time, those early explorers saw green,” he said in March.
The landmass is called “Greenland” because Erik the Red, a Norse explorer, had hoped its name would encourage others to settle in the area. It was covered in ice at the time, and had remained so up until very recently.
While Biden’s criticism of Johnson may have made some laugh, many climate advocates are disgruntled with the White House’s insufficient proposals to address the climate crisis. Although the president’s original infrastructure plan included a number of ambitious proposals for addressing the climate crisis, much of what he promised earlier this year regarding the climate and the environment has been removed from a bipartisan bill a group of senators have proposed — and which Biden may end up supporting.
In anticipation of the Biden administration’s compromise on climate, a group of more than 130 Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives wrote a letter to the president this week urging him not to waste this moment, and to include his climate crisis-inspired provisions that he originally promoted in the final infrastructure bill.
“This is a historic, narrow opportunity to combat the climate crisis, and we can’t afford to kick the can down the road any further,” the Sunrise Movement’s Lauren Maunus recently said. “When Democrats agree to water it down more, they’re condemning Americans to untold devastation.”
Movement activists have taken direct action against leaving these provisions out of the final bill, including staging sit-ins at the entrances of the White House last week.