Last week, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) attempted to deny the reality of man-made climate change by sharing a bunch of his personal ‘assumptions’ about Greenland which have all been thoroughly debunked by science.
In an interview with The New York Times, Johnson stated that Greenland got its name because its first settlers were amazed by how many trees there were.
“I could be wrong there, but that’s always been my assumption that, at some point in time, those early explorers saw green,” Johnson said. “I have no idea.”
Business Insider pointed out on Monday:
In reality, Erik Thorvaldsson, a Viking settler also known as Erik the Red, gave Greenland a misleading name in the hopes of attracting Europeans to the island. The Danish territory has been covered in ice and glaciers for at least 2.5 million years.
Johnson made the same dubious claim in 2010.
“You know, there’s a reason Greenland was called Greenland,” Johnson told WKOW-TV 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.”
In fact, Greenland is warming so rapidly that an unstoppable collapse of its ice sheet may only be decades away. The consequences of irreversible melting include sea levels rising by tens of feet and disruptions to crucial ocean currents such as the Atlantic jet stream.
Greenland’s enormous glossy-white surface also reflects solar radiation, which helps cool the planet. As it disappears and the greater areas of dark bedrock become exposed, the Earth will absorb more energy from the Sun, causing more heating.
That same year, Johnson said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that sunspots, rather than copious greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, were responsible for global warming.
“If you take a look at geologic time, we’ve had huge climate swings,” he said. “I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven, not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate.”
In 2019, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) explained that what Johnson “believes” is not true:
According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the current scientific consensus is that long and short-term variations in solar activity play only a very small role in Earth’s climate. Warming from increased levels of human-produced greenhouse gases is actually many times stronger than any effects due to recent variations in solar activity.
For more than 40 years, satellites have observed the Sun’s energy output, which has gone up or down by less than 0.1 percent during that period. Since 1750, the warming driven by greenhouse gases coming from the human burning of fossil fuels is over 50 times greater than the slight extra warming coming from the Sun itself over that same time interval.
The Times noted on Sunday that Johnson’s views have not changed, despite an overwhelming consensus among the world’s scientists that modern climate change is driven almost exclusively by excess carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.