Politics

Arizona Republican Paul Gosar was embarrassing in the Cohen hearing, but he's even worse on climate

Rep. Paul Gosar might have been most notable in the Michael Cohen hearing not because he spent his time making false statements about how Cohen appearing before a House committee could reduce his sentence—it can’t—but because he spent most of his time reading tweets from the Twitter handle Women for Cohen. Even though Cohen had already explained it was a joke. Though other Republicans had already read the same tweets … none of that seemed to bother Gosar. Eventually, after he read the tweets and repeated the word “pathological” four times, not without effort, he stumbled to a halt without ever asking a question and with no closing remarks. 

But that’s not Gosar’s only display of genuine GOP excellence. As Axios reports, a student at a Washington press conference asked the Arizona Republican about the Green New Deal. Gosar didn’t just give a laughable response—he gave one that will stick.

“Unfortunately you haven’t been taught about photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is where plants take carbon dioxide to produce oxygen. That’s a problem in today’s world. We haven’t taught kids exactly what’s going on in America and in science.”

What’s most impressive here may be that Gosar knows at least a small part about the process of photosynthesis—though he has described it in far less detail than is required by most sixth-grade classes. As for what real scientists understand, here’s a note from the current issue of Nature, celebrating 40 years of close observations of global temperatures—and noting the reason those temperatures were being studied in the first place. In 1979, the National Academy of Sciences published the Charney Report. That report covered the findings of an ad hoc group created to look at the effects of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That report warned that the amount of carbon dioxide was constantly increasing, and about what it might bring. Forty years later, the report is still remarkably prescient: “We estimate the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3 °C with a probable error of ±1.5 °C.” That’s what the math showed then. It’s what measurements have demonstrated since.

Photosynthesis is indeed “where plants take carbon dioxide to produce oxygen.” But we are putting out more carbon dioxide than plants can absorb. We have been doing so for decades. That’s the problem. That, and the fact that we haven’t taught congressional representatives what’s going on in America and in science. Gosar, who has a 3 percent record on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard, and who has voted to allow drilling in all national parks, has a degree in dentistry. The only possible conclusion is that he’s been trying to absorb a lot of a gas. and it isn’t carbon dioxide.


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