In a post-fact era, you can be an elected official and have a remarkably flexible relationship with the truth. Take climate science: more than 97% of scientists agree that climate change is a man-made phenomenon, but conservative politicians—and more than 65% of Republicans in Congress—outdo one another to demonstrate just how little they believe in science.
While that’s not exactly news, a new project by the site Think Progress aims to put the spotlight on just who climate change deniers are and where they come from, with a map of the U.S. showing the number of climate-denying legislators per state. According to the map, seven states have more than half their legislative caucus in Washington denying climate change. Nine states—Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware—don’t send a single climate-denying legislator to Washington.
Click on a state, and the site links to a page listing the names of each climate change denying legislator who calls that location home, with an excerpt of the language he or she would have used to land on the list in the first place. Some of the quotes are true gems that seem to be regurgitated from the same cocktail party. A favorite word of climate deniers is "settled," as in "Science is never settled," according to Texas Congressman K. Michael Conaway, who added, "They changed the phraseology because the climate isn’t warming." (Because, in fact, it’s changing—cooling in some places, warming in others.)
The facts about legislators are juxtaposed with data on how many climate-related disasters each state has faced since 2011. The U.S. has declared 368 climate-related disaster over that period and has faced 25 extreme weather events that caused more than $1 billion in damage. The point the map hopes to make is that denying climate change has a cost, particularly in states like Oklahoma, where most legislators deny climate change and 38 disasters have been declared in the past two years.