WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak’s twitter comments Monday that called global warming alarmists “unpatriotic racists” made the media rounds for 24 hours. It immediately met shock and awe from critics. But it shouldn’t be shocking that one of American’s most beloved game show hosts believes climate change is all hype, because many of the Republican members of Congress do, too.
But that hasn’t changed the minds of Republicans in Congress. Fifty-six percent of House Republicans and 65 percent of GOP Senators publicly deny humans are responsible for the changing climate, according to data compiled by Think Progress.
You’ve heard the reasoning behind why climate change is made up, or doesn’t come from humans — like blaming volcanoes or saying snow in the winter proves warming isn’t happening. But most of the explanationshave been debunked and with 97 percent of published climate papers agreeing that climate change is happening, deniers appear to be in the clear minority.
So how do they stay so firmly in … denial? Maybe it’s politics.
According to Think Progress, 163 climate denying elected representatives from the 113th Congress received about $59 million from the fossil fuel industry. Although all types of members of Congress have likely sought the contributions of fossil fuel companies—there’s a lot of money there—the 163 deniers received more funding compared to the remaining non-denying members of Congress who received about $35 million in funding over their careers.
Other big political funders for the Republican Party, like the Koch Brothers, have a huge stake in fossil fuels and deregulation. In 2013 Koch Industries, which is involved in industries such as refining and chemicals, was the second largest private business in the United States. The company has spent more than $22 million on political contributions since 1990 and almost $90 million in lobbying since 1998.
So before you go scratching your head about why climate deniers STILL exist—think about the dollar signs.