Climate change group targets Syracuse Republican in 2012 vote


Ann Marie Buerkle is being targeted by environmentalists because of her stance on climate change (Photo: Buerkle campaign)

The Washington Post is reporting that a group called the League of Conservation Voters will target five Republicans across the US who are “climate change deniers” in this year’s campaign.

One of their objectives is unseating a GOP House member from Syracuse, Ann Marie Buerkle, who is locked in a tight contest with Democrat Dan Maffei.  This from the Post’s story:

During a televised campaign debate in 2010, Buerkle said that “a lot of the global warming myth has been exposed.” While she later explained that she was specifically referring to pirated e-mails from climate scientists, which came to light in an incident known as Climate-gate, she added that “the jury’s still out” on whether fossil fuel burning contributes to global warming.

The League of Conservation Voters says it will try to brand its political targets as the “Flat Earth Five.”  The group only has about $1.5 million to spend, but in closely fought House races, those dollars could be significant.

According to the Post, Buerkle’s campaign manager, David Ray, declined to talk about the specifics of climate change science, but he said Buerkle rejects using the cap and trade policy pioneered in part by Republicans to reduce carbon pollution.

“What she doesn’t support is Dan Maffei and Nancy Pelosi’s cap-and-trade energy tax that would raise electricity rates by 40 percent without doing anything to help the environment.”

The Post says the group has announced that one of its other campaigns will be aimed at a GOP lawmaker in Michigan.  The remaining three targets for spending haven’t yet been revealed.



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73 Comments on “Climate change group targets Syracuse Republican in 2012 vote”

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  1. PNElba says:

    The jury is still out? Who exactly is the “jury”? I would think it would be qualified climatology researchers and appropriate scientific organizations. If that is the case, the jury is certainly not “still out”.

    Buerkle makes that statement, probably not because she believes it, but rather because it will garner her votes from conservatives who no longer believe in conservation.

  2. Peter Hahn says:

    she’s a ding-bat. She might actually believe it.

  3. Paul says:

    All this does is give her publicity on a national level. It seems counterproductive? In some districts being included in the “flat earth five” may get you more votes than you lose! Crazy.

  4. Brian Mann says:

    Peter – Please no perjorative stuff. Talk about issues, ideas, don’t name-call.

    Brian, NCPR

  5. Mervel says:

    Well it will be interesting to see if the topic has much traction with voters.

    Right now people are just not fired up about climate change. Most polls show it is not even in the top ten concerns of most voters.

  6. Peter Hahn says:

    I used to live in Syracuse, which is in the congressional district she was just elected from. She was one of those tea party inspired candidates from the last wave. She is not highly thought of by the people I know, but that isnt a random sample. Her positions on issues that are important to me seem to not be grounded in science. But I shouldn’t have referred to her that way.

  7. Larry says:

    Why make a linkage between Conservatives and an anti-conservation viewpoint? It just isn’t so. It is the shrill, preachy tone of many climate change Cassandras that puts a lot of people off. Conservatism is not the problem.

  8. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry – that was a play on words . But you don’t think that modern conservatives are also anti-conservation? what about drilling for oil in Alaskan wilderness? fracking in the grand canyon?

  9. Larry says:

    Sorry, I don’t understand your comment about a play on words. In any case, I do not think that conservatives are anti-conservation. Disagreeing with liberals does not make one anti conservation. Is there only one way to think about oil drilling or fracking?

  10. Larry: disagreeing with conservation makes one anti-conservation.

    The linkage you’re questioning is because denying the reality of climate change is a required position in the hyper-conservative orthodoxy.

  11. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry – conservative and conservation are very similar words with similar roots. I suspect PNelba used those two words in the phase “conservatives who no longer believe in conservation” as a play on words to make a clever point. That is what I was referring to.

  12. Larry says:

    Jesus (in a prayerful sense, albeit in a public forum), can I get a word in here without everyone trying to prove how smart and clever they are?

  13. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry – its not meant to be personal. Looks like I’m going to have to appologize twice in the same series.

    But that was a serious question about conservatives and conservation. It seems to me that modern conservatives are much more interested in natural resource extraction and exploitation than natural resource conservation.

    And Marie Buerkle a doctrinaire conservativewho believes that climate change is a myth.

  14. Peter Hahn says:

    She is also representing a district that is much more confortable with a moderate democrat or republican. I dont imagine she will be re elected. But who knows.

  15. JDM says:

    PNElba: “the jury is certainly not “still out””

    Here’s some data from Washington Post. Looks like 60% still think that the jury is “still out”.

    Hmmm. More media propaganda needed, I guess.

    In terms of what can be done about it, about 55 percent say a “great deal” or “good amount” can be done to reduce future global warming. At the same time, 60 percent of those polled say it will be extremely or very difficult for people to stop it.

  16. Ken Hall says:

    I for one am happy that global warming deniers running for and in elected office are being targeted for denial of and removal from elected office in the USA.

    Recent attempts by North Carolina to “forbid any state agency to make policies on sea-level change until 2016” in an effort to reduce the effects that sea level rise would have on the value of waterfront property is an example of desperate measures deniers are willing to affect.

  17. Walker says:

    JDM, if 99% of the general population believed that the earth was flat, it would still be round. If you poll climate scientists, an overwhelming majority believe that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity.

    Have you read Bill McKibben’s new article? Take a look.

  18. mervel says:

    Ken has got a good point about property values.

    That may in the end be the thing that spurs people to action. When your home values decreases massively because of rising sea levels, you will want to do something about it. Or in this case you will want to officially pretend everything is fine. Which of course is your option, just don’t ask the rest of the country to re-build your flood ravaged homes and cities and pay for your insurance for homes built in the path of climate change events.

  19. Paul says:

    Mervel, I was thinking that we should start investing in property inland since it may soon be water frontage!

  20. PNElba says:

    JDM –

    At the risk of sounding smart and clever, what does your link have to do with my post about who I think the jury should consist of?

    And, it seems your link shows that 60% of those polled do think climate change is occurring since they say they don’t think it can be stopped. But I guess we all interpret data differently.

  21. JDM says:


    If 60% of the people didn’t think there was life on Mars, it would be incorrect to say that the science has definitely concluded there was life on Mars. The jury would “still be out”.

    Eventually, when there is 98% or so agreement, not only in the scientific community, but within the general population, one could say that the “jury is not out”.

    It is only among the far left that there is no longer room for debate. Why? Because they fear the conclusions that debate would bring. The man-made global warming argument is so full of holes, no one dares open it up to scrutiny.

    The uk news recently reported an article that German researchers found scientific evidence that it was warmer on earth, 2000 years ago than it is now.

    Why the uk news? Because the US news is afraid to publish these results. They live in a glass house, and they know it. One article could shatter there whole pretend-theory.

    Also, for what it’s worth, when “science” discovers a catastrophe whose only hope for salvation for the entire world is a massive transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor, one has to wonder about the motivations of such a theory.

    Here is the uk article, again.

  22. PNElba says:

    The uk news recently reported an article that German researchers found scientific evidence that it was warmer on earth, 2000 years ago than it is now.

    Why the uk news? Because the US news is afraid to publish these results. They live in a glass house, and they know it. One article could shatter there whole pretend-theory.

    Geez, this is tiresome. In fact, the article you cite doesn’t shatter anything. You would know this if you actually followed the scientific literature. This paper is discussed in all the climate change sites and climatologists are excited about it.

    Here is what one of the authors of that paper has to say:

    “Our study doesn’t go against anthropogenic global warming in any way,” said Robert Wilson, a paleoclimatologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a co-author of the study, which appeared July 8 in the journal Nature Climate Change. The tree rings do help fill in a piece of Earth’s complicated climate puzzle, he said. However, it is climate change deniers who seem to have misconstrued the bigger picture.

  23. JDM says:

    PNElba: surely you can provide evidence to your statement “all the climatologists are excited about it”.

    I mean, surely, you’re not just saying that to make your point.

  24. Walker says:

    JDM writes: “It is only among the far left that there is no longer room for debate.”

    Not true: “…there is virtually unanimous agreement in the scientific community that human-caused global warming is real.” Wikipedia

  25. PNElba says:

    I guess you got me there JDM. Proof that climate change is a pretend theory. Good job.

  26. Mervel says:

    I am usually open to a variety of conspiracy theories. But in this case global climate change would mean that developing countries would be made much worse off by not being allowed to develop using fossil fuel energy sources. So I don’t see it really as a wealth transfer from rich to poor. If China had been told you can’t build a coal power plant a week, they would not have the high growth economy that they have enjoyed, the same holds for India.

    The biggest danger for climate change is not the US or Europe, we have the ability to change and modify our energy consumption through technology, the biggest challenge is places like China, Southeast Asia, India and Africa. Those places will at some point all be like China and China is not nearly done. Most Chinese are still rice farming peasants, what sort of energy consumption are you looking at when every Chinese family has one to two cars? The same holds for Africa?

  27. Mervel says:

    If the threat spurs massive changes in how we fuel the world, why would that be bad?

  28. Larry says:

    The problem here is that most of the posters have confused personal belief with absolute truth. Merely believing something or being personally convinced of something does not make it so. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and the purpose of these forums is (or at least I think the purpose is) to exchange information and debate issues. Demonstrations of soi-disant intelligence and bombastic proclamations of “fact” do nothing to advance the debate. On the other hand, maybe I am wrong about the purpose of these forums. Could be it’s all about who loves the sound of their own voice.

  29. JDM says:

    Mervel: “So I don’t see it really as a wealth transfer from rich to poor.”

    Energy-credits. The US pays per-carbon-thing used and the UN or someone supposedly gives it to the poor nations. (or at least to the rich rulers of the poor nations)

  30. Dave says:

    There has been a very distinct shift in the conversation about climate change.

    When this all started several years back, conservatives denied the very existence of climate change… at all. It wasn’t happening, they told us.

    Then reality started to hit them over the head like a hurricane and it became impossible, even by their standards, to deny that the climate is indeed changing… so they pulled back and set up their defenses around the cause of climate change instead.

    It went from, “You fools, the climate isn’t changing” to “Ok, the climate is changing but, you fools, it isn’t because humans are dumping CO2 into the atmosphere”

    What changed between those two statements? Not the facts, and not what the scientific community was telling us. That remained constant and the scientific community got a big fat “I told you so” out of it.

    What changed is that people started to experience climate change themselves. It hit their towns, their neighbors, their property. And so to claim that this wasn’t happening at all became politically impossible.

    What that tells me is, among other things, that for some people the debate (more to the point, not appearing to lose the debate) is more important to them than what might actually be happening to our climate. That they will take the contrarian position on this no matter what the scientific community tells them, and they will only be moved from their position when it becomes politically impossible to maintain it.

    So targeting deniers to make it politically hard for them to maintain reality denying positions is a good thing.

    Whether it will work or not… who knows. We, the American public, are very very slow to adjust to science based facts – even slower when those issues might affect our bank accounts. I always wondered if a problem would eventually come around whose fuse was shorter than the time it takes us to catch on to it. This may be it, but I hope not.

  31. Walker says:

    “Everyone is entitled to an opinion…” but some people are more entitled than others, and I don’t mean me. I mean climate scientists who publish in peer-reviewed journals. If you want to know what’s go on with the economy, you don’t poll the public, you ask economists.

    “97–98% of the most published climate researchers say humans are causing global warming.” Wikipedia: Global warming controversy– Scientific consensus

    I don’t know how you read that as meaning it’s still a tossup.

  32. Walker says:

    “But in this case global climate change would mean that developing countries would be made much worse off by not being allowed to develop using fossil fuel energy sources.”

    Mervel, the consequences of global warming are going to be felt by all, and especially by those in developing nations.

    Besides, you don’t decide whether to believe something because you don’t like it’s implications. It it’s true, it’s true.

    Have you read this article by Bill McKibben?

  33. PNElba says:

    I am a scientist but not a climatologist. I will continue to “believe” in the scientific method until some better method of explaining the natural world comes along. A healthy majority of climatologists, supported by a healthy majority of scientific organizations, say the scientific evidence supports climate change theory due to increased amounts of man-made CO2 in the atmosphere. That last sentence is actually a fact that can be supported by evidence. So it seems scientifically reasonable to accept the climate change theory.

    But unlike many climate change deniers (sorry, I don’t know what other term to use), my “belief” in the theory of global warming can be changed because it’s not based on my worldview or politics. It’s based on scientific evidence and reason. Call me fickle – most scientist are. When good scientific evidence is presented that undermines the theory, I’ll modify my views accordingly.

  34. Mervel says:


    I would think there would be some way to short sell coastal real estate?

  35. Mervel says:

    JDM, yes energy credits I find pretty stupid and foolhardy. But I think that is a good point, those kinds of stupid solutions are dangerous and when those kinds of things are tied to the science of climate change you get people reacting against the whole thing as a scam.

  36. JDM says:

    Walker: “I don’t know how you read that as meaning it’s still a tossup.”

    Sure. Everyone knows Wikipedia isn’t a bunch of leftists posting opinions.

  37. Mervel says:

    Things like Koyoto, what a scam that was, it was all smoke and mirrors and the countries that made a big deal about signing and I guess feeling good that they were doing something, did worse than nothing. The signers of that treaty actually increased their carbon output. The treaty did nothing. I mean in retrospect Bush should have signed it and done nothing like the other countries. If all we come up with for the response to climate change is that the US owes someone money, well I understand the negative response to climate change.

  38. Paul says:

    It is interesting that some folks are, like you say, “climate change” deniers. If you can’t get that one across them then forget about even talking about the causes.

    I think it is a legitimate point to say that we could be unable to solve the problem by changing our behavior. It is possible but very very un-probable. Look at China, even though they are doing a good job at keeping CO2 emissions low per capita, with their growth rate emissions are going to continue to skyrocket. As their standard of living increases their per capita emissions will grow. That is not a good formula. We are trying (with some success) to push our citizens in the other direction. But facing what is going on in other parts of the world that may be a band-aid at best.

    The key maybe sequestration technology. We need to come up with a way to make sure that when we burn coal or whatever we don’t put the CO2 into the atmosphere. This should be our “put a man on the moon” project over the next decade. We should also continue to invest in other projects, alternative energy, etc. But I think that sequestration is the only way to save us in the short term. It may also be the only way to get over the political divide as well.

  39. Peter Hahn says:

    “Everyone is entitled to an opinion “… Thats only partially true. If you have an opinion, and are then presented with facts that indicate that your opinion is incorrect, you arent still entitled to insist on your opinion, unless you can show that something is wrong with those facts.

    In this case, “scientific opinion” is unequivocally on the side of climate change and almost as unequivocally on the side of man-made climate change. None of the deniers on this blog have taken the trouble to look at the scientific arguments. Instead they quote entertainers – right-wing radio talk show hosts or bloggers who cut and paste newspaper stories.

    Check out the national academy of science. Ive said this many times before, but they have put together all the data and arguments (pros and cons) in a form in which any reasonably educated person can follow. Completely devoid of propaganda, histrionics, or hyperbole.

  40. Walker says:

    “…sequestration is the only way to save us in the short term. It may also be the only way to get over the political divide as well.”

    Sequestration is certainly critical, but it’s not going to be cost-free, and those who have to bear its cost are going to fight it tooth and nail. You would think, though, that energy companies would have a huge interest in sequestration technology, as it is possible that we will finally wake up to the idea (again, see McKibben) that we can’t afford to burn more than 20% of proven reserves without running into catastrophe. If big oil would get behind sequestration, in the end, they might just improve their bottom line.

  41. Walker says:

    “Everyone knows Wikipedia isn’t a bunch of leftists posting opinions.”

    Yeah, right. First of all, you don’t “post” on Wikipedia, you edit. And you don’t add content that constitutes opinion– content has to backed up by reliable sources. Every major article has a Talk Page associated with it, on which the editors discuss (sometimes endlessly) changes to the article.

    Wikipedia has a solid group of conservative editors who work to keep liberal editors in check, and vice versa. Doubt what I’m saying? Try making an unsubstantiated change to one of the pages on Climate Change, and see how long it lasts. It’s easy– you don’t even need an account to do it. But on a controversial article, it’s no easy matter to push an agenda.

    As for that Wikipedia source I gave above, you don’t have to depend on the Wikipedia editors for its accuracy: it is footnoted, as (almost) all Wikipedia sources are. The statement that “97–98% of the most published climate researchers say humans are causing global warming” is sourced to an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. You can read the full text here.

  42. Paul says:


    I think that many large companies are already getting behind the technology. Look at ADM and Alcoa and the projects that they have with the DOE. Also as oil and gas companies realize that they can use the captured carbon for enhanced oil recovery even they are coming on-board. Yes there is a cost but projects that use the captured carbon to make other products (like plastics and other polymers) are pretty exciting and a way to turn the extra “cost” maybe back into a profit. The only thing better that revenue neutral is that is makes you money. Both sides of the isle like that. Heck, you might even get JDM on-board? My favorite technology here is how we can use captured carbon to grow micro-algae to produce bio-fuel. There is a project in Ohio where they are taking the CO2 emissions from a coal burning power plant and turning it into biofuel. Very cool.

  43. Walker says:

    Sounds good, Paul, I hope you’re right! And I hope we can move fast enough to reverse the atmospheric buildup before its too late. There’s something worthy of prayer (preferably private prayer).

  44. Mervel says:

    The issue is that proven reserves is not a stable number. Right now we are in the middle of an oil and natural gas exploration boom. Natural gas producers are upset because there is too much supply causing prices to fall. Natural gas is actually putting coal out of business, which is probably a good thing. I think oil/gas companies do not believe that they are anywhere close to finding all of the oil and natural gas out there, how many more new giant oil and natural gas discoveries are yet to be found? If anyone had said even 10 years ago, North Dakota will produce more oil than Texas in 10 years and possibly produce more oil than most Middle East countries in 20 years no one would have bought it.

  45. Walker says:

    Mervel, according to McKibben, long before we get to the end of our reserves, we will have put too much carbon into the atmosphere to be able to survive the result, long term. So it’s not about our reserves.

    If Paul’s technological fix can be ramped up in time, then reserves will matter. But if not, then not, not in the long run. Anyone who has children should be taking this stuff very, very seriously.

  46. Peter Hahn says:

    no one is going to fund sequestration research as long as the deniers are insisting that climate change isnt happening. And its going to take a lot or research.

  47. Mervel says:

    There are a variety of technological possibilities. Some of them are kind of wild though. It seems to me thought they would be last resorts because they are risky.

    I think you will get research going as soon as people feel real impacts in the sense that their home on the coast is now worthless or whatever the financial impact is. If climate change costs are actually impacting wealthy people and our economy, you will see research pour into this field. The question is one of timing.

    I mean the changes that we have now are a result of carbon we put in the atmosphere 10 or 20 years ago correct?

  48. Walker says:

    Mervel, you continue to write as if we can wait for homes on the coast to become worthless and only then start to attack the problem. I don’t think it works that way.

  49. Paul says:

    Peter, The US government and many companies (there is VC funding also) are paying for sequestration research right now. I don’t know what you are talking about.

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