One of the most consistent trends in this year’s congressional primary challengers is the demonstration of scientific illiteracy on the issue of climate change. In Maryland’s 2nd district, for example, Democratic challenger Jeff Miller confuses the small scale of local climate action with a lack of collective impact on the global scale.
Just next door in the 3rd congressional district comes another example, from John Kibler who is competing against Democratic incumbent John Sarbanes. Kibler suggests that he doubts that global warming is real, but proposes that, if we are going to fight global warming, instead of regulating carbon dioxide emissions, chlorine should be targeted. Kibler argues,
“Chlorine ‘eats’ more ozone than most anything, and one atom ‘eats’ for 3 years or so. If global warming is truly for real, we should shut down chlorinated swimming pools. All that chlorine being evaporated isnâ€™t good for the ozone.”
The trouble with Kibler’s argument is that he confuses the issue of global warming with the issue of ozone depletion. Depletion of the ozone layer high in Earth’s atmosphere leads to increased radiation from the sun reaching the surface of the planet where we live, but it doesn’t contribute to global warming. Without an understanding of this basic distinction, it’s impossible to come to a coherent policy position for research into and reduction of global climate change. A politician like Kibler who can’t comprehend basic scientific matters such as this is incompetent to serve in Congress.