Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY) has become the first GOP member of Congress in recent memory to flip from denying the science of man-made climate change climate to accepting it. He does so on this Sunday evening’s broadcast of Episode 3 of Showtime’s acclaimed docu-series, “Years of Living Dangerously.”
The Republican who represents Staten Island (and parts of Brooklyn) has long been on ThinkProgress’s list of science-denying members. And indeed at the start of the segment on the devastating impact of hurricane Sandy’s storm surge on Staten Island, correspondent Chris Hayes (of MSNBC) asks Grimm about recent climate change. Grimm replies:
I don’t think the science is there to tell us what’s causing it.… I don’t want to get into the political debate of what’s causing it.
But during the segment, which follows some of the victims of the storm surge and Grimm’s efforts to help them, the Republican Congressman from New York meets with Bob Inglis, a former conservative South Carolina Republican who now runs The Energy and Enterprise Initiative, which has the goal of getting conservatives to “take the lead on energy and climate by embracing solutions that are true to conservative principles.”
Here is the transcript of Grimm’s subsequent remarks on climate change:
CHRIS HAYES: Last time you and I spoke, you said the jury was still out on climate science. Do you still feel that way?
MICHAEL GRIMM: After speaking with Bob Inglis, it made me do some of my own research, you know, I looked at some of the stuff that he sent over, my staff looked at. But the mass majority of respected scientists say that it’s conclusive, the evidence is clear. So I don’t think the jury is out.
CHRIS HAYES: The basic story of – we’re putting carbon in the atmosphere, the planet’s getting warmer, that’s gonna make the sea levels rise -like, the basic story of that you pretty much agree with, right?
MICHAEL GRIMM: Sure, I mean there’s no question that, um, you know, the oceans have risen, right? And the climate change part is, is a real part of it. The problem that we’re gonna have right now- there’s no oxygen left in the room in Washington for another big debate, that’s the reality….
It is a remarkable on-air conversion, though Grimm still believes this country will not act because “I don’t think that humans in America, Americans, have the will to do it.” Hayes calls that “a terribly depressing statement.”
That’s especially so for Grimm’s constituents because if we don’t act to slash carbon pollution ASAP, then they (and much of the East Coast) will be experiencing Sandy-level storm surges on a regular basis by century’s end, according to a 2013 NOAA study.
You can see Episode 3 Sunday night at 10 PM on Showtime or anytime after that on Showtime-on-Demand.
By Joe Romm