Until yesterday, Senator Mark Kirk, from my old home state of Illinois, was one of the few elected Republicans willing to acknowledge the reality of climate change and man’s impact on it. Then this happened:
Kirk, who was serving in the House at the time but is now running for reelection in the Senate, described global warming Wednesday as a largely-natural phenomenon.
“We had the previous warming period, which was called the global optimum, and the best way to talk about that is when Leif Erickson went west from his home, he discovered a landmass that he called Greenland, because it was,” Kirk told a reporter from E&E News. “And that was called the global optimum, because the planet was much warmer. By calling Greenland ‘green land,’ we know that the climate has been changing pretty regularly within recorded memory.”
It might surprise you to learn that Mark Kirk’s grasp of Greenland’s history is only slightly less tenuous than his new grasp on climate science. But the big story wasn’t Kirk’s historical illiteracy, but rather his apparently total 180 degree shift on climate change. Confronted by the Chicago Tribune about the change, Kirk’s press people tried to walk it back a little:
Kirk’s spokeswoman, Danielle Varallo, did not respond to a Tribune question on whether Kirk was quoted accurately by E&E Daily. She said, however, the report did “not accurately reflect his position.”
She also issued a statement to the Tribune in which Kirk said: “Climate change is real and human beings definitely play a role. As I have said since 2010, I will not support a carbon tax or similar attempts which hurt the Illinois or American economy.”
Of course, in 2009 Kirk did, in fact, support a carbon tax, so at best this means he completely and suddenly flipped his position on this issue five years ago rather than yesterday. It’s not clear whether he’d pieced together his very sophisticated “Greenland has the word ‘green’ in the name” theory in 2010 as well.
Now Mark Kirk has never struck me as incoherent or imbecilic in the Louie Gohmert style, so I don’t think he’s having an attack of the stupids, but I do know that when Mark Kirk stakes out a public position, it’s probably a good idea to check his bank account for any large, recent deposits. And while oil and gas concerns are not big players in the Mark Kirk business right now, there is this one fairly recent development to consider:
An obscure arm of state government cleared the way Thursday for oil and gas drillers to apply for permits to begin fracking in Illinois, which could find itself the center of an oil boom by next fall if the energy firms that have leased land here begin to drill.
The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules moved forward regulations that govern hydraulic fracturing, a drilling process that injects water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into shale rock to unleash oil and gas.
So Mark Kirk is now towing the oil company line on carbon taxes a scant two months after Illinois opened itself up for fracking. Golly, I wonder if there’s any correlation there.