Ron Johnson: "There's A Reason Greenland Was Called Greenland"

August 23, 2010 3:11 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Ron Johnson, the Republican frontrunner looking to unseat Sen. Russ Feingold (R-WI), has been getting plenty of flack for saying that climate change is not anthropogenic, but rather the result of "sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate."  The remarks were made during an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board last week.  His campaign has since tried to clarify the baseless comments in a "Fact Check" published on his campaign site:

Claim: Johnson believes sunspots are the cause of global warming.

Truth: Johnson's quote was used in the broader context of his argument against passing legislation such as cap and trade that would raises taxes and put tens of thousands out of work in Wisconsin. Several reports however focused only on a single remark rather than the true intent of the answer.

As his campaign explains it, Johnson is the victim of a media conspiracy to ignore "the true intent of the answer," which was to attack climate change legislation.  But reporters focused instead on the true content of Johnson's answer, which included the confusing claim that global warming isn't a problem because of something to do with sunspots. 

Yet another statement Johnson made during the same interview is even less grounded in science.

"There's a reason Greenland was called Greenland," he said. "It was actually green at one point in time. And it's been, since, it's a whole lot whiter now."

Greenland was once a lush and hospitable paradise, climate change denialists argue, and therefore, it's frigid and inhospitable climate is representative of a natural cycle.  But that's not even remotely true.  As Grist's Coby Beck explains, "a quick reality check shows that Greenland's ice cap is hundreds of thousands of years old and covers over 80% of the island."