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Republican Congressman Offers Mind-Numbing Explanation for Rising Sea Levels

Weird science: Rep. Brooks on Wednesday offered his House colleagues a creative hypothesis to explain why sea levels are rising. (Flickr / repmobrooks)(CC BY-SA 2.0)

In 2015, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., set the bar for Republican climate denialism when he presented a snowball on the Senate floor as evidence that global warming is, in fact, a hoax. Three years later, the GOP may have found a new standard-bearer.

During a House Science Committee hearing Wednesday on how technology can be used to address climate change, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., hypothesized that rising sea levels were not a product of climbing temperatures but of fragments of earth tumbling into the ocean.

“Every time you have that soil or rock deposited into the seas, that causes the sea level to rise, because now you’ve got less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up,” he explained. “What about the white cliffs of Dover, Calif., where time and time again you’re having the waves crash against the shorelines, and time and time again, you’re having the cliffs crash into the sea. All that displaces water, which forces it to rise, does it not?”

Philip Duffy, a Ph.D. and former senior adviser to the White House National Science and Technology Council, was quick to point out the crushingly obvious—that warmer temperatures have coincided with sea level rises throughout history and that on a human time scale, the effects of rock and soil deposits were “minuscule.”

Duffy’s explanation probably fell on deaf ears. During his time in Congress, Brooks has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of climate science, suggesting that global warming is not necessarily caused by humans. “If you look at climatological data going back centuries or millennia, we have periods of cooling, like the Ice Age, and warming. So it’s cyclical. So how are the proponents going to convince us that it’s not just part of a cyclical pattern?” he asked in 2011.

Ultimately, Brooks is right at home in a party whose president has theorized that global warming is a Chinese conspiracy. A Gallup poll in March found that 69 percent of Republicans believe the threat of climate change is “exaggerated,” despite a recent spate of historic natural disasters.

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