Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson recently argued for the "beneficial" aspects of climate change, adding that rising temperatures will only harm people in Africa.
During a Senate Budget Committee hearing, Johnson pestered economics professor and energy policy expert Dr. Michael Greenstone over the findings of the study he co-authored.
Published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics last year, the paper focused on the projected excess deaths from climate change, finding that there will likely be 85 excess deaths per 100,000 people every year by 2100 — 6.8 million annually.
"In terms of excess deaths, a warming globe's actually beneficial," Johnson said. "In my own state, your study shows that we would have a reduction in mortality of somewhere between 54 and 56 people per, I guess, it's 100,000. Why wouldn't we take comfort in that?"
While some colder areas in the United States would see less deaths due to rising temperatures, Greenstone explained that "the effects of climate change are going to be very unequal," as the lives lost in other areas would outnumber the lives saved elsewhere.
"Absolutely, Wisconsin, Chicago, where I live, the reduction in cold days, the benefits from that will outweigh the damages from the hot days," Greenstone said. "But if you look more carefully at that, there's large swatches of the country where the damages will be much larger."
Before he could continue, Johnson interrupted Greenstone, telling him that he was "misreading the results" of his own study.
"In terms of global health, in terms of excess death, we're actually in a better position to prevent death by having the climate increase in temperature a little bit," Johnson spouted.
Johnson said that the study was "very favorable to my state." Greenstone objected to say Johnson's "characterization" of the study he himself had written was "incorrect."
"Wisconsin will benefit in terms of mortality," Greenstone responded. "There are 49 other states in the United States. Many of them will suffer. Many of them will suffer more than Wisconsin will gain. And that is the nature of climate change, it's very unequal."
Johnson then proclaimed that there should be no concern over climate change, as it is only harming the people of Africa.
"[There is] concern if you're in the really hot region of Africa. But in terms of United States and most of Europe, we're in pretty good shape," he said.
A report released this week attributed East Africa’s worst drought in at least 40 years to human-caused climate change. Rising global temperatures from burning fossil fuels displaced over a million in the Horn of Africa, leaving 23 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia “severely food insecure," as well as lacking drinking water.
“Climate change is not just something our children need to worry about — it’s already here,” Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, told The New York Times. “People on the front lines of the climate crisis need, and deserve, financial help to recover and rebuild their lives.”