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May 26, 2011 

Rep. Rohrabacher Distorts Facts about Causes of Climate Change

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) suggested that trees cause global warming and that climate change could be combated by “subsidizing the clearing of rainforests” at the House Foreign Affairs oversight subcommittee hearing he chaired on May 25.

Rep. Rohrabacher is not just wrong, he has it backwards. In fact, clearing tropical forests causes about 15 percent of global warming pollution—more than the total yearly emissions from every car, truck, plane, ship and train on Earth. When trees are cut down, they begin emitting the carbon dioxide they have stored over their lifetimes. That’s why it is so important to preserve tropical forests.

In addition, they absorb some of the excess carbon dioxide that’s building up in our atmosphere, trapping heat much like a blanket surrounding the Earth.

The Union of Concerned Scientists issued a report, “Out of the Woods: A Realistic Role for Tropical Forests in Curbing Global Warming,” in December 2008 showing that one of the cheapest and most effective things the world can do to avoid the worst consequences of climate change is to stop tropical deforestation.

This is not the first time Rohrabacher has shared his personal musing on the causes of global warming. He previously suggested it was caused by ‘dinosaur flatulence.’


The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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