Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin touted the “beneficial” aspects of climate change while tussling with an energy policy expert during a Senate Budget Committee hearing.
Johnson questioned Dr. Michael Greenstone, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, during the hearing on Wednesday. The senator took issue with the findings of a study that Greenstone had recently co-authored, arguing that Americans should “take comfort” in global warming.
Greenstone’s paper, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics last year, focused on the economic impacts of climate change causing a projected 85 excess global deaths per 100,000 people every year by 2100.
The study also found that although deaths would increase in some parts of the U.S. and the country would “incur adaptation costs amounting to 10 death equivalents per 100,000,” there would be 0.2 fewer overall U.S. deaths per 100,000 people by 2100.
Johnson said that he did not “put any stock in” the projections of Greenstone’s study before arguing that it had shown climate change was “pretty good” for the U.S. and an overall positive since it would lead to warming in cold areas like Wisconsin.
“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?”
Greenstone said that “the effects of climate change are going to be very unequal” while responding to Johnson.