The Post Register sent every Idaho legislator a four-question survey designed to measure attitudes about climate change — whether it is happening, why it is happening and how much of a threat it represents.
Only nine of the state’s 105 legislators responded, and four of those were Democrats. Since 80 percent of seats in the Legislature are held by Republicans, the survey wasn’t even close to representative.
So the survey didn’t have much value for measuring attitudes of the Legislature as a whole — which probably aren’t much of a secret — but it did produce some interesting responses.
Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, is a veteran conservative lawmaker. He served 10 years in the Legislature during the 1970s and ’80s, and returned for a second stint in 2010.
Bateman holds to the scientific consensus on climate change.
“I tend to agree with the broad consensus in the scientific community that human activities are a major factor contributing toward global warming,” he wrote in an email, though he said it is difficult to assess how serious the problem is.
Bateman referenced a 2011 letter from 18 Brigham Young University scientists to the Utah Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee, which had attacked a University of Utah climatologist after he presented them with the consensus view on climate change.
The BYU scientists, who said they had varying political views but supported sound science, charged that Utah legislators on the committee had given inordinate weight to the “fringe positions” of skeptics while ignoring the consensus that global warming is being helped along by human activity.
But Bateman questioned the wisdom of surveying lawmakers about the causes of climate change.
“When we’re sick we go to a doctor, not an architect,” he wrote. “When we need our teeth fixed we go to a dentist and not a lawyer. If we have questions about global warming, it might be wiser to listen to majority opinions among the scientific experts rather than to some of our politicians.”