Climate change is happening. In fact, it’s been happening for millions of years. But over the past 150 or so years, humans have exponentially increased greenhouse gas emissions which continue to alter climate patterns across the globe. While many people – including 97-98% of all climate scientists and every national academy of sciences on the planet – believe this to be true, our GOP Presidential Candidate frontrunners seem to be having some trouble understanding.
In fact, the Pacific Institute awarded their top 2011 Climate B.S. (bad science, of course) of the Year Award to All of the Republican Candidates for President. Their reasoning?
“Being anti-science in general, and anti-climate science in particular, seems a requirement for nomination to lead the Republican Party… The choice among the current Republican candidates on the issue of climate change is scientific ignorance, disdain for science, blatant misrepresentation of facts, or naked political expediency…”
Unfortunately, the award is well deserved.
Sometimes Mitt believes in climate change, and sometimes he doesn’t. While governor of Massachusetts in 2004, he promoted a state Climate Protection Plan aimed at reducing the states’ greenhouse gas emissions. Upon the final plan’s adoption, however, Romney attached a letter stressing his own uncertainty about climate change but belief that the plan “would still help our economy, our quality of life, and the quality of our environment.”
In his 2010 book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Romney wrote that he believed climate change was happening and that “human activity is a contributing factor.” In June 2011, he even suggested that we should “reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases” to combat climate change.
Fast-forward four months, and Romney claims, “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.” Really, Romney? Even though you said earlier that reducing emissions would still help our economy, quality of life, and the quality of our environment? Even though you said you believed in climate change just four months ago?
Newt took a bold national stance on the matter in 2008. Sitting beside former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for in an Alliance for Climate Protection television ad, Gingrich stated “Our country must take action to address climate change.”
Bold bipartisan move? Maybe at the time, but Gingrich recently had a major change of heart. In December 2011, Gingrich claimed that “The dumbest thing I’ve done in the last four years was sit on a couch with Nancy Pelosi.”
While he might think that was his dumbest move, I can think of a whole lot more – especially in regards to flip-flopping on climate change issues. Over the past thirty years, Gingrich stated that there is both sufficient evidence of climate change and no conclusive proof. He supported cap-and-trade programs and testified against them before a Congressional committee. He even co-sponsored a bill while in the House explaining that climate change was caused by humans and then said later he didn’t know if humans were to blame. Still, Gingrich sticks by his belief in “green conservatism” where “wealth and freedom generally lead to better environmental practices.” My response.
So that brings us to Rick Santorum. Among other radical beliefs, Santorum has never “accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative” of climate change. Earlier this month he went SO far as to utter the following statement:
“I for one never bought the hoax. I, for one, understand just from science that there are one hundred factors that influence the climate. To suggest that one minor factor of which man’s contribution is a minor factor in the minor factor is the determining ingredient in the sauce that affects the entire global warming and cooling is just absurd on its face.”
The hoax Santorum refers to is on that the international scientific community has been on board with for years. Instead of denying the validity of their work, Santorum skips go and collects 200 radical conservatives by flat out calling climate change a conspiracy for “more government control of your life.”
This shouldn’t be surprising given Santorum’s anti-environmental stance on most important environmental issues. He’s on the record for wanting to abolish clean air regulations for coal-fired power plants (doesn’t everyone want to breathe mercury?), frack everywhere in Pennsylvania (because I’ve already pointed out how awesome that is), and hand over federally protected lands for private investment (don’t worry, we would get to keep Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, which won’t be negatively impacted by climate change at all).
Still, it’s hard to believe that any well-educated, “forward-thinking” person running for our nation’s highest government office would have the balls to completely dismiss the major environmental issue of our time.
Stop pandering, accept the science, and move forward. (Please?)
My previous statement isn’t directed solely at Santorum. Romney and Gingrich are guilty too. As are other political and business leaders who refuse to accept the science of climate change accepted by those 97-98% of all climate scientists and national academies of sciences mentioned earlier. I don’t know about you, but I expect more of a leader – especially the leader of the free world.
It’s time to stop pandering to the base. It’s time for the Right to recognize the problems climate change poses and to join the rest of the world in formulating effective mitigation and adaptation strategies.
For more on climate change, check out my favorite interactive site.