Republican Presidential Candidates vs. Climate Science
Posted on 24 August 2011 by dana1981
We've previously documented the general anti-climate science stance of Republican politicians in the USA. With the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination already beginning to heat up, we thought it would be a good time to examine how the various candidates' comments stack up against the body of climate science evidence. The candidates below are listed in order based on a very rough estimate of their chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination (highest probability candidates are listed first).
Rick Perry is the governor of Texas, former Lieutenant Governor under George W. Bush, and even more anti-climate science than his former boss. Recently, Perry has been questioning the climate science consensus, and claiming that climate scientists are falsifying data in order to receive research funding. This sort of conspiratorial mindset is perhaps as anti-climate science as possible.
Mitt Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts, and one of the few Republican presidential candiates who doesn't deny basic climate science.
In June 2011, Romney said:
"I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that...It's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors."
These aren't the most Earth-shattering comments, but a simple refusal to deny basic climate science has become a rarity in Republican politics.
Michelle Bachmann is a congresswoman from Minnesota, and founder and chair of the Tea Party Caucus in the US House of Representatives. Bachmann's climate arguments generally tend to center around the claims that carbon and climate change are natural, and therefore nothing to worry about. In short, a straight-up denial that humans could possibly be causing significant climate change.
Ron Paul is a congressman from Texas. Although he's a registered Republican, his political philosophy is more Libertarian, and thus many pundits don't consider him a "top tier candidate" with a serious chance to win the Republican presidential nomination. Paul has become increasingly anti-climate science in recent years, going as far as to call it "the greatest hoax...for many, many years if not hundreds of years." Paul believes the government can do nothing right, and thus opposes most proposed climate solutions (such as carbon pricing), which may cloud his perception of climate science.
Sarah Palin is the former governor of Alaska. She has not yet entered the 2012 presidential race, but may very well eventually throw her hat in the ring. Palin has long denied many aspects of climate science, from the man-made global warming consensus, to the existence of man-made global warming itself, to the endangerment of polar bears as a result of climate change.
Newt Gingrich is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and congressman from Georgia. Gingrich is guilty of the biggest flip-flop on climate science amongst these candidates. In 2008, he appeared in an ad with then-Democratic Speaker of the House Nanci Pelosi in which he said:
"our country must take action to address climate change"
Those were the days. Since then, Gingrich's positions on climate science and solutions have changed dramatically. Recently, Gingrich has not only denied that humans are causing global warming, but has gone as far as expressing "skepticism" that the planet is even warming to begin with.
Jon Huntsman is the former Governor of Utah and US embassador to China. He is one of the few Republican presidential candidates to express confidence in climate science research.
In response to an interview in which Rick Perry expressed his climate "skepticism", Huntsman tweeted:
"To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."
"I think there's a serious problem. The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party - the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012. When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science - Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position"
However, Huntsman's chances of winning the presidential nomination are considered slim.
Herman Cain is a businessman from Georgia. He had a brief surge in popularity in the Republican presidential race, but it didn't last very long. Similar to Perry, Cain claims that humans aren't causing global warming, and accuses climate scientists of falsifying data.
Rick Santorum is a former Senator from Pennsylvania who has been very consistent in his denial of basic climate science.
An Anti-Science Group
With the exception of Mitt Romney, John Huntsman's warning to his fellow candidates not to become the anti-science party seems to be falling on deaf ears. Most Republican presidential candidates deny the basic science about the warming of the planet and/or accuse climate scientists of falsifying data. Unfortunately, denial of basic climate science appears to have become a "litmus test" for any candidate trying to win a Republican political nomination.
UCS Climate Science References
In response to the general Republican climate science denial, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has assembled a number of references to recent climate assessments and statements from scientific societies. They also referenced Skeptical Science as a useful resource to debunk climate myths.