At New Haven Green Drinks this past Wednesday, the featured speaker was Sarah Ganong, Media Coordinator at the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who had the opportunity to attend the recent Paris climate talks. She reported on the ins and outs of her week at COP 21 and offered her perspective on the Paris agreement. She also posed and answered questions. My question to her was whether other countries had such a significant percentage of leaders who denied that climate change was real. Her response was a definitive NO. The United States is the only nation where the subject is even up for discussion.
I thought it might be interesting to look into what the primary candidates of both parties have to say on this subject. I expected it to be a bit of a project, but I discovered that the League of Women Voters had already done my work for me. Here is a compilation of presidential candidate quotes on climate change. It was last updated on January 15.
I have copied and pasted one quote from the list for each of the current contenders. They are grouped by party and are in alphabetical order by last name.
First, the Republicans:
Gov. Jeb Bush: In an October 2015 town hall in Bedford, New Hampshire, an audience member asked Gov. Bush if he did not believe that “human sources are responsible” for climate change. Gov. Bush responded, “No, I think the climate is changing; I think humans have some say in it, for sure. I honestly believe that, and I think there’s a proper role for the federal government to play in research and development, to find the next breakthrough in disruptive technologies. What I don’t want to do is destroy the American economy as the solution.” [American Bridge, 10/1/15]
Dr. Ben Carson: During a September 2015 campaign stop in Durham, New Hampshire, Dr. Carson was asked if he believed in climate change or evolution. “Is there climate change? Of course there is,” Carson said. “The temperature of the earth is always fluctuating…When that stops happening, we’re in big trouble,” he said. He also said he believes in microevolution or natural selection, and believed God gave organisms the ability to adapt to the environment, “because he is very smart,” he said. [Foster’s Daily Democrat, 9/30/15]
Gov. Chris Christie: During an August 2015 town hall in Salem, NH, Gov. Christie said, “I believe climate change is real, and I believe that humans contribute to it. But, we’re not the only things that contribute to it, and the climate’s been changing forever. In the entire history of the world, the climate’s changed all the time. Does that mean you shouldn’t try to make it better? No, of course we should. But I’m not going to make America noncompetitive in the process … There’s nobody, no matter what political party you’re in, who doesn’t want clean air and clean water.” [American Bridge, 150824_EMZ_68_A (1:33:00), 8/24/15 (video available from American Bridge)]
Sen. Ted Cruz: During a November 28, 2015 campaign stop in Creston, Iowa, Sen. Cruz was asked about climate change. He stated, “I think we should follow facts and science … I believe in science and data. When it comes to global warming, this is a debate that is almost entirely conducted free of actual science and data and evidence … If you are a liberal politician who believes in government power, climate change is the perfect pseudo-scientific theory … because whether it gets hotter or colder, wetter or drier, the theory is always proven right. The climate has changed from the dawn of time. What do we know? Tomorrow, the climate will change. I don’t know how it’ll change, but it will change. Amazingly, the same liberal politicians and scientists – their solution is massive government control of the economy, the energy sector, and every aspect of your lives. You start to think, if the solution is the same for whatever problem they’re talking about that given day, you start to think, gosh, maybe they just want more government power over our lives. I’ll mention to you, when it comes to facts and data – and by the way? Global warming, it’s not science, it’s a religion. Think of the language: deniers. That’s not the language of science. That’s the language of a heretic, a blaspheme. ‘You are a denier, I cast you in utter darkness.’ I want my scientists to be deniers of everything, and testing and questioning – that’s what a good scientist does … My view is that public policy should be based on the real science and data, not on politicians’ desires to control our lives.” [American Bridge, 151128_MJL_470_B (7:00), 11/28/15 (video available from American Bridge)]
Carly Fiorina: During a June 2015 Fox news interview, host Sean Hannity asked, “Do you think climate change is real?” Fiorina responded, “You know what I would say, you know what I would say, all of these scientists that tell us it's real and it's manmade, read the fine print of what those scientists say, because what they also say is a single nation acting alone will make no difference at all. So here we have a bunch of liberals and people in the EPA who are willing to sacrifice other people's lives, other people's livelihoods at the altar of their ideology, whether it's fish over families in California or destroying coal mining communities in Kentucky and West Virginia, and we're not making any difference. The answer to this is innovation. It's always innovation, never regulation.” [Fox News, 6/26/15]
Gov. Mike Huckabee: During a campaign event in Indianola, Iowa, Gov. Huckabee said, “It was global warming to global cooling. In the 70s it was global cooling. World is pretty adaptive. The earth is the lords and he gave us the resources. Science is settled in when life begins and we should work on.” [American Bridge, 160102_MJL_499_A (17:20) 1/2/16 (video available from American Bridge)]
Gov. John Kasich: “I do believe there’s climate change, and I think human beings impact it. But, I also don’t know to what degree we impact it. So, I’ll tell you [that] my philosophy is that we are here to take care of the environment, but not to worship the environment. Sometimes, I think we can find environmentalists who are extreme. I’ll tell you another thing: sometimes, we find them in a position where they complain no matter what we do, because they get to be able to raise money by saying how bad everything is.” [NHPR (34:00), 11/12/15]
Sen. Rand Paul: During a November 10, 2015 Fox Business Republican primary debate, Sen. Paul said, “While I do think man may have a role in our climate, I think nature also has a role. The planet’s 4.5 billion years old. We’ve been through geologic age through geologic age. We’ve had times when the temperature’s been warmer, we’ve had times when the temperature’s been colder, we’ve had times when the carbon in the atmosphere has been higher. We need to look before we leap.” [Fox Business, 11/10/15]
Sen. Marco Rubio: During an October 2015 town hall meeting, Sen. Rubio had the following exchange with a League of Conservation Voters Volunteer. The volunteer asked, “I was wondering why you voted against a bill, in the Senate, to recognize the reality of climate change.” Sen. Rubio replied, “That bill is nothing but a symbolic effort to say that people are against this because they deny science. It’s not that I deny science. I’m not going to support policies that would destroy our economy and do nothing to improve our environment. I’ve been repeatedly clear about that.” [American Bridge 21st Century YouTube Channel, 10/7/15]
Sen. Rick Santorum: In June 2011, Sen. Santorum said, “I believe the earth gets warmer and I also believe the earth gets cooler. And I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man, through the production of CO2 — which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas — is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all the other factors, El Niño, La Niña, sunspots, moisture in the air. There's a variety of factors that contribute to the Earth warming and cooling … To me, this is an opportunity for the left to create — it's really a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm. And so it's been on a warming trend so they said, ‘Oh, let's take advantage of that and say that we need the government to come in and regulate your life some more because it's getting warmer.’ Just like they did in the ’70s when it was getting cooler. They needed the government to come in and regulate your life because it's getting cooler. It’s just an excuse for more government control of your life. And I’ve never been for any scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative.” [Politico, 6/9/11]
Donald Trump: During a December 30, 2015 campaign rally in Hilton Head, SC, Trump said, “So Obama is talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it is a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money making industry, okay? It’s a hoax.” [News Universe, 12/30/15 (35:18)]
And from the Democrats:
Sec. Hillary Clinton: In January 2016, the NOAA released a report stating that 2015 was the second-warmest year on record, for the contiguous United States. In response, Sec. Clinton stated, “Climate change isn't some abstract future threat—it threatens our families and economy right now. We need to act.” [@NOAA Twitter, 1/7/16; @HillaryClinton Twitter, 1/7/16] Sec. Clinton: “Ambitious” 1/7/16)
Gov. Martin O’Malley: During the October 13, 2015 Democratic primary debate, Gov. O’Malley said, “We must square our shoulders to the great challenge of climate change and make this threat our opportunity. The future is what we make of it. We are all in this together. The question in this election is whether you and I still have the ability to give our kids a better future. I believe we do.” [CNN Debate, 10/13/15]
Sen. Bernie Sanders: In response to the Paris COP agreement, Sen. Sanders said, “While this is a step forward it goes nowhere near far enough. The planet is in crisis. We need bold action in the very near future and this does not provide that.” [National Journal, 12/12/15; Sen. Sanders Press Release, 12/12/15]
You can view the complete collection of quotes from the candidates on this issue here. For the League of Women Voters’ general guide on “How to Judge a Candidate” click here.