Monday, March 14, 2016

Climate Change Misinformation at the GOP's March 10 Primary Debate

The subject of climate change made a rare, albeit brief, appearance at the Republican presidential primary debate on Thursday March 10. The Florida debate comes just ahead of some important state primaries and caucuses that will be held next Tuesday. The two Republican presidential hopefuls who fielded questions on climate change misrepresented the facts.

Marco Rubio was asked: "Will you acknowledge the reality of the scientific consensus of climate change?" Although Rubio is a Senator from Florida, a state that will be one of the most severely impacted from rising seas associated with global warming, he refused to attribute climate change to human activities. Rubio embraced the fossil fuel industry's message and dismissed the science that shows reducing emissions will minimize the impacts of climate change. Rubio's broken logic in the debate went as follows:

"Sure the climate is changing...There’s never been a time when the climate has not changed...I think the fundamental question for a policymaker is, is the climate changing because of something we are doing, and if so, is there a law you can pass to fix it?...As far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there's no such thing."

Rubio then assailed the EPA's emissions reduction efforts actions Obama and he singled out the so called, “the war on coal”.

"There are laws they want to us pass that would be devastating for our economy or these programs like what the president has put in with the Clean Power Act or all these sorts of things that he's forcing down our throats on the war on coal...These laws that people are asking us to pass will do nothing for the environment and hurt the economy."

Rubio is wrong on both fronts, emissions reductions are good for the environment and the economy.

According to 2014 National Climate Assessment report, a 27 inch sea level rise could inundate agricultural areas around Miami-Dade County and southern Louisiana resulting in the loss of 37,500 acres in Florida.

As explained by both the EPA and the WRI, emissions reductions can benefit the economy.

In fact a cost benefit analysis reveals that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

The only remaining Republican candidate who accepts a fact based perspective on climate change is Ohio Governor John Kasich.

"I do believe we contribute to climate change, but I don't think it has to be a — you know, either you're for some environmental stringent rules or — you know, you're not going to have any jobs. The fact is, you can have both...You can have strong environmental policy at the same time as you have strong economic growth," Kasich said. However he went on to say, "We want to dig coal, but we want to clean it when we burn it. We believe in natural gas. We believe in nuclear power."

What Kasich fails to mention is the clean coal has been a dismal failure. It is more propaganda than a viable solution to burning hydrocarbons.

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