What do the presidential candidates say about climate change?

Maggie Koerth-Baker joins Tom Weber at 11:20 to discuss global warming and Sandy.

Obama and Romney haven’t talked about climate change recently. The topic didn’t arise once during the debates. Yesterday on the show, George Condon of the National Journal said, ‘”If there is one issue that you can’t get the President to talk about on the stump, it’s global warming.” He adds that Romney runs from global warming talk, too.

So do the candidates believe humans are responsible for climate change?

ProCon.org goes back in time to suss out their views.

This is from Romney’s 2010 book No Apology:

“I believe that climate change is occurring – the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control… Internationally, we should work to limit the increase in emissions in global greenhouse gases, but in doing so we shouldn’t put ourselves in a disadvantageous position that penalizes American jobs and economic growth.”

This is text from Obama’s 2008 election website:

“Global warming is real, is happening now and is the result of human activities. The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years. Glaciers are melting faster; the polar ice caps are shrinking; trees are blooming earlier; oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening marine life; people are dying in heat waves; species are migrating, and eventually many will become extinct. Scientists predict that absent major [green house gas] emission reductions, climate change will worsen famine and drought in some of the poorest places in the world and wreak havoc across the globe..”

When you rank the issues that will affect your vote next Tuesday, how high on the list is climate change?

-Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Loren Stark

    In “Insurance Companies Already Feeling Sandy’s Effects”

    Audie Cornish talks to Ben Berkowitz, deputy companies editor for Reuters:

    CORNISH: So at this point, are insurers essentially recalibrating their models because of what they believe about climate change, is that affecting our premiums?

    BERKOWITZ: Insurers are absolutely taking a fresh look at how they structure and how they price policies, particularly the ones that really embraced the climate change theories. They fully believe that something is changing and that they have to, for the sake of their business models, look at how they price and allocate risk differently.

  • GregX

    Corporate institutions are embedding the cost of climate change in their prices to their customer-consumer, often without ever acknowledging that driving factor in their business analytics. I think that broader political or business goals cause issues to be associated that really have no common functional cause-effect link other than the supporter or its money.

  • James

    1) For recent statements on climate change by the two presidential candidates, see responses to ‘Scientific American’ questions.

    2) I believe climate change is the biggest long-term threat to the environment, the economy, and national security, not only for the U.S., but for all countries. Yes, candidates’ views on climate change are a major consideration in my evaluation of candidates for public office. We should have started dealing with climate change decades ago.

    3) We cannot use any single storm as proof of climate change. It could be that Sandy would not have happened without climate change. It could be that Sandy would have occurred without climate change, but climate change made it worse. It could be that Sandy would have occurred without climate change but climate change mitigated it. (My guess is the middle one, but that is only a guess.)

    For evidence of climate change, we need statistical analysis. Are storms more or less frequent? Are they more or less severe? Are they occurring in different places? Are there other changes in storm patterns? Are some areas more prone to getting rain? Are some ares more prone to drought? Are deserts and areas prone to drought expanding? If these things occur, what is the contribution from climate change and what from other causes?

  • jim

    the real question is how do we produce the horsepower, kilowatts and btu’s we demand without burning fossil fuels. no good answer. all these other questions are a waste of time.

  • Thanks for bringing this up today. I appreciate it, and am very glad that this is becoming a part of the conversation.

    So I rank climate change as # 1 – in terms of my voting and issues that I care about. The reason is that Climate change trumps (no pun intended) everything else.

    # 2 – is economic inequity – and how the folks with the money – use their financial resources to tilt the field more and more in their favor. We need to really address this – so that we all can grow, and have a much stronger economy.

  • James

    P.S. Instead of doing nothing about climate change because we think the suggested international protocol favors China and India, we should have taken leadership in trying to reduce climate change causing human activities.

  • Shawn

    Climate change is the number one issue I vote on. It is the single issue that effects all other issues from energy to food supply to national security to humanitarian issues.

  • JAY

    A candidate’s opinion on climate change makes a big difference in how I vote as it is part of the package of world view. Whether or not one accepts the idea that human behavior contributes to global warming, it is wiser to accept the imperative that we need to move away from fossil fuel use for reasons such as pollution, long-range finances, global political power, and self-sustaining innovation.

  • Bonnie Blodgett

    Maggie of Boing Boing probably doesn’t believe fully to the marrow of her journalistic bone in evolution or the theory of relativity either. The point is, given what we KNOW, what should we DO? STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS. Next question: how should we do that? Levy a gas tax, fund green technologies, enact carbon trade and stop enabling the do-nothing deniers by giving air time to people like Maggie who are inexplicably “on the fence.” I’m old enough to remember when -40 zero winter days were routine. Maggie obviously is not.

  • Stephanie

    Milt – You’re everywhere today!

  • Kathy

    Climate change/the environment have now become my top concern because of its huge impact on our world and its people. Because nothing has been said by our presidential candidates, and because I am having difficulty supporting either Romney or Obama (I have long leaned Democrat but feel that Democrats have become intolerant and dogmatic.), I may vote Green Party.

  • Jefferson

    Why do we never discuss the ice age cycles? We are due for an ice age very soon and if this additional CO2 can delay or prevent the next ice age then it is a very good thing. If you look at the consequences of of an ice age vs the consequences of global warming then you would see that being covered by ice and not able to grow crops is much more harmful than a slight increase in sea levels (short term). Why does the ice age issue not come into play when discussing global warming? Isn’t an ice age much worse than the warming? BTW, the warming will not continue forever since we will eventually run out of fossil fuels.

  • Leo

    Climate change isn’t the issue. It’s the consequence. The issue is the powerful interests that present counter view points to preserve power and wealth making it more difficult to develop a ratioal strategy.

  • Jay Berken

    I believe that climate change is tied with my number one issue. The other issue just as important is energy. If we as a society can not figure out alternative energy to coal/oil, we will not deal with climate change…unfortunately.

  • Molly

    Thank goodness we are talking about climate change again. It’s sad it took hurricane Sandy for this to happen. Climate change has become a number one issue for me. I used to lean conservative in my voting, but because the republican party has such a poor voting record on climate change and other environmental issues, I always vote democratic now.

  • Ryan Birkman

    I am a bit frustrated with questions like the one we just heard on The Circuit, like “what is your #1 issue this election”. This old compartmentalized way of thinking, just like working off of sound bytes, just is not how we can solve these problems. We need to start understanding that health, the economy, and infrastructure are completely dependent on how we deal with climate change. Education and public investments are the only way we can figure out a way to save industrialized society by creating new energy sources that won’t put us in danger of distinction. They are all wrapped into one mega issue.

    So if somebody who asked me what my number one issue is, I would laugh and say “all of the above is the number one issue!”

  • James

    I used to be a moderate but favoring the Republicans. However, when the Republicans killed the “carbon tax” legislation, that pushed me more to the left.

  • GregX

    INcreasing efficiency is the easiest, longest lasting, most immediately addressable solution. Use less, need less – on a per capita basis.

  • Kevin

    What I don’t get about this issue is the fossil fuel companies’ resistance to new technology. They have the capital to invest in the technology that they know will one day need to replace this finite resource. Why wouldn’t they get a jump on this now? They will own the technology of tomorrow and will continue to make lots of money. It’s a win-win!

  • Stephanie Curtis


    Maggie approves of your view. She said, “I like that guy.”

  • Jeff

    Hydroelectric is not the way to go, just ask Oregon and the Pacific NW. They’re tearing down dams. They destroy ecosystems, we can solve one problem by creating another. We need to use wind, solar, hydrogen fuel cell. and wave (ocean currents, Google Oregon State wave lab/energy).

  • It was inevitable that it would take a climate disaster like Sandy to bring attention to this issue. No, climate change may not have “caused” Sandy … but it made Sandy more probable.

    Unfortunately, Sandy will not finally get us to confront our fossil fuel addiction. It will be one of many such events that will cause us to wake up.

    Other countries have already begun to face the challenge. For example, Sweden no longer uses fossil fuels to provide heat and electricity, and plans to be entirely fossil fuel free by 2030 — all while creating greater GDP growth than that in the U.S.

    Americans need to realize: We either pay now by planning for the future, or pay now AND pay later to deal with the effects of climate change.

    Politicians who pander to the climate change denial mantra are nothing less than traitors to future generations.

  • James

    Those of us who answer that climate change is the number one issue are largely a self-selected group. Those who rank other issues higher are largely not participating in this discussion. Compare the responses on this blog to an older one that asked listeners what their top issue was. (I”m not sure when that was, maybe in September.)

  • Jim Hedlund

    Every tme I hear our leaders say we a solution to our energy needs, I feel its the oil industry speaking through there bought off cronies We have had a solution for the last 20 years. Please see “Prescription for the planet” by Tom Blees. Can be downloaded off of the net-(pdf. file) Nuclear fast indrigile reactors which can be run off of the already spent uranium from light water reactors. This fuel still has 90% of its potential still left in it, and when spent, its vertually imposible to make it into a nuclear war head, and has a half life a fraction of its current half life. Also consider cars powered by BORON. A metal mined from the earth or sea water, which when ignited in an oxygen rich atmosphere has three times the potential of gasoline, is emision free and totally renewable. no wonder, when this was descovered, the energy reseach project was shut down and the reseachers were told not to tell others of there findings! Please pick up this book. The solution exists now. Our government is just being controlled by big oil. What kind of world will be left for our grandchildren?