Pawlenty and Gingrich on Global Warming

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 22 2011 4:09 PM

Pawlenty and Gingrich on Global Warming

I'll be on MSNBC in the 6 o'clock hour talking Republican politics, and talking specifically about the shifting global warming positions of some 2012ers. It's been a rapid shift, similar to the shift that's taken support for rail from "thing everybody agrees on" to "radical Communist plot with some sharia sprinkled in."

Grist has a good summary of how Tim Pawlenty's position has changed from 2007 to now, and 2007 is a good time to start -- it was the year of Al Gore's Oscar, of Republican presidential candidates basically agreeing that the search for independence necessitated cleaner, cheaper fuel. In 2007, announcing a climate change commission:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


Ourglobal climate is warming, at least in part due to the energysources we use. We cannot solve it by ourselves, but we need tolead and do our part. We also need to push for an effectivenational and international effort.

In 2010:

The climate's obviously changing, but the real question and the more interesting question is how much of that is manmade, how much of that is the result of natural causes and patterns? And, of course, we've seen a lot of data manipulation and a lot of controversy or at least debate within the scientific community.

"Climategate," which a lot of liberals dismissed at the time, was the pivot point for a lot of Republicans changing their stances on this. Here was Newt Gingrich in 2008:



But that's famous. Less famous: His chat with Slate readers about climate change. His answer to a question from someone who'd stopped believing in global warming:

I am well aware we have had much higher carbon levels (pre-historic time periods, probably caused by volcanoes) and much higher temperatures in the past. In addition, around 11,000 years ago, the Gulf Stream stopped for 600 years for reasons we don't understand. Europe went into an ice age. Then the Gulf Stream restarted for reasons we don't understand and the ice age disappeared.

So a great deal of the "current science" is in fact politics.

However, the word "conservative" includes "conservation" as its root. And conservatives should be cautious. 

Gingrich, like every leading Republican candidate, has moved from the position that man causes climate change to the position that climate change is occurring. They're following the Republican base, inside of which the belief in man-made climate change is collapsing. But they have to start debating all this in front of a national electorate, which, according to Gallup , is once again solidly of the belief that climate change is man-made.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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