Archive for October 28th, 2011

Mitt Romney and Global Warming

October 28, 2011

It’s no secret that Mitt Romney is accused of being a flip-flopper. I honestly can’t understand why anyone would make the accusation on the issue of Global Warming.

Politico does a reasonable job at fairly portraying Romney’s position on Global Warming. I’m going to try and connect the statements and history into one whole.

This is a short summary of what I understand Romney’s statements to be.

  1. Mitt Romney is not a scientist, and so cannot make statements of scientific fact about Global Warming.
  2. Mitt Romney believes the earth is getting warmer.
  3. Mitt Romney believes that humans contribute to that, although he does not know how much or how little.
  4. Mitt Romney believes that changing human behavior can have an effect on the climate, although how much or how little is not known to him.
  5. Finally, Mitt Romney does not believe that justifies harming the economy in the name of Global Warming.

The conclusions I draw from that are:

  1. Mitt Romney will rely on experts, hopefully from both sides, to find the best solution to everyone’s problems.
  2. Mitt Romney will not ignore the economic impact of his decisions regarding Global Warming, and will, in fact, err, heavily, in the favor of the economy.

Now, let’s examine the statements and the facts.

First, when Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he had Massachusetts participate in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Initiative (RGGEI). Note, carefully, that Romney dropped Massachusetts out of the initiative when it was realized that there would be a massive economy cost and that there would be no opt-out. In fact, Mitt Romney ripped into his representative for the initiative because he failed to represent what was happening and failed to represent Romney’s views.

What do we learn? First, Romney is willing to work with coalitions some people would outright reject. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I say it is a good thing, because it means Romney will have a profound influence in those circles. This is one of the reasons why I strongly support Romney: He is an effective leader! Second,we learn that Romney values the economy more than the possible negative effects of Global Warming, and he values, especially strongly, the role of individual choice.

Now, on to his statements.

In No Apology:

“I believe that climate change is occurring — the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore,” he wrote. “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.”

No one accused him of flip-flopping when he wrote that.

In June 2011:

“I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that,” he said. “I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer.

“No. 2, I believe that humans contribute to that,” Romney continued. “I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know there’s been periods of greater heat and warmth than in the past, but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you’re seeing.”

Is there a flip-flop here? No. This is exactly the same position he had when he signed Massachusetts on to RGGEI, and the same position he had when he took Massachusetts out of RGGEI.

Those people who claim Romney flip-flopped when he issued the June statement have no grounds for their claim.

In August 2011:

“Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that, but I think that it is,” Romney said in New Hampshire, according to Reuters. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”

No one accused him of flip-flopping between June and August.

Thursday 10/27/2011:

“My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” the GOP presidential front-runner said Thursday during a fundraiser in Pittsburgh. “And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

Again, no flip-flop, although some, like Climate Depot, claim there is.

If anything, Romney’s position on Global Warming is entirely reasonable. Romney is not a trained scientist. He doesn’t know physics like I do, or weather or anything like that. And he can’t be expected to.

He is deferring his knowledge to others. He doesn’t adopt the Gore ideas wholesale, and in fact, he takes a rather middle-of-the-road view of the issue, where he doesn’t have to reject the claims of either side wholesale. I honestly can’t expect more from any layperson, although I would still try to convince them that the Greenhouse Effect is a lie and that we can’t measure whether temperatures are rising or falling at all.

He is putting the economy, and freedom, ahead of science that is certainly not settled. This is the most important attribute I want in my leaders. Heck, even if you believed Al Gore, as long as you believe individual choice and freedom is still more important than the environment, I would support you.

Finally, he knows that he does not know. If he had to, he could investigate and come to a more complete answer. He tells you, with his statements, that he doesn’t know. He is not shy about that. This is humility, a very important attribute in any leader.