The Corner

Romney and Climate Change

In Pittsburgh yesterday, Mitt Romney told a questioner, “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

In an e-mail entitled “Romney Flips On Manmade Global Warming,” the Perry campaign seized on the comments. “Mitt Romney’s positions change, often dramatically, depending on the audience or location,” Perry communications director Ray Sullivan said in a statement. “Voters need to consider the fact that Romney, in one week, changed positions on manmade global warming, capping carbon emissions, and Ohio’s efforts to curb union powers.”

“This is ridiculous,” e-mails Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul. “Governor Romney’s view on climate change has not changed. He believes it’s occurring, and that human activity contributes to it, but he doesn’t know to what extent. He opposes cap and trade, and he refused to sign such a plan when he was governor. Maybe the bigger threat is all the hot air coming from career politicians who are desperate to hold on to power.”

ThinkProgress, the liberal website which first reported Romney’s comments, is characterizing them as a “flip.” “Romney reversed his earlier stance on climate change pollution and rejected man-made global warming,” the site wrote. But it’s not clear that Romney rejected human being partially causing climate change in his comment. He’s been careful in past statements to say that he believe human beings contribute somewhat to climate change, but does not know by how much, and believes there are other contributing causes. For instance, in Lebanon, N.H. in August, Romney said about climate change, “Do I think we contribute to it? I don’t know by how much. … So you said it’s all caused by humans or mostly caused by humans. I don’t know if it is or it’s not. And there is a divergence of opinion on that. Do I think humans contribute to it? Yes.”

In June, Romney made similar comments, saying, “I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. … I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that.”

So while Romney did not specifically mention that he believed humans are partially responsible for climate change in these comments, he has previously been careful to stress how little is known about what causes climate change and how he himself is uncertain over how much of it is caused by humans. It looks like it would have been more precise for him to have said “we don’t know fully what’s causing climate change …” and noted that he believes humans are playing some role, but this is not the first time Romney has stressed how little is known about what is causing climate change.

In reference to Romney’s remark that “spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us,” the Perry campaign highlighted the fact that Romney made Massachusetts the first state in 2005 to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. 

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

Most Popular


White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The White Ghetto

Editor's Note: In celebration of Kevin D. Williamson’s newest book, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics, National Review is republishing some of our favorites of his from the past ten years. This article originally appeared in the December 16, 2013, issue of National ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More