Dunsmore: Climate change and the GOP

Editor’s note: This op-ed by retired ABC News diplomatic correspondent Barrie Dunsmore first aired on Vermont Public Radio.

As a consequence of Rick Santorum’s wins, he got much more air time on the cable news channels than he normally receives. So many viewers got a chance to hear what the former senator really feels about global warming. These are a few of his opinions, offered Monday to the Colorado Energy Summit.

Quote: “We were put on this earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the earth, to use it wisely but for our benefit, not the earth’s benefit. We are intelligent beings … we should not let the vagaries of nature destroy what we have helped to create.”

Santorum said the claim that climate change is manmade is a “hoax … an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who saw this as an opportunity to create panic and a crisis — for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life.”

Santorum went on, “I for one understand from science that there are a hundred factors that influence the climate. To suggest that one minor factor — of which man’s contribution is a minor factor of a minor factor — is the determining ingredient in the sauce that affects the entire global warming and cooling, is just absurd on its face.”

In the past, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich conceded climate change may be real. But in seeking the Republican presidential nomination this year, each has disavowed his previous positions. Gingrich went so far as to say his appearance in a TV ad with former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that addressed climate change, was “The dumbest single thing I’ve done in five or six years.”

President Barack Obama is not a climate change denier. His decision to delay approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas was an apparent concession to environmentalists. He has promoted clean energy alternatives and significantly increased mileage efficiency in cars and trucks of the future. But as nearly all Republicans and more than a few Democrats in Congress remain skeptical about global warming, Obama has clearly opted not to force the issue.

You may have missed this, because hearings of Vermont Statehouse committees don’t get much attention. But also last week a House panel heard from Bill McKibben, author of one of the first major books on climate change and a recognized world expert on global warming. With memories of Tropical Storm Irene’s torrential floods still fresh on our minds, McKibben said Irene was “precisely what climatologists have been telling us what to expect.” He explained that a basically normal storm moving up the East Coast encountered record sea surface temperatures, causing it to soak up enormous quantities of moisture, much of which it then dropped on Vermont with devastating consequences.

A final thought. McKibben indicated that these ever-more frequent catastrophic weather events now occurring throughout the globe far exceed the dire climate change predictions he and others made 20 years ago.

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26 Comments on "Dunsmore: Climate change and the GOP"

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Bill copeland
4 years 2 months ago

Because most americans are smart, Obama will win. But it will be close.

Ken Forest
4 years 2 months ago

What Rick Santorum has not said that he believes, is the following: 98% of climate scientists are wrong on climate change; all of the leading world’s Academies of Science are wrong on climate change, fossil fuel corporations’ paramount aim is to ensure human well-being over and above their own well-being or profits; the earth is not warming; man has total influence over nature and can control all of it including climate; placing trillions of tons of carbon per year into our common atmosphere has no climactic effect; humans do not need to bother with science, God will take care of… Read more »

Doug Brockman
4 years 2 months ago

Hurrah for Santorum.

It will be refreshing to live without a dictator breathing down our necks again.

Meantime the climate hysterics can go back into overdrive trying to find out what happened to the nonexistent Himalayan glacial ice loss.

rogelio Diaz
4 years 2 months ago

Not smart.. current temperatures are cooler than normal and have been flat/not changed significantly for the past 30 years.
From NASA satellites

Please explain “global warming”

4 years 2 months ago

Global warming and climate change explained (in part):

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/index.php (this links to a whole slew of NASA satellite data presented visually)

Jack Poynter
4 years 2 months ago

Re: McKibben – I’m 66, with all the living through weather weirdities that implies. Mr. McKibben would do better to restrict his speeches to the young and gullible; those of us who are older know better. Obama is going to lose, not only because of his position on Anthropogenic Global Warming, but because he is out of step with the American Mainstream, as the fact that he didn’t foresee the recent firestorm on his contraception initiative in regard to the Catholic Church. No matter which side one is on in that debate, to not foresee what would happen with the… Read more »

4 years 1 month ago

I’m about to turn 61, and I’ve been through a bit of weather as well, along with 12 presidencies. Global warming is real, and we’re the main cause. Pro-lifers are out-numbered by the Mainstream by a significant margin, although what matters is the margin by which they turn out at the polls. Obama’s stance on contraception is very much mainstream, including among Catholics – http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/03/01/poll-most-americans-like-obamas-contraception-rule/ And one only has to look at the firestorm against the R’s and their main mouthpiece, Rush “Mr. Viagra” Limbaugh, in the wake of that announcement to see where most Americans stand. http://scaypgrayce.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/women-apparently-dont-like-having-men-try-to-dictate-their-sex-lives/ Note, in… Read more »

4 years 2 months ago

Who needs science when we have today’s Republican Party?

Paul Bilodeau
4 years 2 months ago

Of course we are to believe all the Leftist scientists who profit from the grants they know they will get from the Leftist government politicians and bureaucrats , are pure as the wind driven snow. They have no environmentalist agenda to advance and would never try to suppress opposing views or studies. When the actual outcomes don’t support their supposed science, they just change the crisis, which of course demands immediate attention: it’s Global Cooling, no, wait, it’s Global Warming, no, that’s not it either, it’s Climate Change! Yea, that’s it, Climate Change. That will cover anything we care to… Read more »

Alex Barnham
4 years 2 months ago

We’re so smart…that’s why we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the entire earth. That’s why we believe our government agencies when they say we are safe.

John Hartz
4 years 2 months ago

Certain bloggers on this comment thread would have us believe that the Earth’s climate is not changing and, even if it is, it’s all due to natural causes. The disappearing Arctic sea ice did not get the memo. The melting Greenland ice sheet did not get the memo. Melting alpine glaciers did not get the memo. The warming and expanding troposphere did not get the memo. The cooling and shrinking stratosphere did not get the memo. The melting permafrost in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia did not get the memo. The northward migrating pine bark beetles in North America did not… Read more »

Lance Hagen
4 years 2 months ago

John, your list may well be happening, but you fail to connect these event as being caused by man’s action versus nature

Lance Hagen
4 years 2 months ago

It should be noted that there is no empirical data that shows any correlation between ‘extreme weather events’ and ‘climate change’. So claims that “these ever-more frequent catastrophic weather events now occurring throughout the globe far exceed the dire climate change predictions he and others made 20 years ago” are not supported by real data. Mr. McKibben’s dire predictions are based on climate model ‘output’. And such output is not real data. A model is only as good as its ability to predict ‘end results’ and ‘behavior’ and the existing climate model have been a dismal failure in both these… Read more »

John Hartz
4 years 2 months ago

Last August, Hurricane Irene spun through the Caribbean and parts of the eastern United States, leaving widespread wreckage in its wake. The Category 3 storm whipped up water levels, generating storm surges that swept over seawalls and flooded seaside and inland communities. Many hurricane analysts suggested, based on the wide extent of flooding, that Irene was a “100-year event”: a storm that only comes around once in a century. However, researchers from MIT and Princeton University have found that with climate change, such storms could make landfall far more frequently, causing powerful, devastating storm surges every three to 20 years.… Read more »

Ken Forest
4 years 2 months ago

How about Rick Santorum for president. What a world it would be. Drill baby drill. Explode the population. Assume we can put trillions of tons of carbon into our common atmosphere with impunity. If we have a problem, we can always buy our way out. Money fixes everything. The good times will never end, no matter how much we exhaust our resources because they are God-given & limitless (healthy soil, potable water, clean air wildlife, species variety, ecosystems); wait, we don’t need wildlife or ecosystems for anything. If we are wrong and the planet cannot support more than a tenth… Read more »

Karl Riemer
4 years 2 months ago

We’re in big trouble. The strength of democracy lies in the collective wisdom of thoughtful citizens. Somehow, despite free universal public education and incredibly sophisticated access to vast amounts of information, we seem to be getting collectively daily stupider. Arguing with someone who refuses to face facts is hard enough; now we’re seeing a growing conviction that facts are subject to opinion, that strong conviction trumps fact. The evidence, quantifiable and consistent, of anthropogenic global climate variation is overwhelming. It isn’t subjective, it isn’t vague, it isn’t anecdotal. It’s data, measurements, records: a Niagra of indisputable facts. The details of… Read more »

Lance Hagen
4 years 2 months ago

Yes Karl, we are in trouble when we have people making the following statements; “The evidence, quantifiable and consistent, of anthropogenic global climate variation is overwhelming. It isn’t subjective, it isn’t vague, it isn’t anecdotal. It’s data, measurements, records: a Niagra of indisputable facts” It seems that you have a hard time distinguishing between global temperature rising and the primary cause for this rise. To you temperature changes and anthropogenic actions, being the cause, are one and the same; no differences. And though temperature data is ‘measured data’, the reality is, the source that anthropogenic activity is the prime cause… Read more »

4 years 2 months ago

So perhaps Lance will tell us where all this carbon is going to?

We know carbon is a “greenhouse gas”. We know when we burn fossil fuels we release lots and lots of carbon.

So what happens with all that carbon that, according to Lance, is not helping to “greenhouse” our planet?

Lance Hagen
4 years 2 months ago

Rama, the real question is not whether CO2 is ‘greenhousing’ our planet, because it does have an influence. The real question is the magnitude of this influence. Keep in mind, that doubling of CO2, by itself, will only raise the global temperature by ~1 degree C. The existing climate models are predicting a 4 to 5 degree C temperature rise. That is because the models assume some very strong positive feedback mechanism. It’s with these assumptions on feedback mechanisms that the science and corresponding climate models are extremely weak. So it may be very possible the influence anthropogenic activity is… Read more »

4 years 2 months ago

Lance, it has a lot to do with what is happening with the CO2 you admit is a greenhouse gas because plain physics will tell you how much heat that gas will trap.

As to the positive feedbacks: what do you think is happening to the methane (an even more potent greenhouse gas) that was frozen in the sub-arctic/artic tundra?

There is nothing magical going on here – just plain old physics.

Lance Hagen
4 years 2 months ago

Rama, it is pointless to keep discussing this, since I realize to you this is a religion. You have this unquestionable devotion and any objective views, on the failure of the ‘climate models’, are not tolerated.

Ken Forest
4 years 2 months ago

Karl: well said. But the Santorums, bonded to big oil money, are controlling the scientifically illiterate on a not so level playing field.

Roger Hill
4 years 2 months ago

Honestly Folks — We need every one of you to help solve what is/never left the problem that will affect you, your children, your grand children and will be with you for your rest of your lives. It is massive input of Carbon Dioxide causing an accelerating warming trend. Natural variation on top of that is just minor noise. Nothing any politco can say do fart, will change it. Skeptics look extremely foolish to many now, but in the future you will just look “extreme” forget foolish. The science is as solid as gravity. Somehow ignoring it or wishing it… Read more »

4 years 2 months ago

Attention all arm chair climatologists – here’s what the real institutions worldwide say– Here’s a list of scientific institutional bodies with official statements in support of affirming human caused global climate change: Academy of sciences of Malaysia, Academy of science South Africa, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Astronomical Society, American chemical society, American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Physics, American Meteorology Society, American Physical Society, American Quaternary Association, Australian Academy of Science, Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, Brazilian Academy of Science, Canadian federation of Earth Sciences, Canadian Foundation for climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic… Read more »

Mike Kerin
4 years 2 months ago

It’s hard for me to believe there are so many deniers of science. Don’t you folks care about the type of environment you are leaving to you kids and grand kids? I do!
That is why I put in my solar array and traded my F150 for a hybrid (42 MPG). Trying to do my part .

Avram Patt
4 years 1 month ago

Thank you neighbor and weatherman Roger Hill for sparing me from the chore of again digging up and again listing all of the thoroughly vetted scientific bodies that have figured this out.

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