by Judith Curry
So, which of the U.S. Presidential candidates are ‘flunking’ climate science?
Well, of course, it depends on who is doing the grading.
Seth Borenstein (AP) has an article AP FACT CHECK: Most GOP candidates flunk climate science. The graders are Michael Mann, Andrew Dessler, James Elsner, James McCarthy, Louisa Bradtmiller, Emanuel Vincent, William Easterling and Matthew Huber.
The summary report card:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had the highest average score at 94. Below Clinton’s 94 were O’Malley with 91; Sanders, 87; Bush, 64; Christie, 54; Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 47; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 38; Fiorina, 28; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 21; businessman Donald Trump, 15; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 13; and Cruz with 6.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with an 87, had the lowest score among the Democrats, dinged for an exaggeration when he said global warming could make Earth uninhabitable. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush scored the highest among Republicans, 64, but one grader gave him a perfect 100. Bush was the only Republican candidate who got a passing grade on climate in the exercise.
JoNova interprets this grading quite differently:
Ted Cruz is clearly the best at holding his own in the independent thinker stakes. Ben Carson and Donald Trump do well. But poor Hillary Clinton doesn’t stand a chance against the onslaught of junk graphs, hyperbolic claims, and inane bumper-sticker cliches.
JC’s collection of quotes
I’m not exactly sure what information the ‘graders’ used to evaluate the candidates. Below is my collection of quotes on climate science for each of the candidates:
Hillary Clinton: climate change is “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world.”
Bernie Sanders: “Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.”
Jeb Bush: “I don’t think the science is clear on what % is man-made and what % is natural. It’s convoluted. For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant. The climate is changing. We need to adapt to that reality.”
Ben Carson: “there’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on” and called the climate debate “irrelevant.” The physician said it is a distraction from discussions about generally protecting the environment and about the role of the Environmental Protection Agency in regulation.
Chris Christie: “I think global warming is real. I don’t think that’s deniable. And I do think human activity contributes to it.” Christie added though that it’s not certain how much humans are to blame for global warming.
Ted Cruz: “Specifically, satellite data demonstrate there has been no warming over the past 17 years. And I would note whenever anyone makes that point, you immediately get vilified as a ‘denier’ without anyone actually refuting the facts.”
Mike Huckabee: “Go back and look at the covers of Time and Newsweek from the early ’70s. And we were told that if we didn’t do something by 1980, we’d be popsicles. Now we’re told that we’re all burning up. Science is not as settled on that as it is on some things.”
Carly Fiorina: “The only answer to this is innovation, and in that America could be the best in the world.”
John Kasich: “I am just saying that I am concerned about it, but I am not laying awake at night worrying the sky is falling.”
Rand Paul: Man might well have an influence on it, the unknown question is how much is man and how much is nature, this is a question I love to ask to the apocalyptic crowd, the alarmists. They seem to think it is like 99.99% man, and nothing nature, they don’t even acknowledge the natural climate.
Rick Santorum: “I for one never bought the hoax. To suggest that man’s contribution is the determining ingredient in the sauce that affects the entire global warming and cooling is just absurd on its face.”
Donald Trump: “I believe in clean air. Immaculate air. But I don’t believe in climate change. “
The AP ‘graders’ gave their game away when they didn’t give Sanders a really low score.
At the bottom (lowest grades), I place Sanders, Santorum, and Trump. Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee don’t seem to have dug into the issue much, and rank only slightly better. Hillary Clinton seems to be a clone of Obama on this issue; see my Ocala presentation (previous post) for what is wrong with Obama’s perspective on climate change.
The other Republican candidates have perfectly reasonable perspectives and positions on the climate change issue. Previous Climate Etc. posts have discussed
The only Presidential candidate that I have met is Jeb Bush, and I met with him for an hour in 2006 to discuss hurricanes and global warming. This was during my ‘alarmed’ period, and I may have contributed to his ‘passing’ grade from Mann et al.
I have recently been contacted by one of Ted Cruz’s staffers (Cruz chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness). The impression I have of Cruz is that he is very interested in this issue and is particularly interested in the data.
Unlike previous Presidential elections, it looks like climate change will be a serious issue that candidates are expected to take a position on. There was one Democratic candidate – Jim Webb – who had a reasonable position on climate change, but he dropped out (possibly for an independent run). The Republican candidates do need a better platform on this issue – one that doesn’t dismiss the issue, but re-opens the space for debate on both the science and the policy options.