Why The Republican Party Is So Out Of Touch With Reality On Climate Change

By Nicholas Olivera

In mid-December, leaders from 195 countries came to an historic agreement in Paris about how to address the global crisis of climate change. The agreement was heralded as a pathbreaking moment for both international diplomacy and the scientific consensus concerning climate change.

Back home in America however, things felt a bit differently, as they often do.

A week after the historic agreement, President Barack Obama mocked Republicans for their continued failure to recognize climate change as a real issue.

“The American Republican party is the only major party that I can think of in the advanced world that effectively denies climate change,” Obama said according to the Guardian.

According to a recent Pew survey, only 27% of Republicans believe that global warming is mostly an issue caused mostly by human activity.

Only a couple of the Republican presidential candidates have expressed the belief that global climate change is a man-made threat.

Former governor of New York George Pataki has openly acknowledged his stance on climate, saying during October’s GOP debate: “It is not appropriate to think that human activity — putting CO2 into the atmosphere –doesn’t make the Earth warmer. All things being equal, it does. It is uncontroverted.”

Pataki has spent some time working towards a cleaner environment, having served as co-chair of the Independent Task Force on Global Climate Change, an independent commission dedicated to preventing climate change.

The group even issued a report back in June of 2008 making market-friendly recommendations in order to cut carbon emissions 60 to 80 percent by the year 2050.

And while Pataki is a staunch believer in climate change there’s no mention of it on his campaign website.

Why would a candidate with so much passion for the issue of climate change leave it out of their campaign?

“The fact that it isn’t being talked about very much by the rest of the candidates doesn’t surprise me,” Dr. David Woodard, a professor of political science at Clemson University and former consultant of Republican candidates told RISE NEWS. “I have found that other candidates have gotten a lot more mileage by bringing up the terrorist issues.”

Six of the remaining dozen candidates have dismissed the issue entirely.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum has said in the past that he believes that climate change is nothing more than an excuse for “more government control of your life.”

Texas senator Ted Cruz asserts that climate change was simply concocted by “power-greedy politicians.”

And of course Donald Trump has made his beliefs concerning the issue known in a rather vulgar way.

The remaining candidates are caught somewhere in the middle; each of them have publicly expressed a mixture of doubt, hesitancy, and skepticism in regards to climate change.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie has acknowledged the existence of global climate change but argues that the degree to which human activity contributes to it is up for debate.

Former governor of Virginia Jim Gilmore (yes, he is still running) claims to need more proof as to whether or not it is a man-made issue. Even former governor of Florida Jeb Bush has expressed his skepticism.

But chances are this is an issue that won’t pick up traction within the GOP nomination contest this year.

“I don’t think it’s an important issue this year given the events in California along with other terrorist attacks,” Woodard said. “The other candidates are going with the more hot-button issues where they get the most press attention and conflict with their peers.”

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Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Geological Survey/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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