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Dunsmore: Candidates and Climate Change

02/10/12 7:55AM By Barrie Dunsmore
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(Host) Tuesday was a big night for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum as he significantly won three states in the Republican presidential nomination sweepstakes. Today, commentator and retired ABC News diplomatic correspondent Barrie Dunsmore relates these victories to a important campaign issue.

(Dunsmore) 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.

“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 man-made is a quote “...hoax…an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who saw this as an opportunity to create panic and 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 Governor 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 a Vermont Statehouse committee don’t get much attention. But also this 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 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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