GOP U.S. House Candidates Skeptical Of Climate Change Science

08/13/10 7:35AM By Ross Sneyd
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AP Photo/Francois Mori

(Host) The three Republicans running for the U.S. House all have doubts about the role that human activity has played in global climate change.

But, as VPR's Ross Sneyd reports, they also say it's time for some changes to current energy policy.

(Sneyd) The three men who want to represent their party in the race against incumbent Congressman Peter Welch are skeptical about climate change science.

Businessman John Mitchell says it's egocentric to think that humans can change the planet.

(Mitchell1) "As a famous economist once said, ‘Man has no greater conceit than to think he can change the world around him.' When a volcano in Iceland or a volcano in Mt. St. Helens goes off it puts more carbon dioxide into the air than the whole industrial revolution. So I think that probably is not a viable scientific process."

(Sneyd) Former radio talk show host Paul Beaudry says the climate is in a constant state of change and he doesn't buy the theories that human activity has accelerated it.

Beaudry says there's a political purpose behind climate change.

(Beaudry) "Global warming, manmade global warming in my opinion is nothing but a lie used to scare people into signing bills like cap and trade, impose additional environmental regulations, which will actually end up reducing our economy. The fact that they've labeled carbon dioxide a pollutant is, in my opinion, stupid. Because nothing would be green out there without carbon dioxide."

(Sneyd) Businessman Keith Stern also doubts the climate science.

But he says for the good of the economy, energy policy has to change.

(Stern) "We have to reduce fossil fuel use in this country. That's why I'm pushing for the use of ethanol from switchgrass and sugar beets as a replacement for a lot of the fossil fuels we're using now."

(Sneyd) But according to an expert in climate science, the opinions of the three candidates are outside the mainstream of scientific and political thought.

Gus Speth spent a decade as dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and he joined the Vermont Law School faculty this year.

Speth says he's worked on climate change questions since he was chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality under President Jimmy Carter.

(Speth) "There is simply no doubt within the credible scientific community that human-induced climate change is not just a major theoretical possibility but is an actual fact at this point."

(Sneyd) Speth says there's proof that the climate is changing in the news this week, from devastating floods in Pakistan to scorching heat and forest fires in Russia.

For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.

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