Year 3, Month 9, Day 13: What Was The Question Again?

The New York Times reports on the Sciencedebate questions to the presidential aspirants:, which counts among its members the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Scientific American magazine and dozens of other professional and academic scientific societies, was created with the goal of raising the profile of scientific and technical questions in the presidential campaign.

In his response to the group’s question on climate change, Mr. Obama called it “one of the biggest issues of this generation” but stopped short of calling for a cap and trade system or other broad national policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, something that he had favored during the 2008 campaign. He said his administration had set stricter limits on emissions from vehicles, invested billions in clean energy research and proposed the first limits on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. He also said that the United States was leading international negotiations on climate change, although those talks have so far had little impact on greenhouse gas levels worldwide.

Mr. Romney, whose views – or at least, his language – on climate change have shifted somewhat over the years, gave one of his most forceful statements on the question yet. “I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences,” he wrote.

I’m far from satisfied with Obama’s handling of this issue…but Romney is truly, truly terrifying. Sent September 6:

The president’s reluctance to make climate change an issue in his campaign is the result of three mutually reinforcing factors in American politics: Republican intransigence, Democratic timidity, and the pervasive influence of corporate dollars.  In their obsessive rejection of environmental common sense, the GOP has turned the survival of our civilization into a partisan issue.  In shying away from anything that might trigger Republican outrage, the Democrats have acknowledged the political toxicity of reality-based energy and environmental policies.  And by injecting mountains of cash into the electoral and legislative processes, the world’s most powerful corporations have rigged the game in their favor.

And the erstwhile Massachusetts moderate? Romney cannot acknowledge scientific consensus without angering the tea-party voters who’ve adopted the rejection of facts and expertise as a political philosophy.   

Both approaches are bad news for humanity.  Politicians of both parties must start recognizing reality, not running from it.

Warren Senders

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