Presidential candidates statements on Climate, annotated by scientists
Climate Feedback is asking scientists to analyze presidential candidate discourses on climate change after an Associated Press reporter contacted scientists with this request. In the spirit of trying to keep this single blind objectivity, each candidate got assigned a randomly generated number. Scientists are invited to:
- check the facts in the candidates’ public statements (not their opinions or ideology),
- give each candidate a score on a scale of 0–100 for “accuracy and understanding of climate change”,
- refrain from trying to find out who the quoted candidates are.
If you do not see the scientists’ annotations, click here to reveal them.
MODERATOR: At the same time, energy production in America has boomed. Is it possible to continue this boom, and move toward energy self-sufficiency, while at the same time pursuing a meaningful climate change program?
CANDIDATE 12: The first thing I would do as president is repeal the regulations that are hampering our energy that the President has put in place.
Including the Clean Power Act. While I do think that man may have a role in our climate, I think nature also has a role. The planet’s 4.5 billion years old, we’ve been through geologic age after geologic age. We’ve had times when the temperature’s been warmer, we’ve had times when the temperature’s been colder. We’ve had times when the carbon in the atmosphere’s been higher. So, I think before we — we need to look before we leap.
President’s often fond of saying he wants a balance solution, but, really we do need to balance both keeping the environment clean, and we will have some rules for that. We got to balance that with the economy.
So, what we really need is somebody that understands that we do need energy of all forms, and that means we will have solar, and wind, and hydro, but we will still have coal, and we still will have natural gas. And, we’ve got to have an all of the above policy.
“If you listen to the hysterics …, you would think that the Statue of Liberty will shortly be under water and the polar bears are all drowning, and that we’re dying from pollution. It’s absolutely and utterly untrue.”
“Most Americans have been bamboozled into believing that all reputable scientists believe in global warming and that CO2 emissions are a major problem”. “The truth is there are just as many and even more qualified scientists refuting the sketchy and questionable evidence regarding global warming.”
[there is] “no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
“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. How much is man and how much is nature? Do you acknowledge nature has been changing the climate, nature has had an atmosphere with much higher Carbon than we’ve had today, and much lower. How much is man? How do you give a proportionality to how much is man and how much is nature? They seem to think it is like 99.99% man, and nothing nature, they don’t even acknowledge the natural climate.”
“I’m not a believer in manmade global warming. It could be warming and it’s going to start to cool at some point. You know in the 1920s people talked about global cooling. I don’t know if you know that or not. They thought the earth was cooling. Now it’s global warming. Actually, we’ve had times where the weather wasn’t working out so they changed it to extreme weather so they have all different names so that it fits the bill.’’
“I believe there’s weather. I believe there’s change. I believe it goes up. It goes down again.’’
Candidate 45 tweet:
“It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!”
“NBC News just called it the great freeze – coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?”
“I do not believe in climate change in the way that some of these people out there are trying to make us believe,” “I believe the climate is changing because there’s never been a moment where the climate is not changing.”
“The question is what percentage of that, or what is due to human activity. If we do the things they want, how much it will have on climate change or economy”
“Scientists can’t tell us what impact [such policies would have] on reversing these changes.”
“Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activities.”
MODERATOR: I’m citing George Shultz.
Candidate 93: “Well, and I don’t — he may have lined up with their positions on this issue. But here is the bottom line. Every proposal they put forward are going to be proposals that will make it harder to do business in America, that will make it harder to create jobs in America.
So we are not going to destroy our economy. We are not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our climate, to change our weather, because America is a lot of things, the greatest country in the world, absolutely.
But America is not a planet. And we are not even the largest carbon producer anymore, China is. And they’re drilling a hole and digging anywhere in the world that they can get a hold of.
“You can measure the climate. You can measure it. That’s not the issue we’re discussing. Here is what I’m skeptical of. I’m skeptical of the decisions that the left wants us to make, because I know the impact those are going to have and they’re all going to be on our economy.
They will not do a thing to lower the rise of the sea. They will not do a thing to cure the drought here in California. But what they will do is they will make America a more expensive place to create jobs.”
Candidate 95: “I’ve traveled across our country over the last months listening and learning, and I’ve put forward specific plans about how we’re going to create more good-paying jobs: by investing in infrastructure and clean energy, by making it possible once again to invest in science and research, and taking the opportunity posed by climate change to grow our economy.
But I have been on the forefront of dealing with climate change, starting in 2009, when President Obama and I crashed a meeting with the Chinese and got them to sign up to the first international agreement to combat climate change that they’d ever joined
I have put forward a plan — and I’m the only candidate, I believe, in either party to do this — to move America forward to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050.
We did not land a man on the moon with an all-of-the-above strategy. It was an intentional engineering challenge, and we solved it as a nation. And our nation must solve this one.
So I put forward the plan that would extend the investor tax credits for solar and for wind. If you go across Iowa, you see that 30 percent of their energy now comes from wind. We’re here in Las Vegas, one of the most sustainable cities in America, doing important things in terms of green building, architecture and design.
We can get there as a nation, but it’s going to require presidential leadership. And as president, I intend to sign as my very first order in office the — an order that moves us as a nation and dedicates our resources to solving this problem and moving us to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050.
I do think that the bilateral agreement that President Obama made with the Chinese was significant. Now, it needs to go further, and there will be an international meeting at the end of this year, and we must get verifiable commitments to fight climate change from every country gathered there.
“The reality of climate change is unforgiving…” “No matter what the deniers may say, sea levels are rising, icecaps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc. Thirteen of the top 14 warmest years in recorded history have all occurred since 2000.”
“You don’t have to be a scientist to take on this urgent challenge that threatens us all. You just have to be willing to act.”
“We’re on the cusp of a new era. We can have more choice in the energy we consume and produce. We can create a more open, efficient, and resilient grid that connects us, empowers us, improves our health, and benefits us all.”
“2015 is on track to be the hottest year on record. Climate change is not only real, it’s already present.”
“Climate change is real, and threatens us all. We need to act.”
“The climate is changing; I don’t think anybody can argue it’s not. Human activity has contributed to it. I think we have a responsibility to adapt to what the possibilities are without destroying our economy, without hollowing out our industrial core.”
“I think it’s appropriate to recognize this and invest in the proper research to find solutions over the long haul but not be alarmists about it. We should not say the end is near, not deindustrialize the country, not create barriers for higher growth, not just totally obliterate family budgets, which some on the left advocate by saying we should raise the price of energy so high that renewables then become viable.”
“U.S. emissions of greenhouse gasses are down to the same levels emitted in the mid-1990s, even though we have 50 million more people. A big reason for this success is the energy revolution which was created by American ingenuity—not federal regulations.”
“…We’ve had a 10% reduction in carbon emissions, and it isn’t because of Solyndra. It isn’t because of the central planners in Washington D.C. It’s because we’ve had a great American success story, the explosion of natural gas.”
“Taking two existing technologies, and applying it through innovation has created lower carbon emissions, lower energy costs — 40% of all the economic activity in the age of Obama has come from the energy sector, and [Candidate 95] wants to suppress that. We — I think we ought to be expanding this. High growth is the path to lower carbon, and more jobs.”
“I know for a fact, [in my state], we created the largest land purchasing programs, and environment clean-up programs because we had a growing economy. Our revenues were growing at 4.4%. It allowed for resources to be able to protect the natural system.”
“We got to get to a conservation… in environmental policy that goes beyond just carbon.”
“I don’t think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural,” “For the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant.”
in 2009: “It may be only partially man-made. It may not be warming by the way. The last six years we’ve actually had mean temperatures that are cooler.”
“The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.
Well, I will tell you this. I believe — and Pope Francis made this point. This is a moral issue. The scientists are telling us that we need to move extremely boldly.
And let me also tell you that nothing is gonna happen unless we are prepared to deal with campaign finance reform, because the fossil fuel industry is funding the Republican Party, which denies the reality of climate change … and certainly is not prepared to go forward aggressively.
This is a moral issue. We have got to be extremely aggressive in working with China, India, Russia
The debate is over. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. It is already causing devastating problems around the world.
Climate change is “a major, major, major planetary crisis.”
“Clearly, (climate change) is an international crisis. We can’t do it alone” [said, singling out China, Russia and India as key players in the fight to slow global warming.]
“But it’s important for those countries to understand that we are not just talking the talk, but we are walking the walk … And we are going to lead.”
MODERATOR: [candidate], you said you want to rid the planet of ISIS. In the previous debate you said the greatest threat to national security was climate change. Do you still believe that?
Candidate 29: “Absolutely. In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world — this is what the CIA says — they’re going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops ask you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict”
“If we are serious about combating climate change we have to do all we can to prevent the excavation of the dirtiest fossil fuels #KeystoneXL”
“The debate is over. Climate change is real, it is caused by humans and it is already causing devastating problems. #KeepItInTheGround”
“man absolutely affects the environment.
But as to whether, you know, what the impact is, the overall impact, I think that’s a legitimate debate. But what I do think is, you know, in my state,….. We’ve reduced emissions by 30 percent over the last 10 years. We believe in alternative energy. So of course we have to be sensitive to it. But we don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that’s not proven.”
In 2012, Candidate 20 said:
“This isn’t popular to always say, but I believe there is a problem with climates, climate change in the atmosphere,”
“I believe it. I don’t know how much there is, but I also know the good Lord wants us to be good stewards of his creation. And so, at the end of the day, if we can find these breakthroughs to help us have a cleaner environment, I’m all for it.”
“Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers. It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier.”
“If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there’s been zero recorded warming,” “The satellite says it ain’t happening.”
“They’re cooking the books. They’re actually adjusting the numbers,” “Enron used to do their books the same way.”
“The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened,”. “You know, back in the ’70s — I remember the ’70s, we were told there was global cooling. And everyone was told global cooling was a really big problem. And then that faded.”
“Climate change, as they have defined it, can never be disproved, because whether it gets hotter or whether it gets colder, whatever happens, they’ll say, well, it’s changing, so it proves our theory.”
“Climate change is not science. It’s religion.”
CANDIDATE 80 said scientists four decades ago were studying “global cooling, a global ice age was coming,” and they were as wrong as those who now say the earth is warming.”
Interviewer: “…., you’re not saying global warming isn’t real?”
Candidate 80: “I’m saying that data and facts don’t support it “
Interviewer: “Full on denial?”
Candidate 80: “It is always disturbing to hear science use the language of theology. Deniers. Heretics. That’s not what science is supposed to be about. Science should follow the facts.”
“I know there is a lot of people who say ‘overwhelming science,’ but then when you ask them to show the overwhelming science, they never can show it,” “There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused.”
“There’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on”. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that we have an obligation and a responsibility to protect our environment.”
“You can ask it several different ways, but my answer is going to be the same,” he said. “We may be warming. We may be cooling.”
“And, we must square our shoulders to the great challenge of climate change and make this threat our opportunity. The future is what we make of it. We are all in this together. And, the question in this election is whether you and I still have the ability to give our kids a better future. I believe we do, that is why I am running for president, and I need your help.”
“I believe that nuclear Iran remains the biggest threat, along with the threat of ISIL; climate change, of course, makes cascading threats even more [inaudible].”
“One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria and the rise of ISIS was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis that created the symptoms — or rather, the conditions — of extreme poverty that has led now to the rise of ISIL and this extreme violence.”
“I believe that we pay for many of the things that we need to do again as a nation, investing in the skills of our people, our infrastructure, and research and development and also climate change by the elimination of one big entitlement that we can no longer afford as a people, and that is the entitlement that many of our super wealthiest citizens feel they are entitled to pay — namely, a much lower income tax rate and a lower tax rate on capital gains.”
“It’s time to make a full, complete transition to renewable energy within 35 years—and end our reliance on fossil fuels.”
“Furthermore, we shouldn’t be so quick to embrace offshore exploration at a time when climate change is likely to cause increasingly powerful hurricanes, like Sandy in 2012. If a single hurricane has the power to damage or destroy more than 650,000 homes in its path, we should consider what might become of an oil rig.”
“offshore drilling fails to promote what must be our country’s foremost energy policy objectives: achieving long-term energy security, creating sustainable jobs, supporting the development of new energy technologies and fighting climate change.”
“Expanding offshore drilling is irreconcilable with the realities of climate science and irrelevant, at best, to taking advantage of the vast economic opportunities clean energy presents. We must move firmly toward a clean energy future.”
“we have to read all the fine print so everyone of the scientists that tell us that climate change is real and being caused by manmade activity also tell us that a single nation acting alone can make no difference at all. So when I see a state like California destroys lives and livelihoods with environmental regulations that will make no difference at all on climate change. When I see the Obama administration take that same regulation and apply it nationally. It will make no difference at all and yet we’re destroying people’s lives and livelihoods. I wonder why are we doing this? Why are we doing this when it won’t have any impact? So I think the answer to this problem is innovation not regulation.”
“we have to focus on innovation. We have to focus on how to make coal cleaner. Look coal provides half the energy in this nation still. Not to mention around the world. To say we’re basically we’re going to outlook coal which is what this administration has done is so self-defeating. It destroys jobs. It destroys communities. It’s not helping us and it’s not helping global warming. Lets get on with the innovation about how to make sure that we actually have clean coal technology. The Chinese will do it if we don’t. And they are doing it.”
“The thing we never do is tell the people the whole truth. So just as an example, I mean wind technology is very exciting to people. But do we tell people the truth that it slaughters millions of birds every year. I mean eagles, falcons, birds that people care about. Do we tell people it’s slaughtering these birds? Does anyone see how honestly unsightly those huge wind turbines are on some of the most beautiful hills. In other words there is no magic answer. There is no perfect source of energy. Every one of them has a downside. Solar is great but solar takes huge amounts of water. There isn’t water in a lot of the places where solar energy works well. American people can handle tradeoffs they’re pretty smart. Let’s tell them the truth about what tradeoffs are. And let’s tell them the truth about the fine print of the science.”
Interviewer: Is it a serious issue?
“I think it is frankly ridiculous for the Obama administration to call ISIS a strategic distraction and then go on to say that climate change is the single most pressing national security issue of our time. That’s hyperbole… I do not think climate change is a national security threat that equals in any way Iran getting a nuclear bomb, ISIS beheading people.”
“Look at what we have done in [my home state]. We have already reached our clean air goals for 2020. And when I was [job], I pulled out of the regional cap and trade deal, the only state in the [region] that did that. And we still reached our goals.”
“Why? Because 53 percent of our electricity comes from nuclear. We use natural gas. We use solar power. We’re the third-highest- using solar power state. You know why? Because we made all of those things economically feasible.”
“I agree with [candidate 93]. We shouldn’t be destroying our economy in order to chase some wild left-wing idea that somehow us by ourselves is going to fix the climate. We can contribute to that and be economically sound.”
“We have proven we can do that in [my state]. Nuclear needs to be back on the table in a significant way in this country if we want to go after this problem.”
MODERATOR: [candidate 2], you’ve said something that many in your party do not believe, which is that climate change is undeniable, that human activity contributes to it, and you said, quote: “The question is, what do we do to deal with it?”.
Candidate 2: “What we should do is to be investing in all types of energy, [moderator], all types of energy. I’ve laid out…
We’ve laid out a national energy plan that says that we should invest in all types of energy. I will tell you, you could win a bet at a bar tonight, since we’re talking about fantasy football, if you ask who the top three states in America are that produce solar energy: California and Arizona are easy, but number three is [my home state, not thought of as sunny state].
Why? Because we work with the private sector to make solar energy affordable and available to businesses and individuals in our state.”
“We need to make sure that we do everything across all kinds of energy: natural gas, oil, absolutely. But also where it’s affordable, solar, wind in Iowa has become very affordable and it makes sense.
That is the way we deal with global warming, climate change, or any of those problems, not through government intervention, not through government taxes, and for God’s sake, don’t send Washington another dime until they stop wasting the money they’re already sending there.”
in 2011: “There’s undeniable data that CO2 levels and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are increasing. This decade, average temperatures have been rising. Temperature changes are affecting weather patterns and our climate. … when you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role, it’s time to defer to the experts.”