NPR put together a very useful table, Where Presidential Candidates Stand On Climate Change. What I find most interesting about it is that there aren’t that many Republican candidates who reject global warming outright. There are only four who absolutely reject it: Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump. The table claims that Ted Cruz’s position on global warming is “complicated.” But that’s not really true. At least as a presidential candidate, he’s full-tilt global warming denial.
But if you drill down further, you see that actually no one in the Republican field believes in global warming. It really comes down to the Three Stages of Global Warming Denial. It’s pretty hard to say that there is no global warming and not come off as a complete idiot. Just look at the list above. Two more candidates believe global warming is real but not caused by humans: Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. I actually think this is an even worse position to hold. It says that global warming is happening but we have no idea why. It doesn’t make much sense. But this is stage two.
But if you look at people who are willing to do something about global warming, that leaves only two. First there is Lindsey Graham, who has not put forward any plan, which shows just how important he thinks it is. And then there is Bobby Jindal. He has put forward a plan, but it is primarily to make things far worse:
But note that neither of these guys is a top tier candidate. In fact, Jindal isn’t even running anymore. If you look at the top tier, there are only three candidates who have ever called for anything at all to be done about global warming: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. I don’t think any of them have been willing to say that during the course of the campaign. It’s sad. If one of them actually came out with a plan, it would be a typical Republican plan like Jindal’s that would make the situation worse.
It’s also interesting to note that every one of the Republicans is in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. I’ll admit that in the grand scheme of things, that isn’t a terribly important issue. But if you think global warming is a problem, you can’t be for the pipeline.
Meanwhile, all three of the Democratic candidates have actual plans to combat global warming. We don’t even have to discuss whether or not they believe in it. Of course, I suppose the Republicans could argue that they do have a big tent. The Democrats all believe the same thing (also known as the truth). The Republicans are all over the place in their denial. But it is important to remember that. What we are seeing with the Republicans is what we saw at the end of Terminator 2 where the T-1000 is trying various forms to survive. The Republicans are trying to find a winning strategy for avoiding doing anything about global warming.