Jonathan Chait

Pawlenty's Galileo Moment

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We've come to the point where obtaining the Republican presidential nomination requires one to submit a Galileoesque recantation of one's previous endorsement of climate science. Via Darren Samuelsohn, here' Tim Pawlenty in an interview with the Miami Herald:

Q: You also no longer favor a cap-and-trade global-warming solution, right?

Pawlenty: “Like most of the major candidates on the Republican side to varying degrees, everybody studied it, looked at it. We did the same. But I concluded, in the end some years ago, that it was a bad idea… We never actually implemented it. I concluded ultimately it was a bad idea. It would be harmful to the economy. The science was I think based on unreliable conclusions.”

Q: Do you think there’s man-made climate change?

Pawlenty: “Well, there’s definitely climate change. The more interesting question is how much is a result of natural causes and how much, if any, is attributable to human behavior. And that’s what the scientific dispute is about.”

Q: Were do you fall on the spectrum?

Pawlenty: “It’s something we have to look to the science on. The weight of the evidence is that most of it, maybe all of it, is because of natural causes. But to the extent there is some element of human behavior causing some of it – that’s what the scientific debate is about. That’s why we’ve seen all this back and forth between some of those prominent scientists in the world arguing about that very point.”

Q: There is a strong case for man-made climate change, according to a University of Miami climate researcher I’ve spoken to. You don’t agree with him?

Pawlenty: “There’s lots of layers to it. But at least as to any potential man-made contribution to it, it’s fair to say the science is in dispute. There’s a lot of people who say the majority of the scientists think this way. And there’s a minority that way. And you count the number of scientists versus the quality of scientists and the like. But I think it’s fair to say that, as to whether and how much – if any – is attributable to human behavior, there’s dispute and controversy over it.

He is such a soulless hack. But this is the state of the Republican Party now. No doubt Pawlenty tells himself he must pretend not to believe in climate science or else the nomination may go to somebody who genuinely disbelieves climate science.

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