Romney Joins the “Don’t Know Much” Crowd on Climate — Here’s a Video in Honor of “Mushy Mitt”

(Reuters) — Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in danger of losing his 2012 Republican primary front-runner status, [said] on Wednesday he would not place restrictions on carbon emissions if elected….

“Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”

“What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.”

It’s Romney’s new slogan:  “Vote for me.  Why?  I don’t know!

Romney’s position is melting faster than the Arctic ice.  Last month he said, “I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you’re seeing.”

Hmm, does that mean Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL) was right when he said Romney was “a little mushy on environmental issues”?  Here’s a video in honor of Mushy Mitt’s new know-nothing strategy:

Let’s review what we know — our ever-strengthening scientific understanding  — which includes the “settled fact” that the earth is warming.

The evidence that the world’s getting hotter from multiple independent lines of observation is so strong that back in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal” — and that word was signed off on by every member government, including the Bush administration and China and Saudi Arabia.  The U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded its 2010 review of climate science, saying it is a “settled fact” that “the Earth system is warming.”

So we know it is warming.

As for the role of humans, the IPCC also concluded:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

Last year, Time magazine reported on a comprehensive new review paper of “100 peer-reviewed post-IPCC studies” in an article titled, “Report: The Case for Global Warming Stronger Than Ever” noting:

By looking at a wide range of observations from all over the world,  the Met Office study concludes that the fingerprint of human influence on climate is stronger than ever. “We can say with a very high significance level that the effects we see in the climate cannot be attributed to any other forcings [factors that push the climate in one direction or another],” says study co-author Gabriele Hegerl of the University of Edinburgh.

Indeed, many if not most climate scientists would go as far or farther.  NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt was asked on RealClimate:  “What percentage of global warming is due to human causes vs. natural causes?”  His answer is straightforward:

Over the last 40 or so years, natural drivers would have caused cooling, and so the warming there has been is caused by a combination of human drivers and some degree of internal variability. I would judge the maximum amplitude of the internal variability to be roughly 0.1 deg C over that time period, and so given the warming of ~0.5 deg C, I’d say somewhere between 80 to 120% of the warming. Slightly larger range if you want a large range for the internal stuff.

Absent the increasing GHGs, we probably would have cooled, since

  1. We’ve had a couple of big volcanoes.
  2. We’re just coming off “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century.”.
  3. The underlying long-term trend had been cooling (see Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds, see figure below).


The more important point is that the rapid increase in the human-driven component of the forcing are increasingly dwarfing the small, slow natural forcings, rendering them increasingly irrelevant (see “Humans boosting CO2 14,000 times faster than nature, overwhelming slow negative feedbacks“).  In the Anthropocene Epoch, humankind’s destiny is in its hands.

Consider two DotEarth posts on “Andrew A. Lacis, the  NASA climatologist  whose 2005 critique of the United Nations climate panel was  embraced by bloggers seeking to cast doubt on human-driven climate change” (Part I and Part II).

Lacis had commented on the Fourth Assessment, “There is no scientific merit to be found in the Executive Summary.”  The deniers got all hot cool and bothered, writing, “Remember, this guy is mainstream, not a sceptic.”  After pointing out the IPCC authors’ response, “Rejected. [Executive Summary] summarizes Ch 9, which is based on the peer reviewed literature,” WattsUp wrote, “Simply astonishing. This is a consensus?”

Then Lacis explained exactly what he meant:

Human-induced warming of the climate system is established fact….

My earlier criticism had been that the IPCC AR4 report was equivocating in not stating clearly and forcefully enough that human-induced warming of the climate system is established fact, and not something to be labeled as “very likely” at the 90 percent probability level.


The bottom line is that CO2 is absolutely, positively, and without question, the single most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. It acts very much like a control knob that determines the overall strength of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. Failure to control atmospheric CO2 is a bad way to run a business, and a surefire ticket to climatic disaster.

Doh! He thought the IPCC ‘consensus’ was some watered down, least-common denominator piece of wishy-washiness that understates our scientific understanding, which it is.

Of course, if the IPCC’s findings are watered down, then someone who doesn’t even accept those findings — like Mushy Mitt — just doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Related Posts:

  • How carbon dioxide controls earth’s temperature;  NASA’s Lacis: “There is no viable alternative to counteract global warming except through direct human effort to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level.”
  • NASA:  “We conclude that global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade” and “there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20°C/decade that began in the late 1970s.”

23 Responses to Romney Joins the “Don’t Know Much” Crowd on Climate — Here’s a Video in Honor of “Mushy Mitt”

  1. Michael Tucker says:

    Every time a Republican tries to take a stand that might actually benefit Americans they ALWAYS have to retreat. No Republican can support policy that will benefit the lives of ordinary Americans. All Republicans must support policy that will benefit corporations, especially the fossil fuel industry, and the wealthy. Oh, Romney is already number two.

  2. Sasparilla says:

    Very true about Mushy Mitt, although he is one of the few GOP hopefuls that doesn’t appear to outright deny climate change. He’s watching his leading position in the Republican field be destroyed by the full bore anti climate change Perry candidacy.

    Of course Mushy Mitt doesn’t have anything on our way beyond Mushy President who (although rarely) actually can explain climate change (so you know he understands it and how serious he is) but then approves large increases in Coal extraction from Federal lands, increased oil drilling including in the Arctic now (Shell) and of course approving the very first tar sands pipeline from Canada to the US Midwest back in 2009 and has been lining up that XL tar sands pipeline for approval (based on the actions of the State Department).

    It’s one thing to vacillate on climate change when you’re campaigning in today’s Republican Party – its quite another when you run with action on climate change as a core plank of your platform and then actually do the opposite when you get in office (that’s tar sands pipelines, large increases in coal production on government lands and approving oil drilling in the Arctic).

    What name should we give our president for these actions? It would seem to need to be much worse than just mushy.

  3. Peter Mizla says:

    It makes me wonder- how much longer will any politician or media empire — you hear me NYT? Will Continue to deny or distort ACC?

    The Public seems as uniformed and disengaged then ever.

    Never in the history of human civilization will so many be effected by the bomb ticking right now. When it blows up in their face…..

    I wonder of these fools see the massive melting in the arctic this summer?

  4. cervantes says:

    Well, this is just Romney’s nature. He doesn’t believe in anything except his own ambition, and he never has. For example, he is one of only three (so far) Republican candidates to sign the “National Organization for Marriage” pledge not only to oppose same sex marriage but also to”“appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.” Yeah, right.

    Romney ran for the Senate, and for governor of Massachusetts, as a committed supporter of gay rights. He even promised to “out-gay”, as it were, Ted Kennedy. Oh yeah. He was for abortion rights before he was against it. He not only supported mandatory health insurance, he signed the legislation. The guy is a stuffed suit with a hairdo. One of the most contemptible people on earth.

  5. Jeffrey Davis says:

    It’s a scenario straight out of “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats.

  6. Michael Hillinger says:

    I asked Mitt the question yesterday. Here is the text of the question:

    Mr. Romney. When I asked you about climate change in June you said

    “I believe the world is getting warmer.…I don’t know how much our contribution is to that …but I believe we contribute to that.”

    You are one of only two republican candidates to acknowledge global warming. As to the human contribution– there are multiple lines of evidence that confirm humans are the primary cause.

    Yet your proposed solution is to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” which simply replaces Saudi Arabian hydrocarbons with Canadian tar sands hydrocarbons. Or to increase our use of natural gas, which recent Cornell studies show has a carbon footprint as great as coal. Or to rely on nuclear power, that no utility is interested in developing because of the time and costs involved.

    You also stated that the EPA should not be regulating CO2—even though the Supreme Court ruled in a case brought by your State-that because of its role in global warming, CO2 is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

    So, Gov. Romney, rather than talking about energy policy can you address your carbon policy—How do you propose to change the business as usual path we are on, a path that could see global temperatures increase by over 5 deg C by the end of this Century.


    I also had a bit of a dialogue with him while he was answering the question pointing out that it wasn’t my opinion but the NAS.

    He preferred his “willful ignorance”

  7. Mushy Mitt says:

    All Republicans must support policy that will benefit corporations, especially the fossil fuel industry, and the wealthy.

    Corporations are people, my friend!


    – Mitt

  8. Leif says:

    What should we say about the President when he says one thing and does another? I say that the speaks with a forked tongue.

  9. John McCormick says:

    RE # 3
    Peter, reminds me of that 1966, Alan Bates Movie, “King of Hearts”.

    During the latter part of World War I, Private Charles Plumpick is chosen to go into the French town of Marville and disconnect a bomb that the German army has planted. However, Charles is chased by some Germans and finds himself holed up at the local insane asylum, where the inmates are convinced that he is the “King of Hearts.” Feeling obligated to help the inmates, Charles attempts to lead them out of town, but they are afraid to leave and frolic about the streets in gay costumes.

    Sounds like modern America. Inmates in the institution named democracy.

    John McCormick

  10. Wes Rolley says:

    It may be that both Romney and Inhofe spoke the truth, for once. There is a lot that Romney does not know. But he has to play to the crowd and that ends up rather mushy.

    Regarding, Inhofe, it may be a first for him telling the truth regarding an issue of climate change.

  11. Are there any petitions that I can sign that will go directly to the decision maker’s on Capitol Hill. I want them to know that the American people do not support their decisions that are affecting our planet.

  12. Peter Mizla says:

    Is is ‘Willful ignorance’ or willful ‘criminality’?

    In the future someone will be blamed- and accused, and found negligent.

  13. steve says:

    After Hurricane Irene is done with Mass, hopefully Perry will have a sit down with Rep candidate Jon Huntsman. Anybody see Jeff Masters post from Th afternoon? holy schmoly, E coast hang on

  14. steve says:

    Of course, I meant to say hopefully MITT will sit down with Huntsman. If Perry does too I think I’ll faint.

  15. Mike says:

    Any thoughts on why Huntsman is not getting much traction?

  16. Edith Wiethorn says:

    This whole “Mushy MITT” churning reeks of Obama’s most manipulative handlers & spinners. It’s disheartening to see TPCP used or participating in such a low-level fragmentation of the issues.

  17. Joe Romm says:

    He isn’t mushy?

  18. Michael Tucker says:

    ‘cept it was Perry who coined it and I think Thurston Howell III…I mean Mitt, needs to clarify his position.

  19. Michael Tucker says:

    oops, I meant to say Inhofe coined it.

  20. steve says:

    Because not enough closet republican scientists have rediscovered their philosophical Englightment roots. When they do and come out of the closet, they can start bashing the anti-science crowd as un-American. Best thing that could happen is for that bunch to get feisty over the assualt on science.

  21. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    The song is great, but should be updated to include Perry. Did anyone see Brooks’s column in the Times today? It seems Perry is now the leader and tied with Obama. I would much prefer Mitt to Perry.

  22. Leif says:

    Write a letter to the White House. Google “White House E-mail.”