Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a much-speculated presidential contender, has been hailed as the future of the Republican Party. But at a BuzzFeed event on Tuesday night, Rubio showed no signs that the new GOP is any different from the old. In fact, Rubio sounded exactly like Mitt Romney when he discussed the scientific consensus on climate change.
Rubio said he has “seen reasonable debate” over whether humans are causing climate change:
MARCO RUBIO: Anything that we would do on [climate change] would have a real impact on our economy, but probably, if it was only us doing it, a very negligible impact on the environment….
The U.S. is a country, not a planet. On the other hand if we unilaterally impose these things on the economy it will have a devastating impact. There has to be a cost benefit analysis to everyone of these principles people are pushing on. The benefit is difficult to justify when it’s only us doing it, no one else is doing it.
BEN SMITH: Do you see global warming as a threat to Florida?
RUBIO: The climate is always changing, that’s not the question. The question is if man made activity is what’s contributing the most to it. I know people said there’s a significant scientific consensus on that issue, but I’ve actually seen reasonable debate on that principle.
Romney made similar remarks on the campaign trail, when he said “we don’t know what’s causing climate change.”
However, Rubio gets the math wrong on the costs of climate change, especially in a state as vulnerable as Florida: One study shows that worsening extreme weather would cause Florida to lose up to $345 billion by the end of the 21st century from tourism losses, hurricane damages, real estate losses, and increased costs of electricity generation. By comparison, climate action imposes little cost.
So far, Republican attempts to “rebrand” the GOP show a party repackaging old policies in name only. Rubio’s recent record includes dabbling in creationism, voting against the Violence Against Women Act, and a poor attempt to moderate his anti-LGBT record.