Climate

Santorum: I’m More Qualified Than Pope Francis To Talk About Climate Change Because I’m A Politician

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Rick Santorum says it's ok for him to talk about climate change because, unlike the Pope, he's a politician.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, former Pennsylvania senator and current GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum tried to explain why he is more qualified than the Pope to discuss climate change. Santorum caused a stir earlier this week when he told a Philadelphia radio station that Pope Francis should “leave science to the scientists” and focus on things like “theology and morality” instead of climate change.

“If he’s not a scientist — and in fact, he does have a degree in chemistry — neither are you?” host Chris Wallace asked Santorum Sunday. “So, I guess the question would be, if he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?”

Santorum defended his discussions about climate change by distinguishing politicians from church leaders. “Politicians, whether we like it or not, people in government have to make decision with regard to public policy that affect American workers,” Santorum said, adding that while “the pope can talk about whatever he wants to talk about,” he questions the Pope’s use of his moral authority to combat the issue of climate change.

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

The Catholic Church has long framed climate change as a moral issue, noting that its potential impacts — rising sea level, more frequent extreme weather events, and natural resource scarcity — disproportionately impact poor and developing nations. The Pope is expected to release an encyclical letter on the environment June 18, which will be the Church’s strongest move to date on addressing the issue of climate change.

Santorum — a devout Catholic — disagrees with the Pope’s stance that climate change is a man-made. He has often called climate science “political science,” and argued on Sunday that a scientific consensus on climate change underscores this point.

“All of this certainty, which is what bothers me about the debate, the idea that science is settled,” Santorum said. “Any time you hear a scientist say science is settled, that’s political science, not real science.”

97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that the climate-warming seen over the past century is a result of human activity. The scientific consensus that global-warming is man made is about the same as the consensus within the scientific community that smoking leads to lung cancer.

On Sunday, Santorum also called climate science “speculative science, which has proven over time not to have checked out,” claiming that climate predictions over the past 15 years have proven untrue. One common climate denial argument rests on a so-called “pause” in global warming over the past 15 years, when temperatures were not appearing to rise at the rate predicted by climate models. Early this week, however, NOAA released a new study reassessing temperature data over the past century taking into account new methods for measuring global surface temperature. The study found that there has been no slowdown in global temperature increase over the past 15 years — instead, the rate of temperature increase has been accelerating slightly.