Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has earned praise from conservatives for her stance on climate change. Unlike most Republicans, she has indicated that she accepts the science that says it is man-made — but she rejects the notion that the United States should do anything about it because it’s too expensive, and would take too much global coordination.
But in a recent sit-down interview with conservative radio personality Glenn Beck, a snippet of which was published on Beck’s website The Blaze on Monday, Fiorina indicated that she may not actually, personally believe what the majority of scientists say about the reality of climate change.
“You believe in global warming, that it’s man-made,” Beck asserted at Fiorina.
“No,” she gently countered. “I didn’t say that. What I said was, scientists tell us that global warming is real and man-made.”
“You are good,” Beck said, smiling and shaking his head.
Though it may seem insignificant, the distinction between “I believe the science” and “The scientists tell us” is important, especially when it comes to a politician’s view of global warming. Accepting mainstream climate science means personally accepting that future generations are in real danger — and that we, though our emissions of greenhouse gases, are largely to blame. Accepting mainstream climate science means knowing that millions will suffer if we don’t find some way to reduce those emissions.
Now, if Fiorina does not personally believe the science of climate change, her stance that we should not do anything about it makes more sense. But in her interview with Beck, she actually cites scientists to justify that position of inaction.
“Scientists also tell us this,” she said. “The only way with current technology to solve the problem of global warming is a global coordinated effort over 30 years costing trillions of dollars. Now what do we suppose the chances of that are? Zero.”
Fiorina is correct that a global coordinated effort is the only way to solve the problem of climate change, as is her assertion that the effort will likely cost, in total, trillions of dollars. But she is incorrect that the chances of that happening are “zero” — China, the current largest greenhouse gas emitter, and the United States, the largest historical emitter, are working together to reduce emissions. China, in fact, has just made its most wide-ranging emissions reductions pledge yet. And those efforts are actually expected to stimulate economic growth though investments in renewable technology, increased efficiency, and the improved health of a less polluted population.
But it seems that when it comes to climate science, Fiorina only really believes the part that says a huge effort will be required to solve the problem. If she did indeed believe the reality of the problem, she would either have to propose alternative policies to align with the carbon reductions scientists say are required, or make the case that the problem really isn’t that bad. If she does the latter, she will be directly denying the mainstream science of climate change. Indirectly, it seems like she already has.