Rubio: "Of course the climate is changing"

Where does this fall on the spectrum of Republican global-warming heresies? Major, minor, or no heresy at all? A GOPer who argued that climate change is happening, man is causing it, and we should do what we can to mitigate it is DOA as a national candidate. One who argued that it’s happening and that man is causing it but that we either shouldn’t act or it’s too late to act is on very thin ice (no pun intended), but might be able to skate. Rubio’s take today, an elaboration of his comments on climate change over the weekend, is a twist on the latter: Climate change is happening but it might not be man-made, and even if it is, unilateral mitigation efforts by the U.S. are pointless and economically destructive. A global problem requires a global solution, assuming a man-made solution is even feasible. Which raises the question: What would President Rubio do if China and the other major polluters proposed a deal to reduce emissions? Would the global buy-in cause him to reconsider his opposition to regulation or would the U.S. reject the deal on economic grounds? You trust a guy who swore he was anti-amnesty as a candidate in 2010 before championing the Gang of Eight bill to be a stickler on this issue, at least, right?

I’m needling Rubio here but I’ll defend him from this point raised by lefty Benjy Sarlin:

Then things took a bizarre turn. Rubio said he objected to “cap and trade” legislation designed to reduce emissions – not because such reductions were unnecessary, but because he thought other countries wouldn’t follow suit with similar legislation of their own.

“What I disagree with is the notion if we pass cap and trade, for example, this will stop this from happening, when in fact half of the new emissions on the planet are coming from developing countries and half of that is coming from one country, China, that isn’t going to follow whatever laws we pass,” he said.

Given that Rubio said in an interview with ABC News over the weekend that he doesn’t believe “human activity” does much to influence the climate in the first place, this makes about as much sense as arguing against a bill to eliminate all vowels from the alphabet because Europe won’t match America’s letter-reducing fervor.

I think Rubio’s just arguing in the alternative. He doesn’t think reducing emissions will ease global warming, but even if you do, you need to explain to him how unilateral U.S. reductions will stop China from belching endless tons of carbon into the atmosphere. His whole point here is that it doesn’t matter what one believes about what’s causing climate change; even if the warmists are right, there’s no global policy solution to their problem right now. That’s his way of steering the conversation away from the cause-and-effect debate, which the left is interested in because they want to brand him as anti-science and “radical.” And if the answer to all this is that the U.S. shouldn’t wait to act until other countries do, I’d remind you that political actors routinely do that sort of thing. The classic example domestically is liberals and taxes. They support raising taxes, including on themselves, in the name of reducing the deficit, but hardly any of them volunteer to pay more even though collectively doing so would put a dent in the deficit. They’ll pay more if and only if all Americans pay, as a matter of law. Rubio’s taking the same position vis-a-vis climate change, albeit with the caveat that he doubts “paying more” in terms of reducing emissions will do much to affect the climate. Next time he’s asked about this, he should redirect the question the way the Free Beacon did. Namely, if Democrats care so much about global warming, even at the expense of economic growth, how come Harry Reid’s taking his sweet-ass time in pushing a bill? Didn’t they have a veto-proof majority in Congress a few years ago where they could have passed cap-and-trade? What happened?

Anyway. This is hot-button fun but it wasn’t the subject Rubio set out to talk about today. He was at the podium to discuss entitlement reform, which is no small thing for a senator from Florida to tackle. Here’s the transcript; his core idea is opening up Congress’s retirement plan to Americans who lack a 401(k) at work.

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