Romney: Climate change is real, man is contributing to it, and it's time to do something about it

It’s not news that he believes it’s real and at least partly man-made, but it is sort of newsy that he thinks it’s time to take action. Actually, wait: I think it probably is news to lots of Republican voters that he thinks AGW is real. It shouldn’t be, as Romney’s copped to believing that both on the trail and in a book he wrote in 2010, but one of the fun things about Romney campaigns is that you never know which long-held conservative heresy is suddenly going to blow up on him. He flamed out in the primaries in 2008 but RomneyCare was never much of an issue. Four years later, after ObamaCare had made Massachusetts’s reforms toxic to the right, he was forced to swallow hard and explain it away — but meanwhile, his pronouncements on climate change largely went unnoticed. Four years after that, is climate change poised to become the RomneyCare of the 2016 primaries?

Nah, of course not. The RomneyCare of the 2016 primaries will be, er, RomneyCare.

While hitting familiar Republican points criticizing the size of the federal debt, Romney at times sounded like a Democrat, calling for President Barack Obama and other leaders in Washington to act on common liberal priorities such as climate change, poverty and education.

“I’m one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that,” he said of climate change, charging that federal leaders have failed to enact global agreements needed to tackle the problem

“Let’s deal with poverty,” he said Wednesday night. “Have we done it? No. Let’s do it.”…

Romney had previously acknowledged that climate change is real, noting in his 2010 book that “human activity is a contributing factor.” But he questioned the extent to which man was contributing to the warming of the planet and said throughout his 2012 campaign that America shouldn’t spend significant resources combating the problem — particularly with major polluters like China doing little.

In 2011, he said, “I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And … I believe that humans contribute to that.” The next year, he hedged by insisting that we don’t really know what’s causing climate change and that, whatever it may be, we’re surely not about to spend trillions to try to stop it. Now, evidently, he’s knocking Congress for not being more aggressive in forging international agreements to solve the problem. Remember, this is a guy who thinks his path to the nomination is running to Jeb Bush’s right. Can you survive the Republican primaries these days preaching that it’s time for America to ratify the Kyoto Protocol?

Perhaps, my friends. Perhaps:


That’s quite a reversal in the span of just a year. In fact, on the threshold question of whether climate change is a “result of human activity,” the partisan group that’s shown the sharpest increase since September 2013 is Republicans. Partly that’s because the GOP’s numbers had more room to grow. Democrats increased from 70 percent to 78 percent over the same span while independents rose from 44 percent to 54 percent. Republicans rose from 29 percent to 42 percent — still a minority position but a significant enough gain to shake loose 15 GOP votes in the Senate yesterday for the proposition that “human activity contributes to climate change.” But maybe all of this is fleeting: Read down into YouGov’s poll analysis and you’ll find that, as recently as one month ago, just 27 percent of Republicans agreed that man was contributing to climate change. What goosed the numbers, apparently, was NASA’s announcement that 2014 was the hottest year on record. They’ve since walked that back, admitting there’s less than a 40 percent chance that it’s true, but the “damn, last year was hot” news stories every January may be having a cumulative effect in moving opinion … if only for a month or two. Romney had better hope that the latest wave of concern on the right lasts longer than that.

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