Is Chris Christie still seriously considering a run for the White House? Not saying he can’t or he shouldn’t, but he’s certainly staking out some rather interesting real estate for the primary in decidedly non-Jersey specific, national conversations. He’s back up in New Hampshire again this week and he tossed out a few gems on the climate change debate.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie broke slightly with many of the announced and potential Republican presidential candidates, saying that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it.
“I think global warming is real. I don’t think that’s deniable,” Christie said at a Keene, N.H., event, according to MSNBC. “And I do think human activity contributes to it.”
Christie later added that the degree to which humans contribute to climate change is still subject to debate.
Christie has previously acknowledged a human role in climate change, but he has not recently spoken about his position in depth.
In reality, Christie’s position on the issue isn’t all that far off the mark from most reasonably skeptical observers when it comes to the question of anthropogenic global warming. Nor have his actions as governor strayed much from the pack. On the first score, Christie gives a nod to the fact that the climate is changing. That’s pretty much a no-brainer for people on either side without a partisan stake in the fight. The climate is always changing, and as far as scientists can tell it’s been changing as long as the Earth has been here. And the governor also notes that the presence and activity of humans impacts the biosphere. Again… not in dispute. From the moment that the first caveman wandered down to the edge of some ocean and urinated in it, or set the first pile of dung on fire which wouldn’t have burned otherwise, we’ve been altering the total chemistry of the planet. Of course, all of the animals impact that chemistry. So do the plants. Heck… for that matter, the rocks out-gas vast amounts of toxic soup whenever lava makes it to the surface.
But Christie also backs away from the edge and admits that nobody knows the extent to which human activity affects the total package or if it’s enough to offset massive things like… the sun. Taking a “we don’t know enough to to definitively say either way” approach is not verboten to conservative ideology. It also lets the air out of the liberal tendency to treat climate science like a religion and Al Gore like the Pope. But when you’re fighting for the GOP nomination, dancing anywhere near the edge of that cliff is a risk.
On the second score – speaking of his governing record on the issue – it’s also hard to throw too many stones at Christie. As the Governor of a smallish state he doesn’t have that much involvement in the larger debate, but he did have to make a decision about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which would have enlisted Jersey in a carbon cap and tax scheme. Christie pulled his state out of it.
All in all, his record on the issue isn’t that bad… it’s just the optics which threaten to trip him up. But considering how far down he is in the polls, he might be looking for some spots where he can carve out some daylight between him and the rest of the field. I’m just not sure how well that sells in New Hampshire.