Climate Change Question Gets Short Shrift
Asked whether they would take the issue seriously, the candidates on the GOP debate stage showed they wouldn’t.
THE TEMPERATURE IN MILWAUKEE on Wednesday reached 100 degrees, a record high for this date. July was the hottest month on record, worldwide. Almost certainly, 2023 will be the hottest year since modern record-keeping began.
During Wednesday night’s raucous debate in Milwaukee between eight contenders for the GOP nomination for president, no one mentioned the brutal heat that had engulfed the city and state. But moderator Martha MacCallum, a Fox News mainstay, did cue up a discussion on global warming by flagging some obvious recent signs that something is amiss, including that California has just experienced its first tropical storm in decades.
Then a video was shown of a young man from the conservative Young America’s Foundation. He identified climate change as a key concern among young people like himself and posed the question: “How will you, as both president of the United States and leader of the Republican party, calm their fears that the Republican party doesn’t care about climate change?”
MacCallum took it to the group: “Do you believe [that] human behavior is causing climate change?” It was a simple question with an even simpler answer: yes. She asked the candidates for a show of hands. Instead, they shoved the question down her throat.
“We’re not schoolchildren!” bellowed Florida Governer Ron DeSantis, who, had he been so inclined, could have noted that he has taken historic action to protect the Everglades and vetoed a bill that would have kneecapped the state’s solar industry. Instead, he launched into a rant about “the way the corporate media treats Republicans versus Democrats.”
Injected businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, apropos of nothing, “I am the only person on this stage who isn’t bought and paid for,” which somehow gave him the courage to declare that “the climate change agenda is a hoax” and that “more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change.”
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“I’ve had enough,” jumped in former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, ripping into Ramaswamy as “a guy who sounds like ChatGPT” and ridiculing his self-description as a skinny guy with a funny name. That reminded Christie of Barack Obama “and I’m afraid we’re dealing with the same type of amateur standing on the stage tonight.”
Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley triumphantly declared that the exchange reminded her of “why Margaret Thatcher said ‘If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.’” Haley acknowledged that climate change is “real” but then quickly added: “If you want to go and really change the environment, then we need to start telling China and India that they have to lower their emissions.”
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott closed out the thoroughly unenlightening discussion, saying “I grew up in a single-parent household mired in poverty,” which made him realize that “America can do for anyone what she’s done for me.” The upshot in terms of climate change, he said, was this: “If we want the environment to be better, and we all do, the best thing to do is to bring our jobs home from China.”
Remember, the young man’s question to the candidates was, “How will you calm fears that the Republican party doesn’t care about climate change?” The answer is they won’t.