Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

What the GOP thinks about climate change

(It's DaVinci, not Galileo. But related? Beards, breaking the mold, science.)


Want a sense of what the Republican Presidential candidate will say about climate change? So might Republicans after last night's debate. 

Not surprisingly, jobs and the economy took center stage last night at the GOP smackdown in Simi Valley. Environment issues and even energy policy may be destined to be tangential to the 2012 presidential race. But that didn't stop two candidates from talking about climate change, and their side-skirmish perfectly expressed a tension the party has about its relationship to climate science.

“The science is not settled on this.  The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense,” Perry said.  “Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell."

This didn't necessarily sit well with Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., who later on referred obliquely to Perry and his views. 

Huntsman said: ""Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution — all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science."

New York Magazine has more background on Perry's "embarrassing" Galileo analogy.  We'll have more in this space soon about what will likely be one of my personal favorite phrases of the 2012 campaign season, "settled science" (I also like "job killing" and for that matter "green jobs").

In the meantime, maybe these guys want to take a look at at the Arctic Circle, where Los Angeles based artist John Quigley put a Vitruvian man on a piece of ice as an art installation. Quigley did this, in concert with Greenpeace, because, in his words, "climate change is literally eating into the body of our civilization.") 

Later this month, the same ship that took Quigley up there to draw a Vitruvian man on ice with copper strips will measure ice thickness, as it does each year. According to the National Snow Ice and Data Center ice has been retreating an average of 10 percent a decade since 1979; that's about 28,000 square miles gone each year. Quigley and his volunteers picked up the copper off the ice after they photographed it - so the ice is again free to melt with only the customary human involvement. 


(Photo by Nick Cobbing/Greenpeace.)