Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul take the stage before the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee.
Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/AP

As climate talks open, many candidates flunk science test

The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/30/15, 11:14 PM ET

Hope pervades as leaders craft world climate agreement

Chris Jansing, NBC News senior White House correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about the world leaders gathered in Paris to work on a climate change agreement, and the hard diplomatic work President Obama is doing personally to help make an…
Officials from around the world began high-level talks in Paris today, as the United Nations climate change conference kicked off a 10-day gathering intended to combat the intensifying climate crisis. President Obama is on hand and delivered a speech to attendees this morning.
The U.S. leader’s challenges are obvious. For one thing, there’s plenty of international resistance to making any kind of short-term sacrifice to deal with global warming, and given the scope of the crisis, dramatic changes are required. For another, the Obama administration has to deal with the fact that an entire American political party is actively trying to sabotage American officials’ efforts at the Paris gathering.
But there’s also the fact that the president, who’s been laying the groundwork for these talks for quite a while, only has one year remaining in office, and much of the work will have to continue after Obama’s successor is elected. Depending on who that successor is, that could be very good news for our environmental future or very bad news.
MSNBC’s Tony Dokoupil had an interesting report over the holiday weekend on the candidates’ preparedness on the issue.
The Associated Press invited eight climate and biological scientists to grade the scientific accuracy of candidates in both parties. The material included debates, published interviews and tweets. The candidates’ names were not known to the reviewers. As an added protection against bias, the scientists were selected by professional scientific societies.
The grades, which ran from 0 to 100, were mostly abysmal. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the strongest and the wrongest, receiving a grade of 6 points for accuracy. All eight evaluators placed Cruz dead last. Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor, wrote of Cruz’s statements: “This individual understands less about science (and climate change) than the average kindergartner.”
Of course, with Cruz, it’s often difficult to know whether and when he’s playing a political game. Is he actually ignorant or is he saying foolish things he knows to be wrong in the hopes of winning votes from his party’s right-wing base?
Regardless, if Cruz fared the worst, who fared the best?
I put together this chart showing the results by candidate, with red columns for Republicans and blue columns for Democrats.

Climate Change, Global Warming, Paris and Rachel Maddow Show Charts

As climate talks open, many candidates flunk science test