When White House officials said this week that President Obama is now “getting into the weeds on climate change and considers it one of the key components of his legacy,” they weren’t kidding.
The administration, apparently given up on the possibility of congressional action, announced a series of executive actions this morning, including “more than 300 private and public sector commitments to create jobs and cut carbon pollution by advancing solar deployment and energy efficiency.”
And fulfilling a campaign promise, installation of the White House’s own solar panels was completed this week.
With this in mind, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was asked the other day about President Obama’s focus on the climate change, and the conservative senator’s response was striking.
“You know, listen I think severe weather has been a fact of life on earth since man started recording history. I think it’s – I understand that there’s a vast consensus of scientists that are saying that human activities what’s contributing to changes in our climate. I think it’s an enormous threat to say that every weather incident that we now read about is – or the majority of them are attributable to human activity. But here’s what we need to do as policy makers.“So that’s where the president is. He’s not a meteorologist. And here is what the president needs to be focused on and that is he is proposing a certain set of policies that he would have to admit if questioned, will do nothing. If in fact this scientists are right and it’s a greenhouse gas emissions that are changing our climate, none of things he is proposing would do anything to change that whatsoever, but it would have a devastating impact on our economy.”
A couple of years ago, Rubio was asked how old he thinks the planet is. The senator replied, “I’m not a scientist, man.”
No, apparently he’s not. In fact, his take on climate change is a reminder of just how seriously Rubio takes science.
Let’s break down his response a bit.
* Rubio doesn’t think climate change is responsible for “every weather incident.” That’s true, though no one’s suggested anything to the contrary. The argument, rather, is that global warming intensifies environmental conditions.
* Rubio wants us to know the president is “not a meteorologist.” I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean in this context. Obama may not be a weatherman but he doesn’t have to be to recognize the severity of the climate crisis based on the overwhelming scientific evidence.
* Rubio is convinced the White House’s climate agenda “will do nothing” and “none of things he is proposing would do anything to change that whatsoever.” As Katie Valentine explained, the senator’s critique doesn’t make any sense at all, given the president’s ambitious plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
And finally, there’s Rubio’s assumption that combating the problem would have “a devastating impact on our economy.” First, it’s worth noting that a global climate crisis would have “a devastating impact” on all sorts of things – including our economy – suggesting the Florida Republican’s argument is rather self-defeating.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, addressing global warming doesn’t have to hurt the economy. In reality, smart policymaking and sensible investments in renewable energy can actually help the economy and create jobs.
All it takes is a commitment from responsible policymakers who are willing to ignore Rubio’s approach to the issue.