John McCain was an early and persistent supporter of cap-and-trade efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) associated with climate change. So was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who went on to make a YouTube video ad – with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, no less – where he said, “Our country must take action to address climate change.”
But now, Gingrich casts doubts on the seriousness of the problem. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney acknowledges the problem, but offers few remedies. That alone has raised conservative ire.
As Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty signed a state greenhouse gas law limiting emissions, led a regional climate partnership with Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and he supported cap-and-trade. Since then, he’s flip-flopped.
Former US Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R) of New York, a strong supporter of the environment, says he has "never been so disappointed in all my life in the pretenders to the throne from my party."
"Not one of them is being forthright in dealing with climate science," he told the Associated Press recently. "They are either trying to finesse it, or change previous positions to accommodate the far right. They are denying something that is as plain as the nose on your face."
Could the reason for this be perhaps because of the disinformation spread around by so-called "climate change denialists" funded by the oil industry?
The fact, according to a Gallup survey, is that climate change and environmental issues in general carry less political weight than they did in recent years.
It’s also a clearly partisan issue. Much higher percentages of Republicans (i.e., conservatives) now say the issue has been overblown in the media (67 percent), and they’re much less likely to connect increases in temperature to human activities. Just 31 percent worry about it at all, less than half the rate for Democrats.
Thus, the shift in overall public attitude is largely driven by the growing influence of politically conservative thought, especially the tea party. That, in turn, drives the actions and assertions of presidential hopefuls facing a gantlet of party conservatives in next year’s primary elections and caucuses.
Still, these are all excuses, if we look at it in the face. The truth is, those whom the people trust to run the government for them, are not weaned from oil just yet, not while their pockets are oozing of greens from it.