Providing written statements to the independent website ScienceDebate, both president Obama and his GOP challenger Mitt Romney acknowledged that human-caused global warming is happening.
Partially sponsored by the National Academies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ScienceDebate has long held that questions about science be included in televised presidential debates. Realizing there is little chance of that in the next debate on October 3rd, the website prepared a written list of 14 questions addressing the top science-based issues facing the country today. The questions were selected from suggestions by thousands of "scientists, engineers, and concerned citizens" and refined with the help of leading scientific and engineering organizations to represent the most important science policy issues. Among the list were questions of energy policy, food, fresh water, ocean health, natural resources and, of course, climate change.
While both candidates agreed that anthropogenic climate change is happening, not surprisingly they differed on what should be done about it.
In his 484-word answer, Romney made clear he opposed any carbon tax or cap-and-trade approach to mitigating global warming. Instead he suggested pursuing "no regrets" policies the would limit emissions and still be beneficial to the economy should climate change somehow "not come to pass." Romney provided little in the way of specifics as to what those policies might be.
"Ultimately, the science is an input to the public policy decision;" Romney said in his written statement, "it does not dictate a particular policy response."
For his part, Obama pointed to his actions in his first term and his agenda going forward. Among his achievements Obama cited aggressive vehicle efficiency standards, renewable energy investments, the proposed rule allowing the EPA to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, and the hard-fought agreement from COP17 last year in Durban, South Africa calling for all major international greenhouse gas emitters to face equal obligation to cut those emissions by 2020. (See Andrew Burger's post from September 4 on the accomplishments of the Obama administration in energy and efficiency.)
"Climate change is one of the biggest issues of this generation," Obama said in his 181-word response. "And we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits."
Thanks to DonkeyHotey for image resource