Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

CO-02 Candidates & Climate Change

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Last week, CO-02 Republican candidate Scott Starin told the Colorado Independent that humans weren’t forcing the climate system.  Jared Polis, the Democratic candidate in the race, justifiably took Starin to task over his comments.  The issue has now been covered by the Boulder Daily Camera.  Interestingly, Starin backtracked from his comments when talking with the Camera:

Starin, 47, said he may have overstated his views to the Independent, saying Tuesday he simply doesn’t know for sure what the relationship is between the burning of fossil fuels and rising temperatures around the world.

Then, Starin threw out a tired right-wing attack, calling Polis “arrogant”.  There are many difference between the Polis-Starin race and the Obama-McCain race, but calling the Democrat arrogant (or elite) isn’t one of them.  Voters are tired of the silly personal attacks.  The rabid right-wing base laps it up, but personal attacks don’t translate to good governing once in office.

What Jared is doing, and what more politicians should do, is he’s basing his approach to climate change on the actual research done on the subject.  That research has pointed in one direction for over 30 years now: the climate is being forced by anthropogenic activities.  The big problem is the climate is responding on a time-scale that is unprecedented in history.  There are cases in which greenhouse gas concentrations likely rose to similar concentration values, but the time span it took to do so are much, much longer than what we’re witnessing today.

The case is quite simple: global climate models that do not take into account rising GHG concentrations do not reproduce today’s climate – those climates are significantly cooler.  Global climate models that do take into account GHG concentrations more accurately reproduce today’s climate.  I say more accurately because the models used to produce the 2007 IPCC Report actually underestimate the effects on the climate – they show cooler Northern Hemispheric temperatures than what we’ve witnessed the past two years.  Model solutions diverged from the actual climate in the opposite way that climate change deniers like Scott Starin and other ideologically pure conservatives say they do.

An additional important difference between Starin and Polis is their preferred method of producing energy in the 21st century.  Jared Polis wants to bring renewable energy technologies to market so they can produce a larger proportion of our energy portfolio.  He wants to burn fewer fossil fuels, recognizing their harmful impact on both the environment and our security.  Jared has a ‘can do’ attitude.  Starin is exactly the opposite.  He wants to wait for the magical moment when renewable technologies are mature enough that they can produce all of our energy, at which time he might advocate for their deployment.  He wants to keep burning fossil fuels, which would continue to wreck havoc on the climate system and threaten our security.  Scott has a ‘can’t do’ attitude, like many other conservatives.

Oh, the comments after the Camera article are comedic.

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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