Pawlenty: Human contribution to climate change still up for debate

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Science is still unclear how much humans contribute to global climate change, but the consensus seems to be “it’s a modest amount,” former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Friday in an interview with WHO-AM’s Jan Mickelson.

“I think climate change occurs, but the bulk of it is natural, historic trends in the climate,” Pawlenty said. “There is some suggestion that humans have caused some of it, but the answer is not a government, top-down scheme.”

Pawlenty was responding to a question about his previous support of cap-and-trade legislation, including participating in a radio advertisement in 2007 with then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano urging Congress to tackle climate change.

Also in 2007, Pawlenty signed legislation in Minnesota that required the state to reduce its emissions 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent in 2050. The bill also endorsed the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, a panel charged with drafting a comprehensive greenhouse gas emission reduction plan to meet those goals.

The Pulitzer Prize winning website Politifact found Pawlenty to have completely flipped his long-held position on cap and trade in recent years, going from an adamant supporter to full-throated critic.

All the big-name potential presidential candidates have embraced climate change at one point or another, Pawlenty said Friday, but supporting cap-and-trade was a mistake.

Instead of a “a ham-fisted, unhelpful” approach to breaking the country’s addiction to foreign oil, Pawlenty said it is time to “Americanize our energy sources.”

“I’m tired of having our energy future tied to places and people and leaders who don’t share our values and don’t like the United States,” he said.

As president, Pawlenty said he would push for development of all forms of energy, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables. Several times during the interview he singled out natural gas as one of America’s best options, saying it “burns cleaner than coal and is less controversial than nuclear.”

Pawlenty’s assertions that humans play only a minor role in climate change came the same week that noted climate-change skeptics at The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project went before Congress to report that while they had set out to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming, they had in fact ended up with results “very similar to that reported by the prior groups.”

The global scientific community is overwhelmingly unified in the belief that the climate is warming as a result of human actions, among them the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

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