Palin Changes Position on Global Warming – Then Denies It

  • Published on September 16th, 2008

Now says she believes human actions are partly to blame – and that she never changed her position

Alaska Governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin performed what some might call a ‘flip-flop,’ in regards to her position on the causes of global warming. Miraculously, Palin is claiming that this has been part of her position all along.

[social_buttons]In an interview with ABC News’ Charlie Gibson that aired last Thursday and Friday, Palin said that she believes “man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming/climate change….” When Gibson challenged Palin on what is clearly a sharp change in her position, Palin recoiled and said, “…show me where I have ever said that there’s absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any affect, or no affect, on climate change.”


But in her most definitive recent statement about the causes of global warming, Palin said, “I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”

This is not a nuanced-shift in the technical specifics of some obscure policy. This is a drastic change in a major policy question that is apparent to even the most casual political observer. And while I applaud Gov. Palin for apparently coming around viz. climate change (even if it is purely pandering), it is politically dangerous for her to be denying that she ever changed her position. I can’t imagine Palin’s switch will be something the opposition and the media will accept without further inquiry and investigation.

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.
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  • Wow, those two can never make their minds up on ANYTHING! Always changing their views on things, sheesh!

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  • What Rick said:

    Still, I think it is a stretch to say that she reversed her opinion or flip-flopped. The comments are not synonymous, but they are not antonymous either.

    “I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.” – She doesn’t personally believe that man caused global warming.

    “man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming/climate change” – She admits that there is a possibility that we contribute.

    Gov. Palin never flip flopped, but I'm very bias. I would like to see the greenies just once address the FACT that environmentalism is a cloak under which communism hides. More government, more control, more socialism/communism…

  • sinco

    I don't understand how no one has commented on foxnewslady's absurd comments … maybe everyone else realizes that it's sarcasm and I'm the only one who thinks she's serious.

    First, how can you blame China and India as developing countries, when rich North America can't even invest in the infrastructure to significantly reduce OUR greenhouse gas emissions.

    Second, please explain how you came to the conclusion that volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are caused by global warming … WTF.

    Third, George W Bush … best president ever? Really?

    Forth, the congress has only been a democratic majority for two years … this financial situation is certainly not from federal decisions made since then.

    I hope this helps you realize how ridiculous your comments are … although I doubt it will … sigh

  • Sarah palin does not support global warming! she lied to us all.She doesn’t even think are polar are danger.she can’t just change her mind like that.I mean think about people of America.McCain pick her because he desperate.

  • Gigi Jones

    This is a flip-flop! It is not questionnable as to whether or not it is a flip-flop. If you want to know if it is, just substitute any Democrat’s name for Palin, and you will determine that it is a flip-flop. Just because a Repug said it, doesn’t mean it isn’t a flip-flop.
    Flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop!!!

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  • one4REALchange

    she’s such a pathelogical liar! she lied about the teleprompter not working so that she could pretend she was winging it!

    yet, a whole group of newscaster sitting behind her watch it roll, wih underlined words when she was to give emphasis, and even the term “pause” and a phonetic spelling of nuclear.

    such a liar! lies about everything all the time!

  • dbcalo

    As a side note to people talking about the IPCC, the panel must reach a 100% consensus on each and every word that is placed in the document. This is done by world governments on reports drafted by scientists. So any anti-climate change government could block such statements as "global warming is happening."

    There are a few videos about how this process works online.

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  • Eve Ensler says, "I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world."

    I'm worried!

  • Bryan

    Rick, you cannot definitively say global warming is anthropomorphic. However, through experimental modeling we can conclude that man does contribute significantly to climate change. Inductive reasoning will never prove a conclusion, it will only guarantee a high degree of certainty.

  • Mack

    I do not think she is capable of understanding global warming. She has to take a position which will appeal majority of republican voters, which she did.

    Come to think of, she may end up as our president in next 2-3 years if something happens to John Maccain if he is elected.

    She has the carrisma and sex appeal to attract voters but not the brains to run the country.

  • “man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming/climate change…”

    The key word here, is “Can” as she goes on to say what she feels on the topic:

    “I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”

    Much like I would say “Man may have something to do with it, but I don’t think that is accurate” or:

    “Socialism may fix global warming, however I’m not one who would attribute Global Warming to being a man-made problem.”

  • Palin's past productivity on environmental issues should show where she stands. Man and nature are both contributors to global warming. Now, what can be done about it? Educate and vote?

  • Brock

    Global warming was invented to make G Bush look bad? Wow! That is ignorant. It's been around a lot longer than that, pal. The idea of glbal warming was around back when W. was snorting coke and skipping out on the armed forces. Read about it.

  • Brian

    Volcanic eruptions(in particular Mount St. Helens) has given off more carbon emissions and contributed to global warming more than all of the cars driven in the past 20 years. What she is saying is that although mankind has played a part in global warming, it is a miniscule part comparatively.

    I do not support her in any way and I believe she was most likely the worst possible VP candidate for McCain to choose. But I thought I would just clear up what is perceived as ignorance from the opposing view of global warming.

  • JIff Jones

    Wow, her and McBush are like two peas in a pod arent they! LOL


  • Kevin Binz

    Palin's originial statement: “I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.” In other words, she does not think humanity is the primary cause of global warming.

    Palin's interview statement: "man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming/climate change". She believes that man may have played a role in global warming.

    What inconsistency?

  • Palin's twin, seperated at birth:

  • Chris

    Global warming is part of a natural cycle. But the speed of the change is not. In the past it took hundreds of thousands of years for earth's sesmic activity (volcanos) to produce enough CO2 to trigger warming effects. What man has done is accelerate the process. It's science. It is proven. What took 10 millenia to occur is taking place within 2 centuries. Forgot the language or terms used…to suggest that the use of fossil fuel is not a major contributing factor to global warming is equilivant to saying we are only in a mental recession. With the transfer of wealth from the US to contries like India and China have become more industrialized and cars have become affordable so now they are contributing more than ever but that's so new it's a vacuous argument. And Bush the greatest president??? He said the economic fundamentals were sound a year ago when things were turning really bad. It's correct he had nothing to do with Freddie Mac…he didn't want to regulate anything. And his claim that Iraq's oil revenues would pay for the war worked just like he said it would didn't it? He will be the best US president in history for Iran's interests. They are making out like bandits by our wiping out the one thing that kept them in check and kept Al Qaeda out of Iraq. We did in a few weeks what Iran couldn't do in 10 years. And calling someone who actually knows enough to tell it like it an elitist is morbidly humorous. Can't win on issues? Start name calling. Oh brother…..We have the leaders we deserve. I'll bet many will think I am for Obama. If you did then you are part of the problem in that you make conclusions with only some of the facts. To me the two parties are flip sides of the same coin.

  • George LoBuono

    Palin is just another puppet for the rich. Big oil controls her. She wants to privatize social security, put creationism in clasroons and McCain plans to tax your employer's contribution to your health insurance. Bottom line: your pay goes down or you lose health insurance altogether.

  • Palin is a radical neocon. She wants more weapons, more political power, more war, more death penalty, more oil. She is also a fanatical religious – against abortion, against gays, against the theory of evolution and she is unilateralist, convinced that America, with the blessing of God, may rule the world. She ignores the crisis, unemployment, the astronomical deficit, and as foreign policy, zero. I mean, if elected, America would have 4 more years of it … or worse. A nightmare and a disaster for the West and the World.

  • @Rick: Fair enough. You are correct in your assertion that the comments are neither synonyms nor antonyms; much like the causes of global warming are neither entirely because of human action nor entirely cyclical. I would argue that the "truth" lies somewhere in between, and I do not claim to know where exactly that is.

    As an aside, you will notice I didn't write that she "flip-flopped," but rather, that some might say she has done so. Personally I can't stand the "flip-flop" language, and I see it as problematic that somehow our society now values strength in conviction, over contingency, pragmatism and the ability to learn new things and adapt. I was going to explore that idea further in the post, but wanted to keep it short and focused.

  • Patch

    "It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is." –Bill Clinton, during his 1998 grand jury testimony on the Monica Lewinsky affair.

    Sooo…the right sees it as clarifying her position while the left sees it as a flip-flop, and the issue of fixing the problem is still mute. But at least the right has finally acknowledged global warming/climate change.

  • Rick

    Still, I think it is a stretch to say that she reversed her opinion or flip-flopped. The comments are not synonymous, but they are not antonymous either.

    “I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.” – She doesn't personally believe that man caused global warming.

    “man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming/climate change” – She admits that there is a possibility that we contribute.

    As for myself, I believe that it is possible that mankind affects the climate, but I personally have not been convinced that we are the significant cause of "global warming" – there are MANY factors, of which we may be a very small part.

  • foxnewslady

    Father is right! A small percentage of global warming comes from human beings. If it does, reprimand and stop the CHINESE & India. They are the biggest contributors to the man made Global Warming. After alot of research, many theories,etc. We have concluded, we are in a CYCLE, no different than the earth has experienced in recorded history. Volcanoes, Earthquakes, etc. are all to be considered. What caused the Volcano in the Indian Ocean to blow 4 times in 1890? Global Warming? Read about Krakow, which is said to be building up for another explosion. Global warming was invented by the Democratic, socialistic, elitist, left wingers, hoping to Blame G.Bush again. haha. Bush will go down in history as one of the greatest Presidents in History. He has nothing to do with Freddie Mae, Freddie Mac, they are controlled by the democratic majority Congress and the DNC to provide a home ownership to Everyone? Another elitist propagandist foolery!!

  • Rick, she went from saying she wouldn't attribute it to man-made to saying it is possible. And she is hiding her obvious shift by saying that she never said with 100 percent certainty that man had nothing to do with it to saying that it could. If I may, Palin said:

    "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."

    That quote is not and cannot be considered synonymous with:

    "man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming/climate change…."

  • Rick

    This is old news, dude; the interview was last week.

    I agree with the comment above – she did not "change position". She had earlier said that she didn't believe that global warming is man-made. Then last week she said that it was possible. She did not say that she now believes it is man-made, just that the possibility is there. Guess what – even the IPCC never said that it IS man-made, just that it is "very likely".

    Didn't they teach the definition of words in journalism class?