Sarah Palin on Climate Change: The Causes Don’t Matter

  • Published on October 3rd, 2008

When asked about climate change at the vice-presidential debate, Gov. Sarah Palin said, “I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?”

sarah palin and her many collegesGenerally speaking, if we don’t know what the cause of a given problem is, but we know there is indeed a problem, how do we devise a strategy capable of adequately addressing it? Or, in the words of Gov. Palin, “…how are we going to get there to positively affect the impact” (whatever that means).

In Thursday night’s much-ballyhooed vice-presidential debate, the issue of climate change received a bit of attention, but neither candidate was really pushed to develop their statements much beyond their original answers (Biden on his recent comment in a rope-line that the Obama-Biden ticket didn’t support clean coal and Palin on her waffling position on the causes of climate change). But the format didn’t really allow for deeper exploration either.

>>More on the vice-presidential debate at RG&B

What troubles me about Gov. Palin’s thoughts about climate change is that she often says something along the lines of, “I’m not one for believing that man’s actions are entirely responsible for global warming.” But even if the governor doesn’t give much credence to the anthropogenic causes of global warming, she still hasn’t offered any solutions to mitigating it (i.e Bjorn Lomborg-type solutions).

I have two immediate reactions Governor Palin’s position on climate change:

  1. Most climate scientists do not argue that human activity is entirely responsible for a changing climate.
  2. Where does Gov. Palin get her science that allows her to make such internally-derived claims?

Obama, McCain and Biden have supported legislation to limit climate-warming carbon emissions, and on Thursday, Palin said she too favored this, although her admission came at the very end of then answer to moderator Ifill’s question about carbon caps.

Somehow, Gov. Palin also linked increased domestic oil production to the fight against global warming. In fact, she’s already warned that we’d be in a “world of hurt” if we don’t step up domestic drilling.

“As we rely more and more on other countries that don’t care as much about the climate as we do, we’re allowing them to produce and to emit and even pollute more than America would ever stand for,” she said, when talking about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Since Governor Palin reads all of the newspapers, or at least the ones that are put in front of her, and since she spread her academic adventure across six institutions in the American West, I suppose I am simply to believe she has got it all figured out.

Or not.

What do you all think? How important is it that we know the causes of climate change, or the degree to which they are anthropogenic?

Image credit: Mike Licht/ via flickr under a Creaive Commons License

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.
  • Bernard Skaggs

    I think that stories like yours (Sarah Palin on Climate Change) are moronic at best. Sarah is not a scientist and can be easily forgiven for not understanding the issues or causes of climate change. This whole discussion on climate change wouldn't be happening if scientists explained it better for the layman and supported it with real evidence. Right now it just looks like Al Gore created this whole issue to enrich himself. His own lifestyle is very hypocritical to his supposed beliefs as shown in his movie. The whole political side of this discussion is really about power and money (cap and trade taxes). THe average joe doesn't believe for a second that politicians in Washington actually are concerned with the environment.

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  • Sarah Palin scares the crap out of me…

    This line: "…other countries that don’t care as much about the climate as we do.." made me laugh. Um, if the US cares so much more than other countries, why didn't we sign the Kyoto protocol?

  • Well, when God will save us all, it really doesn't matter… isn't that right, Sarah? I mean, if there's a fire in your house, and the room is getting warm and smokey.. no need to put it out right?

    I saw Religulous the weekend… it's a must see no matter what angle you're coming from, awesome movie- and so is this site, excellent reference, great message:

  • Damn, sorry … meant to note:

    and it IS human caused

  • The cause is critical since:

    i) if human than much can be done by reducing emissions, whereas

    ii) if not then all focus goes to other less effective strategies.

    Waffling on the cause is just another delaying tactic.

    btw, read an interesting analysis that Palin's oh so careful wording allows her to be honest about her total state of denial while seeming not to contradict McPain. Unfortunately I forget where that was.

  • Ed

    As for facts, start with the most recent IPCC report. As for Palin, she's an Inhofe with lipstick.

  • sol vason

    I believe there is global warming even though the temperature has dropped for the lkast 15 yearrs. I believe man, alone, is making the temperature go up and cosmic rays and sun spots have nothing to do with it. I believe the Sun has nothing to do with temperatures on the earth. It burns at exactly the same temperature milenium after milenium – and will do so until one day it will go poof and dissappear. I believe in science and I believe that when Scientists are believers then they will produce believable science. We should only allow Scientists who are true believers do Science. The others are false Scientists.