Candidates Question Climate Science

Third-party candidates for governor call the science of global warming “junk science” and “a scam at worst.”

Photo: Craig Miller

While Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown debate the pros and cons of the state’s global warming law (AB 32) and the ballot initiative that would suspend it (Proposition 23), two of the four “alternative” candidates interviewed this morning on KQED’s Forum program, attacked the science behind California’s climate change policy.

“I’ve become convinced that the whole thing is an exaggeration at best, and a scam at worst,” said Dale Odgen, the Libertarian Party candidate.  “The science has been fudged in order to get grants for people.  People like Al Gore have used it to become even more wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.”

Expressing a similar sentiment, Chelene Nightingale, the American Independent candidate, appeared to focus on the cause, telling host Michael Krasny that “We’re gonna have climate change. We’ve had it since the beginning of time ’til the end of time,” but that the prevailing opinion of climate scientists is,”based on junk science.”

Their views are in stark contrast to those of the majority of Californians, according to a July survey by the Public Policy Institute of California. In it, 73% of respondents said global warming is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” threat to the economy and quality of life in the state.  The survey also found that 54% of Californians believe the effects of climate change have already begun.

Their comments came on the same day that a group of scientists and policymakers delivered a new report to the desk of Obama Administration science and technology advisor John Holdren, concluding that the United States must adapt to a changing climate now and prepare for increasing impacts on urban infrastructure, food, water, human health, and ecosystems in the coming decades.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has compiled a list of documents and statements that attest to the consensus on climate change in the scientific community.

Neither Whitman nor Brown have said much about the science of climate change, choosing instead to focus on their plans regarding AB 32 and the role global warming legislation plays in the state’s economy (Brown says it’s good for the economy. Whitman says it hurts).  Both candidates say they oppose Prop 23, but Whitman has said that as governor, she would suspend AB 32 herself, under a provision written into the law.

The other two candidates for governor interviewed on Forum — Carlos Alvarez of the Peace and Freedom party and Laura Wells of the Green Party — did not discuss their views on climate science during the program.  Wells did express her support for AB 32.