Obama Mocks GOP’s Latest Talking Point on Climate Change

During a commencement speech in California, the president took aim at some lawmakers’ “I’m not a scientist” strategy.

National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
June 14, 2014, 1:55 p.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama took aim Sat­urday at the trend of Re­pub­lic­ans cit­ing their ab­sence of sci­entif­ic cre­den­tials as a reas­on to avoid ques­tions about glob­al warm­ing.

Obama even com­pared them un­fa­vor­ably to the many oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans who re­ject the over­whelm­ing ver­dict of sci­ent­ists that hu­man-in­duced cli­mate change is real.

“Today’s Con­gress … is full of folks who stub­bornly and auto­mat­ic­ally re­ject the sci­entif­ic evid­ence about cli­mate change. They’ll tell you it is a hoax, or a fad,” Obama said at a com­mence­ment ad­dress at the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia (Irvine).

“Now, their view may be wrong — and a fairly ser­i­ous threat to every­body’s fu­ture — but at least they have the brass to say what they ac­tu­ally think. There are some who also duck the ques­tion. They say — when they’re asked about cli­mate change, they say, ‘Hey, look, I’m not a sci­ent­ist.’ And I’ll trans­late that for you. What that really means is, ‘I know that man-made cli­mate change really is hap­pen­ing, but if I ad­mit it, I’ll be run out of town by a rad­ic­al fringe that thinks cli­mate sci­ence is a lib­er­al plot, so I’m not go­ing to ad­mit it,’” Obama said.

Obama didn’t name-check any spe­cif­ic law­makers. But his com­ments ar­rive two weeks after House Speak­er John Boehner de­flec­ted a ques­tion about wheth­er cli­mate change is a prob­lem by say­ing, “Listen, I’m not qual­i­fied to de­bate the sci­ence over cli­mate change.” Boehner then al­leged that EPA rules to curb power plants’ car­bon emis­sions would hurt the eco­nomy.

Boehner’s com­ment ar­rived a couple days after GOP Flor­ida Gov. Rick Scott said, “I’m not a sci­ent­ist” in de­flect­ing a ques­tion about wheth­er hu­man-in­duced cli­mate change is real.

The “not a sci­ent­ist” line isn’t en­tirely new, however. Sen. Marco Ru­bio, who has re­cently spoken a fair amount about his cli­mate skep­ti­cism, used it as far back as 2009, be­fore he was elec­ted.

Obama, in his speech Sat­urday, also an­nounced the Na­tion­al Dis­aster Re­si­li­ence Com­pet­i­tion.

Un­der the roughly $1 bil­lion pro­gram, com­munit­ies that have been hit with nat­ur­al dis­asters can com­pete for money to “help them re­build and in­crease their re­si­li­ence to fu­ture dis­asters,” ac­cord­ing to a White House sum­mary.

The money will be made avail­able through the Hous­ing and Urb­an De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment us­ing ex­ist­ing funds.

The White House said that $820 mil­lion will be avail­able for states and loc­al gov­ern­ments that were struck by a “pres­id­en­tially de­clared ma­jor dis­aster” in 2011, 2012, or 2013. States spe­cific­ally af­fected by Hur­ricane Sandy can com­pete for a sep­ar­ate pot of around $180 mil­lion to ad­dress “crit­ic­al hous­ing needs,” the White House said.

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