Tim Pawlenty went full climate denier on Tuesday, embracing fringe claims that the vast international consensus on the issue is “bad science.”
“So there is climate change, but the reality is the science of it indicates that most of it, if not all of it, is caused by natural causes,” Pawlenty told FOX News. “And as to the potential human contribution to that, there’s a great scientific dispute about that very issue.”
Pawlenty added that “until recently, people were worried as much about global cooling,” a reference to an exhaustively debunked myth that’s floated around conservative circles for years.
While Pawlenty’s words are par for the course in today’s GOP, his rapid tilt towards an extreme anti-science position may be the most dramatic policy reversal of any candidate in the primary field on any recent issue. He made combating climate change a top priority as governor of Minnesota, proposing the strongest renewable energy laws in the country and expending considerable political capital to advance his agenda on the issue.
His comments come as two of his top rivals, Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman, are under fire for sticking to their guns and defending climate science, even if they no longer endorse the same legislative solutions that they once did.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.