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Oh, Jon Huntsman

Molly Ball reports:


Asked about man-made climate change at a Heritage Foundation talk, Huntsman said he needed to see more scientific information before he would act. 

"I don't know -- I'm not a scientist, nor am I a physicist," he said to a question that asked whether he believed global warming was human-caused and if so what he would propose to do about it. "But I would defer to science in that discussion. And I would say that the scientific community owes us more in terms of a better description or explanation about what might lie beneath all of this. But there's not enough information right now to be able to formulate policies in terms of addressing it overall." 

Huntsman added that it was "a global issue" and said the U.S. can't afford to "unilaterally disarm our economy or job creators in this country..."

Huntsman then trotted out the analogy that if 99 percent of scientists told you you have cancer, "you'd pretty much say the scientific community has spoken, let's generally respect what they have to say about it." But where that parallel would seem to argue in favor of action on global warming, Huntsman tried to make it mean the opposite: "If there's some interruption or disconnect in terms of what other scientists have to say, then let the debate play out within the scientific community." 

This dodge -- that the jury is still out on climate change and we shouldn't do anything about it until we know for sure -- is precisely what Huntsman was criticizing when he called out Rick Perry for his climate skepticism. Perry had said that the U.S. shouldn't spend money on "a scientific theory that has not been proven"; Huntsman lashed back that the Republican Party couldn't become the "anti-science party." At the time, he cited "98 out of 100 climate scientists" and the National Academy of Sciences as the basis of his conviction that humans contribute to climate change.

I'm becoming a broken record on this, but politicians represent people. If there actually were a a national constituency for Susan Collins-type Republican, then I'm sure Huntsman wouldn't be backtracking. 

But there isn't.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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