There was a particularly striking moment at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night.
Mitt Romney, accepting the nomination for president of the United States, addressed the crowd that had gathered in Tampa, Fla., for this occasion, and he made a little joke in his speech.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans,” Romney said, and paused for effect.
The crowd laughed.
“And to heal the planet,” Romney continued.
The crowd laughed again.
“My promise is to help you and your family,” he finished, to a roaring standing ovation from the audience.
In other words, “healing the planet” has little to do with helping American families.
Climate change has been supported by scientific evidence, but some Republicans have taken it as myth, a hoax. If you start typing “global warming data” on Google, the search engine will suggest search terms such as “global warming data faked” and “global warming data manipulation.” Romney’s climate joke and the audience’s reaction accentuated that feeling.
But NASA isn’t laughing. On a website dedicated solely to discussing the issue, NASA says that the global sea level rose about 17 centimeters in the past 100 years, and the rate in the last decade, is nearly double that of the last century.
Romney’s remarks caught the attention of the Internet, with bloggers such as Forbes contributor John McQuaid pointing out that just last year, Romney said he believed global warming is happening and humans are behind it.
The GOP’s policies regarding climate change have certainly cooled over the past years.
Looking at the party’s platform in 2008, where Republicans had talked about “addressing climate change responsibly,” now there is talk about the need to reform environmental regulations, and how to expand the private sector’s development of coal-fired plants—admittedly in an “environmentally responsible” way. But the fact is that in the Republican Party’s 2012 platform, climate change didn’t take the back seat—it was kicked out of the car. The platform directly mentions climate change once, only when criticizing President Barack Obama’s administration’s national security strategy:
“Finally, the strategy subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy and international health issues, and elevates ‘climate change’ to the level of a ‘severe threat’ equivalent to foreign aggression.”
The platform has several proposals to expand the country’s energy resources, including opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for the exploration and production of oil and natural gas, a proposal that has been controversial for decades and which Obama firmly opposes. The president has said in the past that he does not think it is worth it to damage the Arctic Refuge in exchange for sparse resources.
It is unknown but seems unlikely by the list of speakers released so far, that the topic of climate change or environmental issues will come up—officially at the convention. But there will be some activity as Obama’s campaign comes under fire, too.
Greenpeace, an international environmental group, is one of the groups expected to protest at the convention this week. It has been critical of Charlotte-based Duke Energy and its CEO Jim Rogers, claiming that the company’s coal-fired plants contribute to global warming. Duke and Rogers have provided the DNC with office space and other resources, reports say.