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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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May 27, 2008 2:42 PM

Rossi warms to climate change

Posted by David Postman

I see in the P-I that Dino Rossi is going to battle Gov. Chris Gregoire for the environmental vote. (He’s already got a hybrid campaign SUV.) It’s going to be tough for Rossi to overcome the Democrats’ traditional alliance with the environmental movement.

And there's no doubt that Democrats will play on Rossi's particularly close connections to the Building Industry Association of Washington. The BIAW is the group the environmentalists love to hate. The BIAW opposes the state and King County’s efforts to tighten environmental regulations as a way to combat global warming. The builder’s group called one of this year’s major climate change bills “the foundation for more enviro lawsuits.”

In a global warming report sent to its members, the BIAW listed a number of things it was doing to oppose the state’s efforts to reduce global warming. The list includes potential litigation to stop the Department of Ecology’s climate-change rulemaking, intervening in environmentalists’ lawsuits, and “Endorsing Dino Rossi for governor.”

But Rossi has had a recent epiphany on global warming. The P-I reports that “Rossi said there's no doubt the planet is warming.”

Rossi was asked about global warming at the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce in March. There he said “there’s still a lot of debate going on in this.”

I know a lot of people say, ‘Why bother with long-term planning if Al Gore says the world’s going to end in 10 years or 15 years. But there are a lot of scientists who disagree, so we’ll see how this debate goes.

Two weeks ago, Rossi wouldn’t say whether he thought global warming was real. He was quick to say it didn’t matter whether it was real because it was important to clean up the air regardless of whether there is scientific consensus on climate change. He told Times reporter Andrew Garber:

It doesn’t matter whether you believe in one scientist or another. The bottom line is we need to make reasonable plans to reduce carbon emissions and make improvements in our environment.

Despite repeated questions, Rossi refused to say whether he personally believed global warming was real, saying, “I’m not a scientist.”

That puts Rossi somewhere between the BIAW and Republican presidential candidate John McCain. McCain believes global warming is real and that there is a strong scientific consensus about the issue. He thinks most of the world agrees with that assessment. I asked McCain earlier this month how he responds to leaders in his own party who won’t say whether global warming is a fact.

Well, I’ll be glad to continue the debate on climate change. We will continue to accumulate scientific data. NASA, I think, has proven to most Americans and most people in this world as we’ve seen pictures of the globe and the receding ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic and the profound changes that have taken place.

McCain uses a similar line to Rossi’s about how it really doesn’t matter what you think about global warming as long as you believe more environmental protection is needed.

I asked Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the BIAW, what he thought of Rossi’s global warming position.

“That’s fine,” he said. “He has his own perspective.” McCabe doesn’t think Rossi will be able to win much environmental support. “No matter what he does it’ll never be enough for them,” he said.

Rossi and McCabe agree in their opposition to this year’s major legislative action on global warming. House Bill 2815 set up goals for carbon reduction, but does not fund those efforts. Gregoire signed the bill and has called it a major accomplishment.

Rossi, according to spokeswoman Jill Strait, would not have signed the bill. Strait said Rossi believes “we should focus on rewarding people, not punishing them.”

The bill she just signed aims to use the power of the government to force people to cut vehicle miles traveled down to the level of 1980 in just ten years, and that is only the first step.

Dino’s vision is based on personal freedom and engaging Washington’s creative economy. His plan provides incentives for people to use new, clean technology.

After the jump, read more from Rossi on global warming.

Garber talked with Rossi earlier this month about McCain’s plan to combat global warming and climate change in general. Here are some notes from that interview.

Q: Personally, do you believe global warming is occurring?

A: It doesn’t matter whether you believe in one scientist or another. The bottom line is we need to make reasonable plans to reduce carbon emissions and make improvements in our environment. Everybody should agree on that.

Q: Yeah, but do you believe global warming is occurring?

A: I’m not a scientist, are you? I don’t believe all scientists actually agree on climate change. But it really shouldn’t matter because our goals should be the same. Let’s conserve our resources and move ahead with ensuring we have a clean environment.

Q: Is it fair to say you’re not convinced global warming is occurring?

A: I don’t think it’s fair to say that. What is fair to say is what I told you.

Q: I’m not clear what you’re saying, other than it’s beside the point whether it’s occurring.

A: You should be clear. What I said is not all scientists agree on this. And I’m not a scientist but I don’t think that really matters. We should all have a similar goal of cleaning the earth.

Q: That question aside. How do you feel about McCain’s plan?

Rossi said he hadn’t read about all of McCain’s plan, just the cap and trade proposal.

A: I think that it would be better done at a federal level. If we do this, whether it’s federal or in some sort of compact, we need to make sure it recognizes hydro is a renewable clean source of energy. …. We should be getting credit for that.

Q: What about McCain’s target of 60 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2050?

A: I don’t have the science on that to tell you about that. But we should include hydro power in that.

Q: Well, do you agree or disagree with goals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions?

A: I don’t disagree with that. It’s one of the reasons we had such a big section in my transportation plan.

Rossi said that one of the best ways to reduce emissions is to relieve traffic congestion.

If you truly do care about carbon emissions and do care about the environment, then you should be for congestion relief.

Q: Circling back to McCain’s proposal, he talks about a 60 percent reduction. Part of the way he talks about doing that is through this cap and trade system. Could you support that?

A: I wouldn’t rule it out as long as hydro power is included.

Q: When people say, 'Dino Rossi, do you believe global warming is occurring or not?', your answer is?

A: Whether you believe one scientist or another we can all agree that we can reduce emissions and that we can all individually do things that will make a difference.

Q: Why isn’t it a fair question to ask what you personally believe?

A: I’m not a scientist.

Q: McCain isn’t a scientist and he states his opinion.

A: Right, but there are scientists on both sides of the issue. No matter where you are, we’re past that debate. The key is, what can we do to actually clean up the environment. …

Q: But if it’s not clear to you, why..?

A: What’s the worst case scenario? We’ve got a clean environment. That’s the way I look at it.


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Posted by P

3:22 PM, May 27, 2008

Global warming is over, haven't you read the latest UN report which states that the earth's tempetures have leveled off?

As for humans being the cause of the past global warming, this too is complete speculation on the part of those who blame human development to global warming. In fact, over 10,000, mostly senior environmental, biological and chemical scientists have recently come out saying that global warming is most likely caused by the sun, not humans.

Posted by JimD

5:24 PM, May 27, 2008

Rossi would come out in favor of a 10% sales tax increase if he thought there was political hay in it.
What a jackazz.

Posted by Jan

9:05 PM, May 27, 2008

Dino Rossi is not somewhere between John McCain and the BIAW on global warming. He's somewhere between the BIAW and a big laugh on a topic he's obviously not taking very seriously.

His transportation plan does not reduce congestion. If you doubt that, just ask him to show you the data.

He does promote road projects designed to ease congestion (paid for by a general funds already projected to be in the red), but he doesn't have any plan to reduce congestion or make a dent in global warming.

Posted by Lou Guzzo

11:08 PM, May 27, 2008

Science, Rossi's ancient enemy

Posted by AD

11:49 PM, May 27, 2008

JimD is just a blind partisan.

Rossi could promote a 10% increase in the sales tax (which Democrats would normally support) but then the Democrats would oppose it just because Rossi's for it. JimD thinks Rossi's political. Oh, and JimD, of course, is not political in the slightest. :D

Regardless of any facts or policies--whether it's global warming, taxes, budgets, social issues, anything--partisan Democrats, especially the internet kids like JimD, will ALWAYS oppose and belittle Rossi just because he's a Republican.

Shouldn't we move past this? Should we maintain a political monopoly just for the sake of having a political monopoly?

Posted by Bothsides

5:57 AM, May 28, 2008

Lou....Uh science, what science.........

Posted by Postman

8:55 AM, May 28, 2008

Lou, are you suggesting that science does prove the existence of global warming? I didn't know you were a believer.

Posted by R. Travaille

9:18 AM, May 28, 2008

Well they Used to say that Global Warming was caused in a large part by the destruction of Tropical Rain Forest. However when it comes to Palm Oil for the Bio-Diesl Plant being constructed here in Wa state its ok to destroy the Rain Forest in Indoesnia! Go Figure! But hey Al Gore the fmr Vice Pres isn't a Scientst either but look what it got him by being a Mouth Piece for the environmentalsit Community!

Posted by Bothsides

11:51 AM, May 28, 2008

The CO2 / humans are causing global warming scam is a huge attempt for the enviro whackos to get everything they want. That Rossi and McCain are on board is pandering to that enviro vote. Like I said to Lou, what science, there isn't scientific proof that we are the cause, error on the side of caution okay, but don't jump off the cliff.

Posted by JimD

9:56 PM, May 28, 2008

Science absolutely proves the planet is warming.
There simply is no credible SCIENCE to the contrary.
So shame on Rossi for suggesting that it's still up in the air.
It puts him in a more cowardly position than McCain or Bush, who aren't afraid to offend the last flat-earth holdouts with the truth.
The practical problem with Rossi's pitch is that simply cleaning the environment for the sake of cleanliness won't provide nearly the incentive necessary to lead the world in the direction it must go.
He's trying to place himself right of McCain, and McCain is just barely hanging on to reality with his market-driven approach to reducing carbon emissions.
Rossi's pandering may impress those in right-wing la-la land, but it's an insult to anyone knowledgeable who takes the issue seriously.
The tone and disingenuous nature of his remarks to Postman in the above interview portray a disturbing degree of hostility and arrogance.
If that's "partisan", so be it.
But you might want to check out the vast majority of republicans who may not think we should take a pro-active approach to reducing carbon emissions, but aren't afraid to state what science has clearly proven - the earth is warming at an alarming rate.
Too bad Rossi doesn't have the integrity to stand up and admit what he surely knows to be true.

Posted by Bothsides

10:00 AM, May 29, 2008

Science has proven that our climate has changed, not once, but several times. So there is no warming at an ALARMING rate. How can we pretend to know all about this planet with the short time we've been on it, and the limited resources we've had to study it! The amount of people on this planet is what will "make or break" it, period. I think the US is at 1.7 children per couple, we're doing our part.

Posted by JimD

9:06 PM, May 29, 2008

That's like saying we don't know if evolution exists because we haven't been here long enough.
The science behind measuring the history of the earth's temperature is indisputable - in part with glacial core samples that measure CO2 levels during various temperature fluctuations.
The earth's atmosphere is as thin as a coat of paint on a basketball.
The atmosphere holds carbon discharges from burned fossil fuels.
That increased carbon content reduces the atmosphere's ability to discharge heat away from the planet.
The earth's temperature has increased exponentially the last 60 years commensurate with fossil fuel use.
At the current trajectory, the consequences will be catastrophic in our children's lifetime.
Those are facts.
Now, how much is the actually the result of man's interference with the delicate balance of atmospheric chemistry, versus cyclical changes that would occur anyway, and whether we CAN or SHOULD do anything about it, is another question.
But anyone who wants to lead a state, yet dismisses science and perhaps the leading transcendental issue of our time, isn't anymore fit for office than someone who deny's evolution - or promotes other faith-based ignorance on a populace that deserves better.
Facts are facts, and Rossi has a history of disputing them.

Posted by Bothsides

8:12 AM, May 30, 2008

Would that be the THEORY of evolution you're referencing as opposed to the FACT of evolution? Junk science = junk results. Scientists were telling us in the 70's that the next ice age is coming. There's still plenty of debate on this subject, so I will stick with my opinion that humans aren't that smart about the earth yet.

Posted by JimD

9:18 AM, May 30, 2008

Well, some humans aren't as smart, for sure.
For example, some don't know that "theory" in science is defined as something that survives rigorous testing that concludes it is fact.
Gravity, for example, is also only a "theory" by scientific definition.
It's a "fact" that things fall to the center of the earth or similar mass.
The reasons are considered a "theory".
Did you know that?
The "theory" of evolution is supported by overwhelming science, including carbon dating and fossils that "prove" transitional development over millions of years.
Creationism is not rank as theory.
It is simply a fable - from a great work of literature - with absolutely no scientific evidence to support it.
Similarly, the earth's temperature changes are documented by indisputable scientific evidence - including by the way, a correlation between warming and previously high atmospheric carbon content.
Hundreds-of-thousands of years worth of evidence are preserved in ancient glaciers.
Not only is the current warming proved as fact, the evidence proves similar high carbon content tracks past warming.
And we are currently throwing unpreceented levels of carbon emission into the atmosphere.
Global warming isn't some "gee-whiz I bet the earth's warming" theory, like one might develop while sitting in a chair staring at the ceiling.
It's a "scientific theory" proved and tested (repeatedly and in many different ways) by concrete evidence.
Those who want to remain ignorant about global warming, and even what "theory" means in science, are certainly free to do so.
Heck, you can believe the earth is flat and the moon is made of green cheese if you want.
But when one promotes this kind of ignorance in public, or irresponsibly suggests it should govern political policy - like Rossi - I'd suggest getting used to the idea that those better educated (and perhaps more concerned about future generations) will challenge it.
Now - I frankly don't think Rossi is so dumb as to not know global warming exists.
But I do think he lacks the integrity and political courage to handle the responsibility of Governor, as evidenced by his willingness to deny the science of global warming in order to win the support of the ignorant fringe who scorn science, intellectualism and higher learning in general.

Posted by Bothsides

12:43 PM, May 30, 2008

Here's one of those "ignorant" people for you...

BTW, I said climate change, because I'm not convinced the current cycle will continue as warming, and since there is no concrete proof that it isn't a natural cycle of the earth, I'll wait to panic and proclaim the sky is falling until the FACTS support it.

Posted by Bothsides

2:31 PM, May 30, 2008

BTW, how wonderful that you can cut and paste from Wikipedia..........

Posted by JimD

5:59 PM, May 30, 2008

No, those are my own words, based on my own research and understanding...but thanks for the compliment.
If they are similar to some on-line consensus, it's because they represent the simple, undisputable facts.
This isn't rocket science or some mysterious concept.
Even George Bush understands carbon emissions' relationship to global warming, so how intellectually challenging can it be?

Posted by JimD

7:22 PM, May 30, 2008

That's an excellent article (referenced above).
But the good Doctor is raising the definition of "consensus" to include agreement not just on the general premise, but the specific results of studies that reach the same general conclusion with different methods or results.
We could similarly discount the "theory" of weight gain by comparing competing exercise and nutrition studies that offer different conclusions and opposing sub-theories.
But we'd all still agree - too much food and not enough exercise makes one fat.
Similarly, his premise doesn't dispute global warming or carbon emission influence per se, just the manner in which various research has reached competing conclusions.
What's important is the sum of all these parts.
And the article does not dispute THAT consensus.
It just admonishes scientists and policy makers for using the word "consensus" too loosely.
Point taken - scientific "consensus", at least, should be reserved for the general premise on which there is specific consensus, not the differing results that collectively prove it.
But me still thinks the professor protests the word 'consensus" too much (in part by including some junk science) which allows his piece to be mis-read as challenging the existence of global warming, rather than challenging the word's application to more esoteric specifics which do not change the overall theory of global warming.

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