The news: It's concerning enough that 1 in 4 Americans are skeptical about climate change. But when a member of that group happens to be a potential presidential nominee — and someone who considers himself "ready" for the presidency — it's a bit more alarming.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sat down with ABC's This Week on Sunday to address the rumors of his running for president in 2016. Though Rubio declined to make an official confirmation of his plans, he noted that he believed he was qualified enough to run. "Most importantly, I think a president has to have a clear vision of where the country needs to go and clear ideas about how to get it there," he said.
Apparently Rubio's vision does not include addressing or even acknowledging climate change.
"I don't agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what's happening in our climate. Our climate is always changing," Rubio said. "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That's what I do not. And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy."
The comments on climate change start around the 5:30 mark.
Except science. While Rubio may not believe man-made climate change is real, it's really not a matter of opinion, but science. The vast majority of the scientific community, along with organizations such as the UN and the U.S. government, are in consensus that while climate change is a natural process, man-made contributions have a real, devastating effect.
Fewer than 3% of climate scientists believe that "humans are playing a relatively minimal role in global warming." If you have trouble visualizing that figure, let John Oliver and Bill Nye the Science Guy do it for you:
Why this is important: Rubio is certainly not alone in doubting the veracity of man-made climate change. But it's important to keep in mind that this is a man with his eye on the highest office in the land. He may not be the front-runner in current GOP presidential polls, but it's still a wide-open field, and with the support of some very conservative groups, Rubio has the potential to surge forward.
"Groups backing Rubio and fellow Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky lead the pack of potential Republican presidential hopefuls in spending money and investing in possible campaigns ahead of the 2016 race," reports Reuters.
And questions of climate change are especially relevant to Rubio, who hails from a state that could be severely affected in the future. According to a new report by the National Climate Assessment, Miami is "one of the cities most vulnerable to severe damage as a result of rising sea levels. Water in southeast Florida is expected to rise by as much as two feet by the year 2060."
Rubio's contention also comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking to implement new regulations on carbon emissions by coal plants. But instead of tackling the climate change debate with actual numbers and statistics as the White House has done, Rubio is simply asserting that he doesn't "agree" with scientists — which is great, considering he has no formal science training and a background in political science and law. Hopefully he can come up with better arguments when the presidential debates come along.