Obama vs. Romney 101: 4 ways they differ on climate change

As recently as 2008, presidential candidates openly sparred over their own plans for dealing with climate change. This year it's such a touchy topic that both sides prefer instead to talk about energy policy – a kind of proxy for climate threat.

Here are four ways the candidates differ on climate change: Is climate change a problem caused by humans? Should the US adopt market-based approaches to curbing greenhouse gases? Has the Environmental Protection Agency gone too far? Is the Obama administration waging a "war on coal"?

David J. Phillip/AP/File
Exhaust rises from smokestacks in front of piles of coal at NRG Energy's W.A. Parish Electric Generating Station in Thompsons, Texas, in this March 16, 2011, file photo.

1. Is climate change a real problem – and is it manmade?

Susan Walsh/AP/File
President Obama makes a statement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 18, 2009.

Although they were once close at least in recognizing climate change as a problem – and in seeking a market-based approach to curbing plant emissions – President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney now come at the issue from sharply different perspectives.

In his 2010 book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," former Massachusetts Governor Romney said that he believed that climate change is occurring, and that humans have a role in causing it. "The reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore." At a June 3, 2011, town meeting in Manchester, N.H., he said: "I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer.... and that humans contribute to that."

But responding to a question in Pittsburgh just four months later, Romney said: "My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us."

In contrast, Mr. Obama told world leaders at a UN summit on climate change in 2009 that "the security and stability of each nation and all peoples – our prosperity, our health, and our safety – are in jeopardy." He added: "And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”

Obama has held the position that climate change is caused by humans, especially by fossil energy burning, since at least his time in the US Senate, when he and 39 other senators in 2006 wrote President Bush calling for government-imposed limits on heat-trapping gas emissions. Obama in January 2007 joined Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona in co-sponsoring a major climate change bill. He also pledged to mobilize an international coalition to help curb carbon emissions.

1 of 4

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.