Flip Flopping Into the Mush

By Keith Kloor | August 25, 2011 7:50 am

To paraphrase a famous remark used against a certain Democrat in the 2004 Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney was for global warming before he was against it.

Romney’s waffling on climate change is sure to reinforce his already well-earned reputation for flip floppery.

UPDATE: New York magazine says the waffle is more subtle:

It’s not a total flip-flop, just a slight shift towards a philosophy that distrusts scientific evidence that doesn’t conform to the ideology of the Republican base.

UPDATE: Andy Revkin (who generously links to this post), likens Romney to a yoga contortionist.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: climate change
  • Menth

    *chortle* Republicans? More like ReDUMBlicans! LOL!

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    This doesn’t make any sense to me.  Could someone explain how this:

    “I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you’re seeing,

    Is contradicted by this:

    “Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is,” Romney said, as reported by Reuters. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”

    Or this:

    “What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to,”

    As far as I can see, these are all pretty consistent. 

  • Jarmo

    Looks like Romney wants to move closer to Perry re climate change. Poll magic 😉


  • Fred

    Romney has likely not had many, if any, hard science courses during his education.  Therefore, on something like global warming he defers to what he perceives as the prevailing zeitgeist.

    On the other hand, Perry, as an ag science major, has had some hard science courses.  He has more of an understanding about the scientific process.  He is less easily intimidated by prevailing opinion on this topic.  He better understands that scientists can be wrong and that as new research comes in the most scientifically acceptable position can change.  Perry would not be surprised that Svensmark’s cosmic ray research has been dumped on for years by scientists supporting global warming, only to emerge victorious with the newly announced CERN results.

    If you don’t already know about Sensmark’s work you can view a You Tube series on it beginning here:


    It provides a model that fits climactic variations far better than the CO2 model you guys are so ready to destroy the economy over. 

  • Marlowe Johnson



    You can’t be serious. 

  • Fred

    I’m not only serious, I’m right.  Try to prove otherwise.

  • Keith Kloor


    You may be serious, but you’re also unintentionally comical. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Alrighty then….

    I see your Svensmark and raise you one Calogovic and one Kulmala. Wonder what they have to say?


    “Currently a cosmic ray cloud connection (CRC) hypothesis is subject of an intense controversial debate. It postulates that galactic cosmic rays (GCR) intruding the Earth’s atmosphere influence cloud cover. If correct it would have important consequences for our understanding of climate driving processes. Here we report on an alternative and stringent test of the CRC-hypothesis by searching for a possible influence of sudden GCR decreases (so-called Forbush decreases) on clouds. We find no response of global cloud cover to Forbush decreases at any altitude and latitude.”


    “Our analysis shows that none of the quantities related to aerosol formation correlates with the cosmic ray-induced ionisation intensity (CRII). We also examined the contribution of ions to new particle formation on the basis of novel ground-based and airborne observations. A consistent result is that ion-induced formation contributes typically significantly less than 10% to the number of new particles, which would explain the missing correlation between CRII and aerosol formation. Our main conclusion is that galactic cosmic rays appear to play a minor role for atmospheric aerosol formation events, and so for the connected aerosol-climate effects as well.”

    Bring on the tinfoil YEEHAWWW!!!

  • Fred


    The last laugh may be mine.  Why don’t you venture over to the link to the Svensmark video.  Watch it and the succeeding ones in the series.  Maybe even read Svensmark’s book.  Then look at the CERN results coming out in today’s issue of Science and start thinking.

    My thoughts about Perry are admittedly speculative.  But he does have something of a scientific education (although with a C+ average).  Then consider Al Gore.  As I understand the only post-high school science course he took was a survey course he got a D in.  His most recent reported public speaking engagement was an incoherent profanity laden rant.  Also greatly in Perry’s favor, he is not a lawyer.  I believe he is a better bet to understand a scientific issue like global warming than either Obama or any of the other Republican candidates.

  • Fred


    Poor Calogovic and Kulmala.  I wonder what they thought after they read the CERN results in Science.

  • Marlowe Johnson


    You might be interested in what the lead author of the CERN study has to say:

    “Early results seem to indicate that cosmic rays do cause a change. The high-energy protons seemed to enhance the production of nanometre-sized particles from the gaseous atmosphere by more than a factor of ten. But, Kirkby adds, those particles are far too small to serve as seeds for clouds.At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it’s a very important first step,” he says.” 

  • Fred

    Your side has been bad mouthing this approach for some time.  This is understandable, as it provides a better explanation for observed climactic changes than assuming they are all due to variations in a trace gas comprising 4/10,000 of the atmosphere. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    I guess on your planet ‘trend’, ‘better’ and ‘explanation’ have different meanings than on mine…

  • Louise

    Fred, what proportion of the atmosphere is ammonia?

  • Greg S

    It appears that others haven’t been looking hard enough for the effect. (Calogovic gets a mention, but I don’t see any mention of Kulmala):

    Lots of commentary here:


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Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


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