Rubio Schools CNN’s Cuomo on Uselessness of Climate Regulations

When CNN host Chris Cuomo tried to trap Sen. Marco Rubio by asking him to prove he wasn’t a climate change “denier,” Rubio responded with facts no climate alarmist wants to admit about carbon regulations: “it won't do anything for our environment.”

Attempting to get Rubio to either confess that he didn’t agree with the “consensus” or depart from his conservative supporters on the issue, Cuomo cited a discredited statistic inflating the number of scientists claiming that humans are the cause of climate change. “Why not embrace the science, though? You didn't speak to that specifically last night. The science to 99 percent of the community is clear, it’s something that’s seen as a future perspective. Why don’t you share it?”

Not falling for the obvious trap, Rubio patiently tried to explain the difference between natural climate fluctuations and man-made climate change. “The question you should be asking a policymaker is: what can we do in government to effect the rise of sea levels? And the answer is, ‘oh, pass these laws we want you to pass.’ So I asked the environmentalists and others who are supporting those laws, ‘well, how many inches of feet of sea level rise will that law prevent?’ And there answer is, it won't prevent any.”

Rubio also pointed out that these climate regulations “will do nothing to affect the environment but will have a direct and immediate impact on our economy. I think that's a terrible tradeoff.”

That "99 percent of scientists" statistic (as well as the also-commonly-cited 97 percent statistic) is misleading, and only looks at a very small number of scientists. As of Dec. 20, 2007, a report released by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee revealed more than 400 prominent scientists questioning anthropogenic climate change.

CUOMO: Very often you picture yourself and pitch yourself as, look, I'm a new generation. I see things a different way. I speak for the future of this country. 

One of the departures from that image is where you are on climate change. You spoke about it last night, you spoke about what practically can be done to make a difference with what you say is the weather. Why not embrace the science, though? You didn't speak to that specifically last night. The science to 99 percent of the community is clear, it’s something that’s seen as a future perspective. Why don’t you share it? 

RUBIO: Because, number one, okay, yeah, there is a consensus among scientists around the world that humans are contributing to what's happening in our climate. What there’s no consensus on is how much of the changes that are going on are due to human activity, in essence it's a sensitivity argument.

And as a policy maker, here's why that matters. Because these people pushing this are acting like it’s some sort of a religious tenet they want us to admit. You know, here’s the bottom line: we don’t know how much of it is due to human activity.

That's relevant in the policy world, because they are asking me to support public policies that, by the own admission of the climate activists, these climate policies that they want us to adopt would not have a measurable impact on the ecology or the environment now or for the foreseeable future. Meaning in my lifetime, yours, or my children’s. On the other hand, economists tell us that

CUOMO: You get painted denier, though, senator. You get painted as a denier.

RUBIO: Sure. By the people who want us to say yes or no. Well, they can paint me any way they want, but the bottom line is, what I won’t admit is that the policies that they want will do anything for our environment.

CUOMO: But on the science you can say yes or no.

RUBIO: It won't do anything for our environment. Yeah, but look, climate change is measurable. Is the sea level rising? You can measure that. You can measure whether sea level is rising. That's not the question you should be asking a policymaker. 

The question you should be asking a policymaker is: what can we do in government to affect the rise of sea levels? And the answer is “oh, pass these laws we want you to pass.” So I asked the environmentalists and others who are supporting those laws, “well, how many inches of feet of sea level rise will that law prevent?” And there answer is, it won't prevent any.

And then I ask the economists and they say it will have a real impact on our economy. So they are asking me to support public policies that will do nothing to affect the environment but will have a direct and immediate impact on our economy. I think that's a terrible tradeoff. I don't think that's a good way to go forward. So, anyone who stands for that is called a denier? Well, you know, these guys are off on their own crusade here, but it’s just not good public policy. 

Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella is a research analyst for the MRC's News Analysis Division