Opinion: Marco Rubio, like too many Republicans, is all wet on climate change

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Marco Rubio wants to be president of the United States this century. Much of coastal Florida probably won’t be underwater until next century. As with most political careers, timing is everything.

Rubio appeared Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” and offered up this politico-pseudo-scientific analysis of global warming:

“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.”


And just to show the Koch brothers that his heart belongs to those two Daddy Warbucks, he added: “I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.”

Ostrich, meet Marco Rubio.

Such sentiments, of course, are designed to shore up Rubio’s support among the GOP crazies -- uh, sorry, tea party types -- who began to doubt his conservative cred after he pushed for immigration reform, as my colleague Brian Bennett reported. And also to keep the money spigot open from conservatives such as the Koches.

So, “mission accomplished”?

Um, maybe, maybe not.

You see, the news from scientists -- you know, the folks who actually study this stuff because they know something about it, and not politicians who use it to score cheap political points -- just keeps getting in the way. On Monday came headlines such as this: “Glacial Region’s Melt Past ‘Point of No Return,’ NASA Says.” And this: “West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s Collapse Triggers Sea Level Warning.”

Yep, more ice melting. More water pouring into the world’s oceans. More water that will also pour into cities such as, ahem, Miami Beach -- which, as Rubio probably knows, is in Florida.

Now, I recently wrote about an east Antarctic ice sheet that scientists fear will also melt soon and start dumping even more water into the oceans. Some of you readers made unkind, derisive remarks.

But hey, they laughed at Noah too.

To be fair, Rubio didn’t go off the deep end. He didn’t deny that the climate is changing. He just said it’s not our fault, so why not adopt Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman approach: “What, me worry?”


Or, to put it in terms the Koch brothers would approve of: “Let’s make money while the sun is still shining.” Because, you know, there will be big bucks in building seawalls and dikes and the like as the water laps at our coastal cities in 100 years or so.

Still, it’s truly a mystery to me why so many Republicans cling to such a position. We all know the Republican Party says it is the “party of business.” But why must that mean it’s the “party of only the businesses we have now”?

Forget debating who or what is causing climate change. Accept that it is changing and that that is bad news for humankind. There’s plenty of money to be made in the businesses that will spring up from adopting sensible policies that address the problem. Sure, you may like oil, but isn’t solar and wind power a business too? Burning fossil fuels doesn’t just contribute to global warming; it’s polluting the air, which is bad for everyone. Isn’t there money to be made in figuring out cleaner alternatives?

Marco Rubio wants to be president. He wants to lead the country. Fine. But why can’t he and others of his ilk see that leadership means looking forward, not back?

The world is changing. The climate is changing. Rubio and his fellow Republicans made fun of President Obama and his “hope and change” agenda.

But they better realize that, at least when it comes to dealing with climate change, hope is not going to be enough.