Mitt Romney Believes in Climate Change. And Well He Should.

Behold the story. Note that Romney’s belief in the existence of anthropogenic climate change is a longstanding one; he had to hide it in his last run for the presidency, but he is not hiding it now. And thank goodness. It’s long past time that Republicans decided to take action regarding climate change, and in taking action, it is to be hoped that Romney and other Republicans will follow the example of Hank Paulson in discussing the issue of climate change and proposing solutions aimed at reducing carbon emissions:

THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.

For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.

We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.

We need to act now, even though there is much disagreement, including from members of my own Republican Party, on how to address this issue while remaining economically competitive. They’re right to consider the economic implications. But we must not lose sight of the profound economic risks of doing nothing.

The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax. Few in the United States now pay to emit this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere we all share. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies.

It’s true that the United States can’t solve this problem alone. But we’re not going to be able to persuade other big carbon polluters to take the urgent action that’s needed if we’re not doing everything we can do to slow our carbon emissions and mitigate our risks.

Good for Paulson for making this bold and correct statement, and good for Romney for lending his star power to advancing the argument that we do need to do something about climate change. Of course, as Paulson notes, a carbon tax is the best way to combat climate change, and carbon taxes are supported by economists on the right as well as the left. The political support for a carbon tax is not there, even if a carbon tax includes–as it should–a payroll tax refund that makes the carbon tax revenue neutral. But that doesn’t change the fact that a carbon tax is needed, and the longer we wait before implementing the tax, the more damage will be done. No, climate change is not a hoax that has been cooked up by some conspiratorial cabal to inflict some strange, horrible whatever on the rest of us. It is a fact, and the sooner that we come to terms with that fact, the better off we will be in doing something about keeping our planet habitable.

I don’t know if I can support a third Romney run for the presidency. Romney is an admirable person with many admirable virtues–as this movie shows–but he was a terrible candidate who lost a race in 2012 that he should have won. But Romney is a smart and wise man, and he is entirely correct to point out that politicians on both sides of the aisle have done a horrible job of addressing climate change, education reform and poverty. And if a third Romney run for the presidency puts these and other pressing issues on the table for discussion in the Republican party, and across the country, well, I guess that I can live with a third Romney run for the presidency.

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