By Ben Geman - 08/04/11 01:28 PM EDT
GOP White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty said this week that most or all climate change stems from natural causes.
The statement puts the former Minnesota governor at odds with GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, who believes climate change is occurring and that humans have contributed.
Pawlenty spoke about climate change in a wide-ranging interview with The Miami Herald.
Asked whether there is man-made climate change, Pawlenty replied, “there’s definitely climate change,” then said:
“The more interesting question is how much is a result of natural causes and how much, if any, is attributable to human behavior. And that’s what the scientific dispute is about.”
It’s something we have to look to the science on. The weight of the evidence is that most of it, maybe all of it, is because of natural causes. But to the extent there is some element of human behavior causing some of it — that’s what the scientific debate is about. That’s why we’ve seen all this back and forth between some of those prominent scientists in the world arguing about that very point.
Pawlenty's claim is at odds with the large number of prominent scientific organizations that say human activities — such as burning coal and oil — are a major driver of global warming.
The National Research Council, in a report this year, noted that climate change is “very likely caused primarily” by human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2009, 18 scientific groups — including the American Meteorological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science — issued a joint statement on the matter.
They said that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the “primary driver” of climate change. Similarly, the federal U.S. Global Change Research Program noted in its latest assessment, in 2009, that “global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.”
The GOP field is split on climate science.
While Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said in June that he believes climate change is occurring and that humans have contributed, Rep. Michele BachmannMichele BachmannNo-shows at GOP convention Clinton camp: Trump VP pick is 'divisive,' 'unpopular' Lobbying world MORE (R-Minn.) has dismissed the idea that human-induced emissions are consequential.
Bachmann is running second to Romney in a number of polls, and some predict she could win the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, where Pawlenty also hopes to fare well.
Pawlenty and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have both renounced their past support for cap-and-trade, a policy opposed across the board in the GOP field (click here for more on Huntsman’s views).