"I've never disputed that the climate is changing,” Marco Rubio said on Tuesday. He added: "Of course the climate is changing." It's just, well, he doesn't like any of the legislation proposed in response to it. The remarks are an apparent attempt to clarify his statement to ABC on Sunday that he is skeptical of "man-made," climate change, i.e. the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists worldwide. Rubio, in case you haven't noticed, is almost certainly running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
"I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it," Rubio said on Sunday, placing himself firmly in the "climate change denier" camp. He added: “I think severe weather has been a fact of life on Earth since man started recording history.”
But it appears that Rubio is uncomfortable with that label, hence his remarks on Tuesday that read like a walk back but don't actually clarify much of anything. They're the "I'm not not licking toads" statement of climate change denial. Here's a portion of his statement on Tuesday at the National Press Club, via NBC (emphasis ours):
“The issue is not whether the climate is changing – as it always is changing – the issue is whether there are legislative proposals before us that could do anything about it....What I have said, and what I disagree with, is that if we pass cap-and-trade for example, that will stop this from happening, when in fact half of the emissions on the planet are coming from developing countries and half of that is coming from one country – China – that isn’t going to follow whatever laws we pass,”
Rubio added that he's fine with proposals that are more environmentally-friendly, so long as they are "also good for our economy.” He added, "for people to go out and say ‘if you pass this bill that I am proposing, this will somehow lead us to have less tornadoes and less hurricanes,’ that’s just not an accurate statement." Except the quantity of tornadoes and hurricanes is not actually what most recent reports on the issue have pointed to.
At this point, as the 2014 National Climate Assessment detailed, climate change is already happening, and it has different effects on different parts of the world. It's possible that we can mitigate those effects by reducing emissions, but the damage — particularly to an ongoing rise in global temperature, and rising sea levels — is already done. At this point, we can just attempt to make its impact less horrible.