November 09, 2011 1:45 pm ET - by Kate Conway
Newt Gingrich may not be the most renowned flip-flopper in the GOP presidential primary race, but he's done his share of position-tweaking in an attempt to claw his way toward relevance with Republican voters. Last night on Fox News, Gingrich again backed away from a 2008 ad he made with then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in which he asserted, "We do agree our country must take action to address climate change," calling the ad "probably the dumbest single thing I've done in recent years."
That's not particularly surprising, since taking climate change seriously has become toxic among the Republican primary electorate in recent years. But shortly thereafter, Gingrich shuffled right back up to the global warming believer line, saying, "I would say to all my conservative friends, don't assume automatically the entire National Academy of Sciences is wrong."
I'm agnostic. But what I am saying — I would say to all my conservative friends, don't assume automatically the entire National Academy of Sciences is wrong. And I would say to the Academy, don't assume that a vote by renowned scientists is necessarily truth.
Gingrich is free to "assume" whatever he wants, but it's ludicrous to pretend that the assumptions made on both sides of the climate change debate carry equal weight. Virtually all reputable scientists affirm that data indicate not only that the planet is warming, but also that it's caused by human activity. Even a recent Koch-funded study intended to back up global warming deniers' claims with hard research turned out results that did just the opposite. Sure, overwhelming expert consensus doesn't technically constitute incontrovertible proof, but in the realm of scientific inquiry it's about as close as it's possible to get.
Gingrich's verbal dance around what's a rather sticky issue for Republican candidates who were once willing to acknowledge the need to "take action to address climate change" is made even more ridiculous by Gingrich's characterization of "science" during the same interview:
I actually don't know whether global warming's occurring. The vast majority of the National Academy of Science says it is. A minority says it is not. Science is not actually voted on. Science is a function of truth.
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