Who is better on global warming, Jeb Bush or Vladimir Putin?


You may be surprised to learn that when it comes to so-called global warming, Vladimir Putin is to the right of Jeb Bush.

The president believes that "there is no global warming, that this is a fraud to restrain the industrial development of several countries including Russia," says Stanislav Belkovsky, a political analyst and critic of Putin.

Putin's right! It is a fraud to deindustrialize our countries.

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Russia's official view appears to have changed little since 2003, when Putin told an international climate conference that warmer temperatures would mean Russians "spend less on fur coats" while "agricultural specialists say our grain production will increase, and thank God for that".

Exactly. Even if it were warming (which satellite data says it hasn't been, for 17 years), no one ever talks about the benefits of warming, especially to northern countries who have punishing winters and small harvests.

"It is difficult to spend editorial resources on things that are now a low priority in the midst of the economic crisis," says Galina Timchenko, former editor-in-chief of the successful news siteLenta.ru.

Also true. With enormous debt, is this questionable problem really a priority?

Putin's scepticism dates from the early 2000s, when his staff "did very, very extensive work trying to understand all sides of the climate debate", said Andrey Illarionov, Putin's senior economic adviser at the time and now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington.

"We found that, while climate change does exist, it is cyclical, and the anthropogenic role is very limited," he said. "It became clear that the climate is a complicated system and that, so far, the evidence presented for the need to 'fight' global warming was rather unfounded."

Russian school teaching also appears to lag behind the rapidly expanding science on climate change. Randomly sampled geography textbooks make no mention of human impact on the climate, and one college-level text states that climate changes are caused mainly by solar activity, the movement of the planet's crust and volcanoes.

Wouldn't it be delightful if American schools taught the same?

"Russian mass media repeat the same mistake that Western journalists used to make: the false balance, where the idea of the human effect on climate change is presented along with skeptics' point of view," [a Putin critic] said.

Presenting both points of view is viewed as a "mistake". Don't you miss those kinds of mistakes?

As for Jeb, he believes that humans "contribute" to global warming.

"The climate is changing; I don’t think anybody can argue it’s not. Human activity has contributed to it," Bush said in an email interview with Bloomberg BNA.

Do we really need a nominee who is to the left of Vladimir Putin on global warming?

(Abridged version originally published in AT)



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