Do scientists disagree about global warming?

Read the full post at Politifact.

Climate change has become a touchy subject in the Republican primary. Though some candidates once supported plans to reduce carbon emissions, such strategies have fallen out of favor with Republicans in recent years. Even acknowledging that human beings are causing climate change can be politically problematic for some Republicans.

Our colleagues at the Miami Herald asked Republican presidential candidate and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty about his views on climate change in an interview on Aug. 3, 2011. His response piqued our interest:

“Well, there’s definitely climate change. 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,” said Pawlenty. “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… There’s lots of layers to it. But at least as to any potential man-made contribution to it, it’s fair to say the science is in dispute.”

We divided Pawlenty’s answer into his two essential claims:

  • Evidence points toward climate change being primarily a natural, rather than man-made, phenomenon.
  • The science about the causes of global climate change is in dispute.

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