Climate Chatter: Kerry Statements and the Waffling Winds of Changing Positions

by Bill Chameides | March 10th, 2014
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 4 comments

Sen. John McCain embraces his then-Senate colleague, John Kerry, during his confirmation hearing for secretary of state. When it comes to climate change, the two men sometimes embrace the same policy, sometimes not. (Flickr/glynlowe some rights reserved)

A continuing series on what folks in the public sphere
have said about climate change in recent days.

The U.S. secretary of state has been circling the globe, for the most part laboring to stifle the winds of war but also taking time to get a few sparks going on slowing climate change. The reviews from two of his former colleagues on the Hill have not been all that flattering.

quotation marksquotation marksI wanted to start right here, in Jakarta, because this city — this country — this region — is really on the front lines of climate change. It’s not an exaggeration to say to you that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk.


—Secretary of State John Kerry in a speech in Indonesia, Feb. 2014

quotation marksquotation marksLeading the way toward progress on this issue [of climate change] is the right role for the United States. … We’re talking about the future of our earth and of humanity.  We need to elevate the environment in everything we do.


—Secretary Kerry, March 2014

quotation marksquotation marksI’ve decided to make climate change the subject of my first Policy Guidance as Secretary of State. …


[Climate change] … isn’t just a challenge, it’s also an incredible opportunity. And the Policy Guidance I’m issuing today is an important step in the right direction.


One thing’s for sure: there’s no time to lose.


—Secretary Kerry, March 2014

quotation marksquotation marksSo [Secretary Kerry] has to go over to Asia and talk about climate change and say it’s the most important issue. Hello? On what planet does he reside?


—Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in a radio interview, Feb. 2014

quotation marksquotation marksIf kerrey (sic) believes his global warming speech it is a terrifying prospect for American policy. He is making policy in a fantasy world.


— Newt Gingrich via @newtgingrich in Twitter response to Kerry’s speech

I guess McCain and Gingrich would find the next two statements equally fantastical.

quotation marksquotation marksInstead of idly debating the precise extent of global warming, or the precise timeline of global warming, we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring. … We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great.


—a U.S. senator, in a 2007 speech

quotation marksquotation marks[O]ur country must take action to address climate change. … If enough of us demand action from our leaders, we can spark the innovation we need.


—a U.S. representative, in a 2008 ad campaign

Funny thing:

The first quote is from none other than Senator McCain from a speech in 2007. And the second is from Newt Gingrich.

I can’t help but wonder — what do they really believe? It’s so hard to know.

Others in the Series

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 1

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 2

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 3

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 4

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 5

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 6

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 7

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 8

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 9

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 10

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 11

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 12

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 13

• Climate Change Chatter, Issue 14

filed under: climate change, faculty, global warming, policy, politics
and: , , , ,


All comments are moderated and limited to 275 words. Your e-mail address is never displayed. Read our Comment Guidelines for more details.

  1. Philip Haddad
    Mar 10, 2014

    Kerry and many others are missing the point that it is the heat emitted from fossil fuels and nuclear energy that causes temperatures to rise and glaciers to melt. The CO2 is mostly an indication of the extent of fossil fuel consumption. “Climate sensitivity” to CO2 was based on the assumption that a rise in CO2 is/was the cause of rising temperatures. Don’t tax or sequester CO2. Focus on HEAT and the CO2 will take care of itself!

    • Michael Berndtson
      Mar 13, 2014

      Sounds good to me. Though I’m a little confused about what it is you’re trying to say. No, scratch that. I have absolutely no idea what it is you’re trying to say. Nonetheless, you may be onto something. So instead of taxing the product of combustion (carbon dioxide), we should tax the reactants. That would be crude oil, well gas and coal. That would put a big chunk of the burden onto the fossil fuel companies, where it probably belongs anyway.

      • Philip Haddad
        Mar 13, 2014

        Michael, all I am trying to say is that CO2 per se, has very little to do with global warming. It is the heat being emitted whether it be from fossil fuels or nuclear power. If we focus on heat we can take actions which will discourage the licensing of more nuclear plants and will stop the waste of time and money in capturing CO2.


  1. Another Week of Global Warming News, March 16, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered - […] 2014/03/10: GreenGrok: Climate Chatter: Kerry Statements and the Waffling Winds of Changing Position… […]

©2015 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff