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By Keith Perine September 3, 2008

Palin isn't convinced it's a people problem

Now that Sen. John McCain has chosen a running mate, Democrats have a target.

Within days of her ascension to the GOP ticket, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin came under attack by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry for her environmental views. In an Aug. 31 interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulous, Kerry said this: "With the choice of Gov. Palin, it's now the third term of Bush-Cheney, because what he's done is he's chosen somebody who actually doesn't believe that climate change is man-made."

Kerry's claim is supported by an answer Palin gave in an interview with Newsmax, a conservative news Web site. She was asked for her "take on global warming and how it is affecting our country," in an Aug. 29 interview published on She said, "A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."

But McCain is. As we explained in this item, McCain was an early proponent of capping emissions to combat the impact of global warming, a position he has touted in a campaign commercial.

Some other past statements by Palin suggest she has been undecided about whether humans are heating up the planet. An Anchorage Daily News candidate survey during Alaska's 2006 gubernatorial campaign that asked "what role does state government have, if any, in addressing global warming and climate change," prompted Palin to answer, "We need to analyze the potential economic costs, needs and opportunities associated with climate change. Let's be cautious in how we react – to make sure we don't overreact."

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On Nov. 4, 2006, just before her election, the Anchorage Daily News quoted a Palin spokesman, Curtis Smith, as saying Palin was undecided about the cause of global warming. "She's not totally convinced one way or the other," Smith said.

In a New York Times op-ed published in January, Palin also signaled that she doesn't think scientists have made the case for human culpability. Palin said proponents of listing polar bears as an endangered species – which she opposes – were trying to "force the government to either stop or severely limit any public or private action that produces, or even allows, the production of greenhouse gases. But the Endangered Species Act is not the correct tool to address climate change — the act itself actually prohibits any consideration of broader issues. Such limits should be adopted through an open process in which environmental issues are weighed against economic and social needs, and where scientists debate and present information that policymakers need to make the best decisions."

In her home state, which has seen significant changes in its glacial landscapes, Palin is addressing the climate change issue. In September 2007, she created a "climate change subcabinet" to prepare a state strategy to respond to global warming. In a report to Alaskans in July, Palin wrote that the subcabinet "will also be making recommendations to me on how Alaskans can save energy and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. "

Palin's nod to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the context of global warming would suggest she's not entirely closed off to the idea that the two are related. Still, Palin's Aug. 29 statement was pretty clear: she doesn't attribute global warming to man-made causes, despite a broad, global scientific consensus that human activity is responsible for climate change. We find Kerry's statement to be Mostly True.

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Palin isn't convinced it's a people problem

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