Mitt Romney, Death and Science

A New York Times article over the weekend, entitled “Romney Shifted Right on Energy as Presidential Politics Beckoned,” reminds us that the Governor whose promising environmental agenda once included reducing toxic emissions from power plants and preventing oil spills is now the Presidential candidate who is full speed ahead on fossil fuels and apparently OK with roasting the planet (tragedy-of-the-commons style). Here, for example, is what he had to say in a fundraising speech in Pittsburgh late last year:

I want us to become energy secure and independent of the oil cartels. And that means let’s aggressively develop our oil, our gas, our coal, our nuclear power…By the way, they do not call it America warming, they call it global warming. So the idea of America spending massive amounts, trillions of dollars to somehow stop global warming is not a great idea. It loses jobs for Americans and ultimately it won’t be successful, because industries that are energy intensive will just get up and go somewhere else. So it doesn’t make any sense at all.

What I did not realize until reading the Times article is that even when Romney was a practicing environmentalist he had no interest in the scientific evidence about global warming. His cost-benefit analysis, which demonstrated that conservation measures were good for the economy and good for him, had no need of such input. We “don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” he said, and we don’t need to know. And nearly a decade later after a new cost-benefit analysis tossed his environmental agenda out the window, we still don’t know and we still don’t need to.

Which is funny, because Governor Mitt certainly brought out the big scientific guns for other initiatives, most memorably his “foolproof” death penalty proposal. Behold the press release:

April 28, 2005
Relying on Science, Romney Files Death Penalty Bill

Governor Mitt Romney today filed a bill enabling Massachusetts prosecutors to seek the death penalty in cases that include terrorism, the assassination of law enforcement officials and multiple killings. The legislation is the first of its kind in the nation in that it calls for corroborating scientific evidence, multiple layers of review and a new “no doubt” standard of proof.

Romney said the proposal is the “gold standard for the death penalty in the modern scientific age.”

“In the past, efforts to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts have failed. They have failed because of concerns that it would be too broadly applied or that evidentiary standards weren’t high enough or proper safeguards weren’t in place. We have answered all those concerns with this bill,” said Romney.

The release went on in that same vein for several more paragraphs and managed to work in the words “science” or “scientific” nine more times. Romney of course failed to convince the members of a skeptical Legislature that Massachusetts should become the 39th state with a death penalty, even after he assured them that there would be no false convictions and no false executions under his bill. Shortly after his proposal was voted down, he announced he would not be seeking a second term. And since then, five states — New York, New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico and Connecticut — have repealed their death penalty statutes.

So, to sum up, Mitt Romney believes that science can tell us nothing about climate change and how quickly we might be killing the planet, but it can tell us everything about who should live and who should die. Is there really anything else we need to know about him?

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