AD Main Menu

Palin seems to skirt global warming issue

Tom Kizzia
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Ruby Riddle, the city hostess of Fairbanks, laughs at a campaign button while waiting in line to attend a welcome home rally for Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at an airport hangar in Fairbanks, Alaska, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is greeted by her daughter, Piper, left, after arriving for a welcome home rally in Fairbanks, Alaska, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.
Photo by Eric Risberg / AP
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
A rally at the Fairbanks airport greeted Gov. Sarah Palin on her return to Alaska on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Melody Pernell and Jennifer Ostler show off their T-shirts to Leslie Greenfield, at left, as they wait for Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate who was to arrive later at a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin looks at the crowd gathered outside an airplane hangar while walking down a jetway with her husband Todd Palin to a welcome home rally in Fairbanks, Alaska, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.
Photo by Eric Risberg / AP
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Dora Barfield with her home made button "Barfield's for McCain Palin" button waits for Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate who was to arrive later at a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her husband Todd greet the crowd in Fairbanks Wednesday evening September 10, 2008.
Photo by Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, poses for picture being taken by her husband, Todd Palin, left, after speaking to a welcome home rally in Fairbanks, Alaska Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.
Photo by Eric Risberg / AP
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Crowds wait for the arrival of Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a welcome home rally in Fairbanks, Alaska, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.
Photo by Eric Risberg / AP
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Melody Pernell, right, of North Pole, Alaska, walks in line with her daughter Paris, 2, and son Judah, 4, to a welcome home rally for Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, at an airport hangar in Fairbanks, Alaska Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.
Photo by ERIC RISBERG / AP
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
A rally at the Fairbanks airport greeted Gov. Sarah Palin on her return to Alaska on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Annaka O'Donoghue of Fairbanks wears one the T-shirts her family made in honor of Sarah Palin. The home schooled family all had T-shirts with various sayings on including Mom Karla with Home schoolers for Palin shirt. At left is UAF student from Nome Reba Lean who is volunteering. Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate was was to arrive later at a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin waves with her husband Todd as she arrives in Fairbanks, Alaska, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.
Photo by Al Grillo / AP
John Strong an Alaska Airlines worker on the North Slope was first in line arriving at 1:20 PM with a chair to wait for Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate who was to arrive later at a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Tracy Richardson of Fairbanks wears a Sarah Bulldog button as she and her son Isaac Richardson wait for Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate who was to arrive later at a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party on her first trip back to Alaska since she was chosen as McCain's running mate held a rally in a hanger at the Fairbanks airport on Wednesday September 10, 2008.
Photo by BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News

Charles Gibson seemed a little confused about Gov. Sarah Palin's answers on global warming when he interviewed her this week while strolling beside the trans-Alaska oil pipeline outside Fairbanks.

The ABC anchor has plenty of Alaska voters for company. Since entering the governor's race two years ago, Palin has shimmied back and forth on the key question of whether warming trends are natural or a byproduct of human activity.

What Palin ended up telling Gibson was this: "I'm attributing some of man's activities to potentially causing some of the changes in the climate right now."

That sounds like a change from past statements, her interviewer said. She was sounding more like Sen. John McCain.

"I think you are a cynic," Palin replied, "because show me where I have ever said that there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect, or no effect, on climate change."

Critics didn't have far to reach: an interview in the conservative Internet news source Newsmax.com, published the day she was announced as McCain's vice president pick, in which Palin 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."

Someone who feels differently is Palin's running mate. McCain long ago accepted the argument of a majority of scientists that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet, and has immersed himself in legislative efforts to curb those emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in 2007 that odds were better than 90 percent that humans were to blame for current warming.

But Palin comes from a state where skepticism over the causes of climate change is still a mainstream sentiment.

GLOBAL WARMING TALK NOT POPULAR IN ALASKA

Earlier this year, the state legislature approved $2 million for a conference inviting climate change skeptics here to hash out the causes.

"It is important to remember that climate change is occurring, but then it has occurred continuously for millions of years," wrote the legislature's Republican leaders, House Speaker John Harris and Senate President Lyda Green. "And, so far, there are too many dissenting opinions to state matter-of-factly that it is being caused by humans."

The project was derided by some as a "conference to nowhere" and now appears unlikely to take place. Much of the money was later diverted to fund a lawsuit by the Palin administration against listing the polar bear as a threatened species.

State officials have expressed concern in the past that efforts to regulate emissions could have an unwarranted impact on oil development activity on Alaska's North Slope. The state joined others in an unsuccessful effort last year to get the Supreme Court to block use of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases.

Alaska has seen increased coastal erosion, melting of permafrost, dying forests and shrinking sea ice, all widely conceded to be the result of warming temperatures.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, has been a leader in obtaining federal funds to deal with impacts of climate change here. He has said a mix of natural and man-made causes are to blame. He bases his position not on the IPCC reports but on work by the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Palin has also said she is looking to the scientists in Fairbanks for advice on the issue.

Larry Hinzman, director of the IARC in Fairbanks, said Friday there were a range of opinions at the center. He said he personally thought natural cycles were at work along with human emissions.

"We know you can't dump that much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere without having an impact," he said.

'HEALTHY SKEPTICISM'

Running for governor in 2006, Palin said she didn't have all the answers on global warming and cautioned against an "overreaction." A campaign spokesman said at the time that she wasn't totally convinced one way or the other. "Science will tell us, and she's proud that UAF will have a role in that," the spokesman said. "She thinks the jury's still out."

Last December, assessing her first year in office, Palin noted the warming in Alaska but said, "I'm not an Al Gore, doom-and-glom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity."

On the other hand, as governor Palin formed a special sub-cabinet on climate change. Formed in April, 2007 -- two months after the latest IPCC report said there was no longer reasonable doubt about the main cause of global warming -- the group was charged not only with looking at ways to adapt to warming but at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Alaska sources.

Two months ago, Palin released a short report on the sub-cabinet's work. She spoke mostly about adaptation efforts but also spoke of ways to reduce government's "carbon footprint." She noted that future export of Alaska's natural gas would help the rest of the country obtain an affordable low-carbon energy source.

The administration's efforts so far include drawing up an inventory of emission sources in Alaska and creating a task force to find ways to reduce those emissions, said state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig.

"Why would we be doing all this if we weren't thinking we had to do something about greenhouse gas emissions?" Hartig said Friday.

Hartig said Palin had been completely supportive of her sub-cabinet's work, even as she has shown a "healthy skepticism" in meetings on the subject. He said she relies on her department heads for information, rather than steeping herself in the scientific arguments.

"The kind of questions she asks that show skepticism are the kinds of questions a person on the street asks," Hartig said.

Find Tom Kizzia online at adn.com/contact/tkizzia or call him at 907-235-4244.

Video: Take a tour of Wasilla
The Photo blog: Following the Republican National Convention
More Sarah Palin coverage
By TOM KIZZIA
tkizzia@adn.com