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Huntsman tweaks climate change tone, says scientists need to clarify facts

 

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman appeared to take a notably more skeptical view towards current climate change science Tuesday, saying that the "scientific community owes us more" on the issue and that not enough solid research exists to "formulate policies" based on global warming.

"I'm not a scientist, I'm not a physicist, but I would defer to science in that discussion, and I would say that the scientific community owes us more in terms of a better description or explanation about what might lie beneath all of this," Huntsman told an audience of bloggers at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington.

"But there's not enough information right now to be able to formulate policies in terms of addressing it overall, primarily because it's a global issue," he went on. "We can enact policies here. But I wouldn't want to unilaterally disarm as a country, I wouldn't want to hinder job creators during a time when our economy is flat."

Huntsman made waves earlier this summer when he took aim at his GOP rivals for expressing skepticism about evolution and climate change science, sending out a much-retweeted message in August that read, "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

Asked by a reporter Tuesday whether he has reversed that position, Huntsman said that he still "defers" to scientists who study the issue but said that there remain conflicts among the research community.

"Because ... there are questions about the validity of the science, evidence by one university over in Scotland recently, I think the onus is on the scientific community to provide more in the way of information, to help clarify the situation, that's all."

Huntsman also compared the issue of climate change to cancer research.

"If there's some interruption or disconnect in terms of what other scientists have to say, then let the debate play out within the scientific community," he said. "I think that's where we are. There's probably more debate yet to play out."

Huntsman also took questions from attendees about trade policy, education, and the United Nations. He echoed criticisms of one federal agency often derided by his fellow Republicans, telling the audience "I'm still trying to find the value added of the Department of Education."

Spokesman Tim Miller described the former Utah governor's position as consistent, saying that Huntsman has consistently said that if 90 percent of climate scientists agree on the effects of man-made warming, "he trusts their position."

"That was his position then and it's his position now," Miller said, adding that Huntsman's statement today related more specifically to the global nature of the problem -- that United States policy should not be shaped around the threat of global warming until the science is indisputably settled and "until the Chinese are on board."