With a week left until the Michigan primary, Rick Santorum is neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney, in a state that will test Santorum’s ability to connect with blue-collar voters. Perhaps in an attempt to up the ante with this crucial demographic, Santorum went on the offensive this weekend, attacking President Obama’s “radical environmentalism,” which, according to Santorum, is based in the president’s misinterpretation of the Bible. Santorum outlined his vision of environmental stewardship in an appearance on Face the Nation:
When you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth; by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example, the politicization of the whole global warming debate — this is all an attempt to, you know, to centralize power and to give more power to the government.
Climate change skepticism is not new to this season’s GOP race and it’s an issue with a strong partisan divide, but Santorum’s theological approach certainly stands apart (and with gas prices spiking, it’s probably not a coincidence). Santorum has been taking a hard line on the economic consequences of environmental reform as well as the theological implications, blaming the president for frustrating energy development in coal country.
Santorum’s views on climate change, however, don’t exactly jive with those of his coreligionists. Seven-in-ten Catholics believe that the there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth is getting warmer. And half of Catholics believe that climate change is being caused by human activity.
Although the Catholic hierarchy has not talked about the issue much recently, the issue of climate change is one in which Santorum also differs from leaders of his own faith. Last November, Pope Benedict XVI called on delegates to a U.N. climate change conference to agree on a “responsible and credible response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon.
Santorum’s theological views on environmental stewardship may not resonate with most Catholics. However, among Republican voters, many of who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and who strongly doubt the existence of climate change, his views may find a more receptive audience.