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By Brian Bennett, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican star and possible 2016 presidential candidate, said Sunday that he does not believe human activity is causing climate change.

“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.”

A National Climate Assessment released by the White House last week found that Rubio’s home state is one of the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and changes in temperatures and storm patterns. President Barack Obama has proposed several regulatory programs to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, which most scientists say are the chief cause of a warming global climate.

Rubio said he doesn’t agree that actions humans take today could affect how the climate is changing.

“Our climate is always changing,” Rubio said. “And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to man-made activities.”

Rubio’s denial that human activity is to blame for climate change could stand him in good stead with the conservatives who dominate some Republican nominating contests, but it puts him at odds with the views of most Americans.

About two-thirds of American adults said last fall that they believed there was “solid evidence the Earth is warming,” according to a poll by the Pew Research Center. But among Republicans who said they identified with the tea party, only one in four agreed with that statement.

Asked about the cause of climate change, just over 40 percent of American adults in the Pew survey blamed human activity, and one in five took the position that Rubio appears to have adopted — that change in the climate results from natural patterns of climate variation. Another one in eight said that climate change was “just not happening,” and the remaining 17 percent said they did not know.

(Photo from Flickr Commons/ Mikael Miettinen)

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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