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2016 Presidential Election: The Candidates on Climate Change

05/18/2015 01:09 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2016

Although the country is over a year and half away from the 2016 presidential election, candidates are stepping up to throw their hats into the ring.

Voters may be exhausted by the time November '16 rolls around, but the upside is that it will give them plenty of time to dig deep into each entrants position on the environment, climate change, and the commitment (or lack of) to protecting the planet for future generations.

Gallup has put together a poll on the views of the American electorate focusing on the question of global warming, and looking at responses on a Conservative Republican to Liberal Democrat continuum.

On the question of, "When will global warming happen?" -- using the response, "Will it happen in your lifetime?" the breakdown was:

• 89 percent of Liberal Democrats said yes
• 66 percent of Independents said yes
• 37 Percent of Conservative Republicans said yes

On the question of whether global warming was the result of human activity the break down was:

• 81 percent of Liberal Democrats said yes
• 54 percent of Independents said yes
• 27 percent of Conservative Republicans said yes

On the question of whether global warming was the result of naturally occurring changes in the environment the breakdown was:

• 16 percent of Liberal Democrats said yes
• 38 percent of Independents said yes
• 70 percent of Conservative Republicans said yes

This information is essential to understand the posturing of most candidates who have to appeal to one demographic in the primaries and another in a nationally contested race between (most probably) two candidates. This becomes clear specifically for those who emanate from within a narrower base core (such as the Tea Party).

Here's a brief look at the declared candidates:

Marco Rubio: On the record in an interview with ABC News, Rubio stated, "Our climate is always evolving and natural disasters have always existed." He doesn't believe that "human activity' is causing the extreme changes to climate change "the way these scientists are portraying it." He does not support legislation to ameliorate what has been laid out as industrial causes, seeing them as "destroy[ing]" the economy. His point of view has changed dramatically since 2007, when he was not on the trail of pursuing higher office.

Ted Cruz: Cruz does not believe the "data" supports the point of view that humans contribute to climate change. He recently likened those concerned about global warming to the "equivalent of the flat-earthers," casting himself in the role of renowned scientist Galileo (1564-1642). He also opposes government intervention as a "job killer."

Mike Huckabee: Rather than answering questions about climate change with transparency, Huckabee has used deflection in recent speeches to comment on the president's efforts. Huckabee maintains that Obama was adrift in his State of the Union speech, when he spoke about the importance of tackling environmental issues. Huckabee's response was that America had more to fear from ISIS and "Islamic jihadism."

Rand Paul: Staking out potentially different ground than many of his fellow Republicans, Paul has publicly acknowledged that climate change is accelerated by the actions of humans. He has implied that he would support regulations that are not at odds with job loss. However, a recent article in Climate Progress, suggests that a seismic shift from his previous stand (climate concern as "dubious stuff") is suspect.

Carly Fiorina: As recently as an April interview with MSNBC, Fiorina put forth that "a single nation acting alone can make no difference" through regulatory action. "We need to innovate our way out of this," she said. "That's what the scientists are telling us." Six months prior, Fiorina penned an op-ed for The Washington Post entitled, "Companies shouldn't cave in to the demands of climate change activists."

Ben Carson: A well-regarded neurosurgeon, Carson doesn't see global warming as a concern because, "There's always going to be either cooling or warming going on." He believes the emphasis should be on the EPA working "in conjunction with business, industry and universities to find the most eco-friendly ways of developing our energy resources." Carson also supports building the Keystone Pipeline, assured that it is "perfectly safe."

Hillary Clinton: With clear statements evidencing that she will follow the initiatives of the Obama presidency, Clinton is a strong supporter of the Clean Air Act's mission to curb power plant emissions of carbon. Like Obama, she references natural gas as a "bridge fuel." adding the caveat of concern for "methane leaks" and placement of drills sites. Clinton supported fracking abroad while Secretary of State, a topic examined in depth by a Mother Jones article. As a Senator in 2006, she voted for drilling of the coast of Florida's Gulf of Mexico coastline. Clinton has spearheaded efforts for Clean Cookstoves, a global move to "empower women and combat climate change."

Bernie Sanders: Sanders is as good as it gets. He has a 95 percent lifetime score with the League of Conservation Voters, and was the highest scoring senator in the 113th Congress according to the group Climate Hawks Vote. He has pointed to the U.S. military's warnings on the dire results of global warming, pushed to end fossil fuel subsidies, and consistently advocated for reducing greenhouse emissions. He has reiterated in speeches that climate change is real and that the future of our children depends on immediate action.

Stay tuned!