Mitt Romney outraged environmental activists on Sunday, telling NBC's David Gregory, "I'm not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet," during an interview on "Meet the Press."
"The reason I'm in this race is to help people," Romney said. "I'm not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet. I'm in this race to help the American people."
Romney made similar remarks during his speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., last month, where he declared to a cheering crowd, "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise ... is to help you and your family."
Romney's RNC remarks sparked outrage among many climate activists, although some supporters argued that Romney was taking a simple dig at President Barack Obama. In his 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention, Obama said, "We will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment ... when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
Environmental activists condemned Romney's remarks on "Meet the Press." Climate scientist Michael Mann, author of "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars," wrote in an e-mail to The Huffington Post, "It is disconcerting that a major party presidential candidate would show such wanton disregard for the health of our environment. Mr. Romney says he wants to 'help the American people.' Yet he mocks concern over human-caused climate change, arguably the greatest threat humanity has ever faced."
Daniel Kessler, spokesperson for climate campaign 350.org, said it was ironic that Romney wants to help Americans, but not the planet Americans inhabit.
"Mr. Romney can crack all the jokes that he wants to, but his cynicism won't solve the problem," Kessler wrote to HuffPost. "Half of the country is in drought, and NASA and says it's linked to climate change. If Mr. Romney finds that funny, then I think it's appropriate for people to question his leadership and commitment to truly helping the American people."
Romney's stance on anthropogenic climate change has wavered over the years. He recently acknowledged that humans contribute to global warming, but added "there remains a lack of scientific consensus."
The 2012 Republican platform mentions "climate change" once, to downplay the issue's severity. The 2012 Democratic platform addresses climate change as "one of the biggest threats of this generation," although climate activists have criticized the platform as weaker on climate legislation than the party's 2008 platform.
Obama challenged the RNC and Romney at the Democratic National Convention with his declaration that "Climate change is not a hoax."
"More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke," Obama said in his speech. "They’re a threat to our children’s future."