DULUTH -- Acknowledging that they might be "a bit of an odd couple," Gov. Tim Pawlenty this afternoon said he nonetheless joined with Will Steger to raise the alarm about global climate change because countering it represents a "moral imperative."
"The jury should be in on this issue - climate change is occurring," Pawlenty, the buttoned-down Republican, said at a news briefing, standing alongside Steger, the Arctic explorer and environmental activist, dressed casually in sweater. Pawlenty said he wants to "reach out with Will to convince the skeptics."
The pair, who spoke about climate at a conference on environmental issues affecting Lake Superior, said the governor will join Steger early next year on series of visits to places in the state where climate change is already showing its impact, and Pawlenty reiterated that he may rendezvous with Steger when the explorers returns to view shrinking ice sheets in the Canadian Arctic next spring.
Speaking to the 400 researchers, resource managers, and educators at the conference, Steger, of Ely, praised Pawlenty to having "had the guts to take on bold initiatives," such as setting deadlines for reducing carbon output in the state. He said the governor's influence as chairman of the National Governor's Association should help place climate change higher on the national agenda.
Pawlenty called Steger a "Paul Revere-like figure," for his work in "issuing a call to action" on the issue. In the news conference, Pawlenty acknowledged "receiving some flak" from some fellow conservatives who aren't convinced global climate change is being influenced by humans. He said he "rejects the notion" that acting on behalf of the environment will hurt the economy. He and Steger said that to the contrary, companies that embrace a greener approach will prosper.