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Did Vivek Ramaswamy Call Climate Change a 'Hoax' After Saying It Was 'Real'?

A somewhat viral video featuring Ramaswamy's remarks was shared on social media following the first Republican presidential debate in August 2023.

Published Aug. 24, 2023

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy talks to members of the media in the spin room following the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum on Aug. 23, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Image Via Scott Olson/Getty Images

On Aug. 23, 2023, during the first Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, a user on X (formerly Twitter) posted a video that purported to show candidate Vivek Ramaswamy calling climate change a "hoax," followed by a clip from months earlier in which he said climate change was "real."

The post in question was captioned as follows: "Vivek Ramaswamy just said climate change is a hoax. But check out what he said 5 months ago."

In this story, we'll first take a look back at Ramaswamy's earlier remarks that appeared in the video. They came from a March 2023 podcast interview. We'll then examine what he said at the debate and provide context.

March 2023: Podcast Interview

On March 5, 2023, Ramaswamy appeared on the podcast "The Takeout," which was hosted by CBS News' chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett.

Around 20 minutes into the interview, Ramaswamy was asked by Garrett about "COVID-ism," which Ramaswamy said he believed was "just one of the many secular religions we've embraced in America."

Ramaswamy also referenced "climate-ism," saying that, "It's in the veneer of science, both with COVID-ism and climate-ism, we've created a religious conviction in a single-sided agenda that has actually nothing to do with the problem you're purporting to solve."

Later in the interview, Ramaswamy called climate change itself "real." As The Associated Press and many others have repeatedly and credibly reported, Ramaswamy's statement was true, given that "overwhelming scientific evidence shows global warming and climate change are real and caused by human activity, including human-caused carbon dioxide emissions."

Ramaswamy explained, "I'm not denying the underlying reality that global surface temperatures are going up, and, in part, due to human activity. But what I'm denying here and rejecting is the religious fanaticism to say that that needs to be the end-all, be-all purpose of human action, when, in fact, the end-all, be-all purpose of human action should actually be human-flourishing itself. And I think that's what the religious zealotry misses here."

In other words, on March 5, Ramaswamy said that climate change was real and that human activity was part of the problem, then added that he had differences with the way he saw others attempting to solve the issue.

August 2023: The First Debate

During the debate on Aug. 23, Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked the eight candidates onstage, "So, we want to start on this with a show of hands. Do you believe in human behavior is causing climate change? Raise your hand if you do."

Ramaswamy did not raise his hand, which was an indication of the silent answer, "No." Instead, he went on to say that, "My hands are in my pockets."

This moment stood in stark contrast to the March interview in which Ramaswamy said that climate change is "real," and "I'm not denying the underlying reality that global surface temperatures are going up, and, in part, due to human activity."

With his hands down at the debate, Ramaswamy then said three times, "The climate change agenda is a hoax," the context of which was spelled out in the March interview, as well as his own social media posts, including one that referenced "climate change policies that threaten U.S. prosperity."

Conclusion

The X post containing the video that was in question claimed, "Vivek Ramaswamy just said climate change is a hoax. But check out what he said 5 months ago." The implication was that he had reversed his position. But that wasn't exactly what Ramaswamy said. He said, "The climate change agenda is a hoax," by which it appears he meant some or all of the existing government policies and proposals meant to address the problem of climate change — the "climate change agenda" — are a "hoax."

Causing further confusion, Ramaswamy refused to raise his hand when the debaters were asked to do so if they believe human behavior causes climate change. Whether he intended it or not, it appears most people took him to be saying he believes the notion of human-caused climate change itself is a hoax.

For further coverage of additional remarks made by Ramaswamy at the first debate, we recommend readers visit a PolitiFact fact check that examined the accuracy of his remark, "The reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change."

Sources

Cercone, Jeff, and Amy Sherman. "More Deaths from Climate Policies than Climate Change? Scientists Say Ramaswamy's Claim Is Baseless." PolitiFact, 24 Aug. 2023, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2023/aug/24/vivek-ramaswamy/vivek-ramsaswamys-misleading-gop-debate-claim-abou/.

"Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy on 'The Takeout' | March 5, 2023." YouTube, CBS News, 5 Mar. 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5NRK1gjX_U.

Fraser, Terrence. "Climate Crisis Is Real and Stems from Human Activity." The Associated Press, 16 July 2021, https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-967359390899.

Tulp, Sophia. "Temperature Graph Misrepresented to Deny Climate Change." The Associated Press, 19 Jan. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-misleading-climate-change-graph-418146648172.

"Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie Exchange Jabs: 'Bought and Paid For.'" YouTube, Fox News, 23 Aug. 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YUbCUlKRdo.

@VivekGRamaswamy. "The Real Emergency Isn't Climate Change, It's the Man-Made Disaster of Climate Change Policies That Threaten U.S. Prosperity." X, 17 Aug. 2023, https://twitter.com/VivekGRamaswamy/status/1692268898278859006.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.