Scientists: Ted Cruz knows less about climate science than the average kindergartner
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Climate change is perhaps the most daunting global problem facing humanity. But when it comes to climate science, at least one candidate to lead the world's most powerful nation is only as informed as the average kindergartner.

A group of climate and biological scientists graded statements made about the environment by candidates. Some, like Democrat Hillary Clinton, performed well. Others -- mostly Republicans flunked. But no one performed worse than GOP candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz, according to the Associated Press.

None of the scientists knew which candidate said what. The contenders for president were identified only by numbers and their comments were graded anonymously.

"This individual understands less about science [and climate change] than the average kindergartner," wrote Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor. "That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president."

The scientists point to statements that are plainly false. In August, for example, Cruz said, "If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there's been zero warming. ... The satellite says it ain't happening."

The opposite is true.

Florida State University's James Elsner pointed out that data shows every decade has been warmer than the last since the mid-1900s, the AP reports. Satellite data shows "continued warming over the past several decades," and 2015 is set to be the warmest year on record.

Also earning the ire of scientists was Donald Trump, who said in September, "It could be warming and it's going to start to cool at some point. And you know in the 1920s people talked about global cooling. I don't know if you know that or not. They thought the Earth was cooling. Now it's global warming. Actually, we've had times where the weather wasn't working out so they changed it to extreme weather and they have all different names, you know, so that it fits the bill."

Harvard's Jim McCarthy called that "nonsense."