By Tom Harris
Energy Secretary Rick Perry did a remarkable thing last week: he expressed skepticism about the causes of climate change in a TV interview and, even after howls of disapproval from environmentalists and the press, he did it again a few days later before a major Senate committee. Red GREEN and Blue, “a part of the Important Media network of blogs,” wondered, “Rick Perry on climate change – is he crazy, or is he playing Trump?”
In reality, Perry’s candor is a refreshing change that politicians from across the political spectrum should strive to emulate. Here is what happened.
Appearing on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on June 19, Perry was asked by anchor Joe Kernen, “do you believe CO2 is primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate?”
No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in. The fact is this shouldn’t be a debate about, ‘Is the climate changing, is man having an effect on it?’ Yeah, we are. The question should be just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to effect that? This science, this idea that science is just absolutely settled and if you don’t believe it’s settled then you’re somehow another Neanderthal, that is so inappropriate from my perspective. I think if you’re going to be a wise, intellectually-engaged person, being a skeptic about some of these issues is quite alright.
Calling Perry’s answer, “pretty good,” Kernen laughed, “You’ve really got to be careful. I don’t know what the actual penalty is for not believing…It’s heretical.”
That is an understatement. Climate activists and many media were outraged by the Secretary’s answer. The Houston Chronicle reported, “Perry’s comments drew attacks from environmental groups, which called the former Texas governor a ‘climate denier.’”
“Rick Perry’s outrageous comments are the latest indication that this administration will do everything in its power to put polluter profits ahead of science and public health,” said Sierra Club Climate Policy Director Liz Perera.
“Perry has the science exactly backward,” complained Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Far from being climate change’s key cause, the world’s oceans are actually another victim of greenhouse pollution,” Wolf asserted in The Washington Post.
In a story headlined, “Rick Perry Denies Climate Change Role of CO2,” InsideClimate News labeled the energy secretary, “the second of President Donald Trump’s cabinet members to go on television to publicly dismiss the importance of CO2 in global warming, ignoring the scientific evidence.”