Impeach Perry: The US Energy Secretary Is a Science-denying Ideologue
June 23, 2017 Joe Romm / Climate Progress
After a week full of misleading and inaccurate statements, Energy Secretary Rick Perry remained incredulous and defiant when confronted with climate science-related facts in a Senate budget hearing. Monday on CNBC, Perry falsely claimed that carbon dioxide was not the primary cause of recent global warming, along with a bunch of other nonsense. He also defended his right to be a "skeptic."
Rick Perry Loses His Cool When Confronted by
Sen. Al Franken on Climate Science Joe Romm / Climate Progress
(June 22, 2017) -- After a week full of misleading and inaccurate statements, Energy Secretary Rick Perry remained incredulous and defiant when confronted with climate science-related facts in a budget hearing Thursday.
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) informed Perry that scientists have concluded that "humans are entirely the cause" of recent warming, to which Perry responded, "I don't believe it" and "I don't buy it."
And when Franken reminded him this was the conclusion of a team of climate science skeptics funded by conservative petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch, Perry raised his voice and said: "To stand up and say that 100 percent of global warming is because of human activity, I think on its face, is just indefensible."
What is indefensible is that the US Secretary of Energy continues to reject established climate science and remain completely impervious to facts -- which was made all too clear by a review of this week's events.
Monday on CNBC, Perry falsely claimed that carbon dioxide was not the primary cause of recent global warming, along with a bunch of other nonsense. He also defended his right to be a "skeptic."
On Wednesday, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) wrote Perry a letter informing him that he was simply wrong. The central role of greenhouse gases -- of which CO2 is the "most important" -- is "based on multiple independent lines of evidence that have been affirmed by thousands of independent scientists and numerous scientific institutions around the world," the letter read.
The AMS called these "indisputable findings," and pointed out, "we are not familiar with any scientific institution with relevant subject matter expertise that has reached a different conclusion."
The AMS also explained that while some aspects of climate science are not fully resolved, this wasn't one of them, adding, "skepticism that fails to account for evidence is no virtue."
On Thursday, at an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Franken asked Perry to defend downplaying the role of CO2 -- and Perry reiterated his denial. Oblivious, Perry repeated, "what's wrong with being a skeptic?"
Perry went on to call for a so-called "red team" exercise where scientists argue back and forth with a "blue team" on the issue. "But that is exactly how science works," replied Franken, with teams of scientists pushing back and forth on one another until a consensus is reached.
Franken then pointed out that the Koch brothers had actually helped set up a "red team" of skeptics to take a new look at all of the historical data on global surface temperatures. He then quoted what the head of that team, Dr. Richard Muller, said in the New York Times about their findings:
Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.
At that moment in the questioning, Perry lost his composure, not merely rejecting this scientific reality but asserting angrily that it is "just indefensible."
For the record, not only is it defensible, but in 2013, the world's leading climatologists concluded in their summary of the latest science that "the best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period."
To clarify this science-speak from UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the best estimate is that humans are responsible for all of the warming we have suffered since 1950. Every major government in the world signed off on this conclusion back in 2013.
But the US Energy Secretary is not just unaware of the science; when presented with it, he's sure it can't be true. That's what makes him a denier and not a skeptic.
Dr. Joe Romm is Founding Editor of Climate Progress, "the indispensable blog," as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman describes it.