A quote from this past evening’s Republican debate:
HARRIS: Governor Perry — Governor Perry, Governor Huntsman were not specific about names, but the two of you do have a difference of opinion about climate change. Just recently in New Hampshire, you said that weekly and even daily scientists are coming forward to question the idea that human activity is behind climate change. Which scientists have you found most credible on this subject?
PERRY: Well, I do agree that there is — the science is — is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at — at– at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just — is nonsense. I mean, it — I mean — and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.
But the fact is, to put America’s economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country is not good economics and I will suggest to you is not necessarily good science. Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy.
1. Governor Perry’s background in science includes unabashed support for Creation Science, which is not anything remotely related to science. He has shown a clear pattern of not understanding science. He is attempting here to show a dichotomy where none exists. He seems to say that moving away from oil and investing in alternative energy would be bad for the economy. Instead, he insists in marrying the United States to high oil prices dictated by foreign nations instead of fostering the growth of solar and other industries in the United States … all the time watching foreign companies take the lead. No one is saying cut off the U.S. from oil immediately, but a failure to plan for the future ties the American economy to highly unstable regimes in the Middle East that have a history of turning on the United States.
2. Having said this, there is a kernel … a small kernel of truth to what he says … there is not 100% certainty on the role of human energy use on global warming. There is no doubt that global warming is taking place. There is as close as one may get to 100% certainty that human energy use is contributing to this effect. The exact number is a debate. I will agree with the governor that, at least publicly, we should not be embracing greener technology for the sake of a bunch of tree hugging idealist that know about as much about climate as George W. Bush did … but there are solid short term and long term economic reasons to support green technologies.
3. I will also disagree with the governor on scientific grounds. Scientific theories are very much largely settled ideas. Gravity is a theory … we don’t hold up NASA’s budget because gravity has some details remaining to be worked out. The fact that global warming is a strongly established model based on a number of theories, all accepted by science around the world, does not mean we ignore problems for the sake of details.