Perry’s Climate Lies Win 4 Pinocchios as Huntsman Aide Says GOP Can’t Win “If We Become the Anti-Science Party.”

NOTE:  I am scheduled to be on Keith Olbmermann’s COUNTDOWN on Current TV tonight at 8 pm on this very subject.

The Washington Post gave Texas governor and GOP and presidential candidate Rick Perry 4 Pinocchios for his Texas-sized lies about climate science.  The headline:  “Rick Perry’s made-up ‘facts’ about climate change.”

Today Perry labeled evolution “a theory that’s out there” that has “got some gaps.”  Almost immediately, fellow GOP hopeful — and geek wannabe —  Jon Huntsman tweeted from his iPhone:

Snap!  Of course, to the extent Huntsman thinks he has a chance at the nomination, they do call him crazy.

John Weaver, Huntsman’s chief strategist blasted Perry in a Wednesday WashPost story:

We’re not going to win a national election if we become the anti-science party.”

If?  The GOP hopefuls can be divided into those who are anti-science and those who are merely anti-solution.  From the perspective of future generations that is, as they say, a distinction without a difference.

Still, Weaver went after Romney, too:

The American people are looking for someone who lives in reality and is a truth teller because that’s the only way that the significant problems this country faces can be solved,” Weaver said. “It appears that the only science that Mitt Romney believes in is the science of polling, and that science clearly was not a mandatory course for Governor Perry.”

That is a hypocritical criticism coming from the Huntsman campaign — see “GOP contender Jon Huntsman stuns right by embracing climate science, but still tries to appease them by flip-flopping to oppose any action.”  I realize I am just a progressive with a physics degree, unskilled in the nuances of right-wing politics, but I can’t see any difference between Romney’s stance — somewhat pro-science, but fully anti-action — and Huntsman’s.

Getting back to Perry, here’s the Post‘s evisceration of his disinformation:

“I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climates change. They’ve been changing ever since the earth was formed. But I do not buy into, that a group of scientists, who in some cases were found to be manipulating this data.”

— Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Aug. 17, 2011

This is a pretty sweeping statement about global warming by the newly announced GOP candidate for president. Perry has long been a skeptic of the science behind global warming, having highlighted that stance in his book, “Fed Up!”

But these remarks, made in New Hampshire on Wednesday, seem to take his skepticism to a new level, with significant and specific allegations:

1. A substantial number of scientists have manipulated data so they will have dollars rolling into their projects.

2. Almost weekly or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.

How true is this?

The Facts

The question of whether humans have contributed to climate change in recent years has generated increasing skepticism among the American public, especially as proposals to deal with the problem, such as reducing carbon emissions, have come with high price tags. But Perry is wrong to suggest that that skepticism has gained strength among scientists.

To the contrary, various surveys of climate researchers suggest growing acceptance, with as many as 98 percent believing in the concept of man-made climate change. A 2010 study by the National Academy of Sciences, which surveyed 1,372 climate researchers, is an example of this consensus. After all, it was first established in 1896 that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could help create a “greenhouse effect.”

There have been similar studies by, among others, the United States Global Change Research Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Yes, there are a few skeptics in the field, but even they generally do not question that human activity is warming the climate. A collection of statements by various scientific societies that support the consensus on climate change can be found here.

In response to our queries, Perry spokesman Mark Miner sent us a link to something called the Petition Project, which claims to have collected the signatures of 31,487 “American scientists” on a petition that says there is “no convincing scientific evidence” that human release of greenhouse gasses will “cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate.” The petition is a bit old, having been started in opposition to the 1997 Kyoto agreement on global warming.

But this petition doesn’t back up Perry’s claim of a growing army of scientists opposed to the climate change theory.

Only 9,000 of the signers actually have PhDs, and the list of signers’qualifications shows only a relatively small percentage with expertise on climate research. (One study estimated that under the petition’s rather expansive definition of a “scientist,” more than 10 million Americans would be qualified to sign it.) Judging from news reports, the number of signers has barely budged from 2008, further undercutting Perry’s claim of a groundswell of opposition.

Another Perry spokesman, Ray Sullivan, provided linkstoanumberof recent articles that he said demonstrated skepticism in the scientific community. We reviewed the articles, and they are anecdotal in nature, not evidence of the groundswell of opposition suggested by Perry.

Despite our repeated requests, neither spokesman provided any evidence to back up Perry’s claim that “a substantial number of scientists … have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects” — perhaps because that particular scandal appears to be a figment of Perry’s imagination.

Perry appears to be referring to hundreds of e-mails that were stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain and then disseminated on the Internet in 2009. One e-mail made references to adding a “trick” in the data, leading climate change skeptics to claim the data was manipulated.

But, although Perry claimed the scientists “were found to be manipulating this data,” five investigations have since been conducted into the allegations — and each one exonerated the half-dozen or so scientists involved.

So, in contrast to Perry’s statement, there have not been a “substantial number” of scientists who manipulated data. Instead, there were a handful — who were falsely accused.

The Pinocchio Test

Perry’s statement suggests that, on the climate change issue, the governor is willfully ignoring the facts and making false accusations based on little evidence. He has every right to be a skeptic — all scientific theories should be carefully scrutinized — but that does not give him carte blanche to simply make things up.

Kudos to the Post for this solid debunking.

Related Post:


Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

I think an important question is: What level of ignorance is considered sufficient to disqualify a candidate for public office? Should we accept as a legitimate political difference a rejection of the germ theory of disease? The laws of thermodynamics? Conservation of energy? Where do we draw the line?

Maybe Perry is just cynically performing according to the desires of his funders, but the worry I have is with the electorate. Is there any standard that we are willing to sustain?

Of course, it could be that Perry is sincere. In which case, may I suggest a new word to characterize him? The word is ‘avidyagraha’; like Gandhi’s ‘satyagraha’ it is a Sanskrit portmanteau – in this case of ‘avidya’ (ignorance) and ‘agraha’ (persistence). I would define it as: the act of closing your eyes, putting your fingers in your ears, and going ‘lalalalalala!’, or the mental equivalent thereof.

4 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 8:21pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Storm kills visitor at open-air festival

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 3:13am

Jeffrey Davis · Top Commenter

The GOP became the anti-Science party as soon as they accepted the “Southern Strategy”. Reagan opened his 1980 campaign with a States Rights speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi (site of the murders of the 3 Civil Rights workers in 1964) and cemented it.

What made matters worse was Bush ignoring the 4th amendment and the GOP public acceptance of torture. Ignoring the 4th amendment divorced them from the Constitution. Accepting torture divorced them from any semblance of decency. Then, their love of Palin was the hat trick as they kissed sanity good bye.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 7:47pm

Johan Johansson · KTH

So just a few decades into the GOP war on reality someone on the inside starts to suspect that maybe, just maybe, being anti-science might be a problem? Well, clearly it’s not a problem according to the general public.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 8:14pm

Terry Gallagher · Chicago Theological Seminary

In the history of humankind, we have often demonstrated an amazing ability to deny uncomfortable truths and attempt to destroy the messenger who insists on presenting us the truth that says we need to change. Scientists are once again bearing the brunt of our feverous denials. But they should be used to it as we have done it often in the past as in “what do you mean the Earth isn’t Flat? Why that statement is heresy!

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 8:19am

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

“We’re not going to win a national election if we become the anti-science party.”.

So the point is not that they wont win the elections, but they should have some level of integrity and fairness.

Are the GOP a party of spineless, greed driven individuals who are not able to see the concept of this, providing for and nurturing our future?

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 8:29pm

mtmariner101 (signed in using Yahoo)

It is not clear who Huntsman and Romney are trying to appeal to with this position but any way you want to express it, delaying action for whatever reason will get us to the same place…the place we are in now…business as usual.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 7:33pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter.
7 Billion human beings dig up every bit of carbon that they can lay fingers on and burn it. Ever hour of everyday.. That won’t count at all.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 3:32am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Every bit of carbon , ………. they are drilling to 20.000 feet off Brazil..

Like · Reply · August 19 at 3:50am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

7 Billion human beings dig up every bit of carbon that they can lay fingers on and burn it.

Like · Reply · August 19 at 3:56am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

There’s the new question folks.

Like · Reply · August 19 at 3:59am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

All of this is new. In 5 years , everyone will follow you. They plead for help.
But there will be no answers , because nothing in the rocks has ever seen this.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 11:17pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

7 Billion human beings dig up every bit of carbon that they can lay fingers on and burn it. . That won’t count at all.

Like · Reply · August 18 at 11:26pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

There is nothing in earth’s history where one group of animals dug-up and burnt every bit of carbon they could lay their hands on.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 11:06pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Here again, media, concerned scientist and national academies need to weigh right away and put this guy in his place. There has be too much ‘let someone else sort out this messy area’ syndrome. Stand and be counted….

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 18 at 8:32pm

Nicholas Berini · Hoboken, New Jersey

Who knew it would be Huntsman (and not BO) to bring climate science towards main stream discussion.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 19 at 5:27pm

Comments are closed.