This week, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) left the campaign trail to respond to wildfires in Texas that he described as “surreal” and “as mean-looking as I’ve ever seen.” The fires, fed by a summer of heat and drought far beyond anything Texas has ever experienced before, have destroyed over 1,000 homes.
“The science is not settled on this,” Perry said at last night’s GOP debate, rejecting the fact of manmade global warming. “Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact,” comparing himself to Galileo, who was persecuted by religious leaders. Perry responded earlier this year to the Texas drought — then much weaker — by issuing an official proclamation to pray for rain.
ThinkProgress reporter Scott Keyes questioned the Perry campaign about whether the extreme heat, drought, and fires in his state have influenced Perry’s belief that global warming is a hoax concocted by scientists to get money. Mark Miner, Perry’s national press secretary affirmed that the “natural disaster” “doesn’t change his position”:
No, I mean this is a natural disaster going on in Texas right now. It’s a terrible situation. It doesn’t change his position. There are differing views. As president, you shouldn’t listen to one group and change all of our policies that are going to kill jobs just for the sake of one group.
Asked again if he sees a connection between global warming and the types of droughts and wildfires we’ve seen, Miner said that he thought the fires might have been started by arson, completely ignoring the question of how Texas got so dry and hot that its fires have become overwhelming.
Texan climate scientists do not agree with the Perry campaign, unsurprisingly. “We can be confident we’ve made this hellish summer worse than it would have been,” Texas A&M’s Dr. Andrew Dessler told NPR News about the effect of greenhouse pollution on Texas. Because of global warming pollution, Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon told ThinkProgress, “evaporation has been enhanced, soils and plants dried out faster, streamflow declined faster, and temperature records were easier to break.”