House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he can’t be expected to know about climate science because he is “not a scientist.” Same for Florida Governor Rick Scott (R), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
But what happens when a highly educated guy who did study science in college wants to run for national office in a party that increasingly stands against facts and science? In the case of Louisiana Governor and perennial presidential wannabee Bobby Jindal (R), you act dumb and make tortuous statements.
At a breakfast organized by The Christian Monitor, Jindal was introduced as a biology major, Rhodes Scholar, and former President of the University of Louisiana System. Naturally, at one point HuffPost’s Howard Fineman said, “I want to ask a couple of science questions.”
Jindal cluelessly fails to see what’s coming and excitedly interjects “I’m a biology major.” Fineman is happy to repeat that point and, of course, then asks him a bunch of obvious science questions, including whether he accepts evolution.
So Jindal now feels compelled to explain, “I was not an evolutionary biologist.” Yeah, Jindal apparently got one of those Biology degrees from Brown University (with honors at the age of 20!) that doesn’t require learning about evolution — the central organizing principle of modern biology.
Jindal also launches into the standard conservative talking point that “local schools should make the decision about how they teach biology,” which is dog-whistle for “let them teach creationism if they want.” But Fineman gets Jindal to admit “I want my kids to be taught about evolution in their school.”
And why should Jindal care about what other people’s kids get taught — just because university scientists say that students who accept creationism “as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level”? It’s not like Jindal was President of “the nation’s 16th largest system of higher education” is it?
As an aside, recall that last year, Jindal gave a big speech saying the GOP “must stop being the stupid party.”
Before asking the evolution question, Fineman pressed Jindal on his absurd assertion that the Obama administration is “comprised of science deniers” supposedly because the record rate of expansion of U.S. coal, oil, and natural gas production isn’t fast enough for him.
When asked whether the climate is changing and whether human activity plays a role, Jindal says, “It’s not controversial to say that human activity is contributing in some way. The question is how serious that is.”
Okay, so how much of a contribution does human activity make to climate change and how serious is it? Jindal — who was “named to the 1992 USA Today All-USA Academic Team” and got a Masters degree from Oxford — pleads total ignorance:
I’d leave it to the scientists to decide how much, what it means, and what the consequences are…. Let the scientists debate and figure that out.
Memo to Jindal: The scientists figured all that out a while ago and have been repeating the answers year after year in an increasingly vocal chorus. For the record, the best scientific estimate is that human activity is responsible for all the warming since 1950. It “means” we have run out of time for the kind of anti-scientific BS you are pushing. And the consequences of inaction are catastrophic — especially for your home state of Louisiana.
Here, for instance, is a mid-range projection of what the state will look like by century’s end, especially if Jindal’s brand of “science” continues to be practiced by the GOP.
I don’t think you need to be a scientist or Rhodes Scholar to figure out that isn’t a desirable outcome.