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Gingrich: “It’s an act of egotism for humans to think we’re a primary source of climate change.”

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"Gingrich: “It’s an act of egotism for humans to think we’re a primary source of climate change.”"

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And yet more pro-pollution falsehoods: “There’s no evidence in American history that regulations … work to create a better future.”

UPDATE:  I forgot about this amazing Gingrich video from 2007 in which he said, “the evidence is sufficient that we should move towards the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon loading in the atmosphere…. And do it urgently, yes.”

Grist dissects former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in an interview.

Gingrich has long been an just another anti-science conservative eco-fraud pretending to care about the environment who adopted the anti-regulation, pro-technology approach suggested by GOP strategist, Frank Luntz, and popularized by his protege, George Bush (see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah” and “Eco-fraud Gingrich has always opposed clean energy, climate action“).

The only “news” Gingrich makes is that he keeps fooling the media with his poll-tested disinformation (see “NYT’s Andy Revkin and E. O. Wilson get suckered by Newt Gingrich’s phony techno-optimism and Slate and the Post are suckered by anti-environmentalist Newt Gingrich).

Here’s some of the nonsense he told Grist:

Q. What is your position on climate change? How much of a threat do you think it poses?

A. It’s an act of egotism for humans to think we’re a primary source of climate change. Look at what happened recently with the Icelandic volcano. The natural systems are so much bigger than manmade systems. I am very dubious about claims that we know precisely what’s going to happen. And I’m very suspicious of the use of those claims to create much larger governments with much greater bureaucratic controls over our life.

How anyone still considers Gingrich a smart man is a mystery to me.  How does the Icelandic volcano undercut the staggeringly vast amount of evidence — and basic physics — that humans are a primary source of climate change?  Indeed, it is a pretty fringe position even in the ‘respectable’ anti-science crowd to assert humans are not a primary source of climate change.  They mainly (falsely) assert it’s not the primary source, that the climate hasn’t changed much, and that it’s not going to change much in the future.

I would note that in his 2007 book, A Contract with the Earth, he wrote of “carbon emissions that contribute to the warming trend most climate experts have documented.”  His finger-in-the wind positions are uber-malleable.

Q. In 2008, you appeared in an ad with Nancy Pelosi in which you said that America “must take action to address climate change.” Why have you flip-flopped?

A. I haven’t flip-flopped. The actions I would take would include nuclear power and the use of renewables. For much less cost than what Al Gore wants to spend, you can incentivize dramatic changes.

Q. I’m sorry, I’m confused. You’ve said on the one hand you’re not sure climate change is human-caused. On the other, America should take action to address climate change.

A. I think the carbon of the atmosphere is something we should deal with. To give you an example, if you had the same percent of American electricity from nuclear that you get in France, you would take 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year out of the atmosphere.

Q. You have applauded CEOs of GE and Duke Energy and Wal-Mart and other major industry executives for leading environmental progress in the country. These same executives are supporting a regulatory cap on carbon, saying they need federal regulations that provide market certainty.

A. What they are really telling you? They’re telling you they are so afraid that the Environmental Protection Agency will be used that they would rather have a law than have the Environmental Protection Agency make their life even more miserable.

Q. So you think these people actually aren’t concerned about climate change and don’t support a cap on carbon emissions?

A. I’m just saying there are a lot of people who are driven to take positions because they are genuinely afraid the government will make their life even more miserable through regulatory devices.

The interview goes on an on and on in this way.

Q. You have supported nuclear, solar, wind, smart grid, and other emerging technologies. Do you see incentives as the only way to push these markets to evolve?

A. Absolutely. There’s no evidence in American history that regulations and punishments work to create a better future.

Q. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are widely lauded as successful legislation. Would you support rolling them back?

A. Depends on what you mean by rolling back.

Q. Do you think the government should have specific targets for clean water and clean air that can’t be surpassed?

A. Not necessarily.

Q. You don’t think a law should say the air has to be X percent clean?

A. No, I don’t.

Actually, there’s a staggering amount of evidence that regulations have created a better future — providing clean air and clean water — here for instance:

Retrospective Study, 1970 to 1990 – On October 15, 1997, EPA issued the first in this series of reports, entitled “The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act, 1970 to 1990,” following completion of a six-year process of study development and outside expert review. The report shows that the public health protection and environmental benefits of the Clean Air Act exceeded the costs of its programs by a large margin.

Indeed, there is no evidence that subsidies (alone) for energy technologies have ever lead to a net reduction in pollution.  Quite the reverse.

But it is good to see Grist give Gingrich enough rope to hang himself on his extremist views, which can now be accurately characterized as anti-science and pro-pollution.  He fundamentally wants dirtier air and dirtier water for your children.  Plus a ruined climate.

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34 Responses to Gingrich: “It’s an act of egotism for humans to think we’re a primary source of climate change.”

  1. Daniel Ives says:

    “Look at what happened recently with the Icelandic volcano.”

    So, assuming Gingrich knows that volcanic eruptions tend to have a cooling effect on climate (I know, big assumption), will he be scratching his head if 2010 becomes a record-smashing year in terms of sea ice, global temperature, etc.? Or will he and other conservatives simply continue to spout off this anti-science bullshit?

    It is frustrating and quite sad that this man is considered a possible 2012 Presidential candidate.

  2. Prokaryote says:

    Human Error.

  3. Peter Mizla says:

    What has Newt done to reign in his ego these days

    perhaps he needs to take a basic course in physics & climatology–it could do wonders.

  4. Once again we are left wondering “Is this man stupid or evil?”

    We can no longer label political opportunism as a nuisance that we tolerate just to be civil. Wielding intentional ignorance does great harm.

    How is it that such influential people like Gingrich let go of their brains and ethics? And why do we tolerate it?

  5. Prokaryote says:

    I recently read an neuroscience article about brain scans and distinctive brain activity of socio-psychopaths. Maybe in the future brain scans are required for decision makers. The survival of the human species is at stake.

  6. Peter Mizla says:

    I guess Newt is taking talking points from the ultra right wing republican consultant Frank Luntz- a man of deplorable qualities.

  7. mike roddy says:

    Gingrich is a power mad opportunist, and is taken seriously only by polluting corporations who think they can use him. His failed attempts to become president have unmoored him, driving the more recent efforts to sell himself to get back on the big stage.

    Fortunately the Republicans have enough common sense to avoid giving him a shot to be president. Fox has been giving Newt a podium lately as some sort of silver haired statesman, mostly because the Republican alternatives are just too weird- Palin, Barbour, and even Pawlenty. The rank and file will draw the line here, though. They don’t care if Gingrich sells out to whoever will pay, but his rancid personal history makes Larry Craig and Rudy Giuliani look like innocents.

  8. mike roddy says:

    Richard Pauli, the answer to your question comes from Werner Herzog, the great German director:

    “Stupidity and evil are the same thing. If you don’t believe me, look into the eye of a chicken.”

  9. Esop says:

    These antiscience clowns accepted that the relatively minor outbreak of the Icelandic volcano had an effect on the atmosphere, yet, they refuse to accept the fact that emissions of 30 billion tons of a known greenhouse gas, year in and year out will have an effect. Utterly amazing.

  10. Leif says:

    To the clean air act I would add:
    Building Codes,
    Heath codes,
    Safety codes,
    Nutritional codes,
    Even oil drilling codes before evisceration.

  11. Lou Grinzo says:

    Gingrich, who thinks he still matters in American politics and no doubt still wants to be President, is accusing other people of displaying “an act of egotism”???

    Excuse me, I’ve been overcome by irony, and must rest in a quiet room for a few minutes.

  12. robert says:

    Here’s an act of egotism:

    “Hello, my name is Newt. I have no scientific training whatsoever. While the National Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society and roughly five dozen other prestigious scientific societies and organizations have all issued explicit statements asserting, to a high level of scientific confidence, that humans are the principle drivers of the current warming — I disagree.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    I read the interview.

    like the interviewer, I found his answers confusing, and inconsistent.

  14. Daniel Ives says:

    @ robert #10

    Excellent statement!

  15. Gingrich obviously knows a lot about acts of egotism but very little about the science of global warming.

  16. Dear Mr. Gingrich;

    Scientists have multiple lines of evidence that CO2 has been Earth’s thermostat for many millions of years.

    For the last 800,000 years, CO2 values have ranged between 190 ppm and 300 ppm every 100,000 years or so. The present day value of CO2 has far exceeded that range and has done so at an extraordinarily fast rate.

    How fast you ask?

    At 2 ppm rise per year, humans are increasing CO2 at a rate that is almost 2,000 times that of the natural rate over the past hundreds of thousands of years! Care to retract your foolish statement?

    Scott A. Mandia, Professor of Physical Sciences
    Selden, NY
    My Global Warming Blog

  17. TomG says:

    He’s flip flopping like a fish out of water.
    Sorta like that last Republican guy that ran for President.

  18. max says:

    I agree with the above but since Joe is often discussing the way to message appropriately to have the maximum impact I think that Newt’s statement: “I am very dubious about claims that we know precisely what’s going to happen. And I’m very suspicious of the use of those claims to create much larger governments with much greater bureaucratic controls over our life.” does have a certain resonance with a lot of people and this is the rhetoric that needs to be confronted head on and disproved and shown to be the sophistry it is for the pro-science crowd to turn the tide.

    BTW-Does anyone remember Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle wrt the benefits of gov regulation?

  19. Ron Broberg says:

    Dancing on the head of a pin.

  20. Doug Bostrom says:

    Building codes? Sewer and water systems? Drug regulation? Food inspections? None of those have any utility?

    Why is Gingrich even listened to, anyway? He was booted out of office in the middle of his own sex scandal after having lead the country on a ridiculous charade centered on an over-active endocrine system that happened to be located in the body of Bill Clinton, same as what is apparently harbored in many politicians including Gingrich himself. Gingrich rummaged around in Bill Clinton’s shorts, found what many of us have “down there” and thus embarrassed the entire country.

    What’s wrong with us, that we’d elevate such a person to the position of “thought leader?”

  21. t_p_hamilton says:

    I would like to poll-test this to see how it flies:

    Q. What is your position on the BP oil spill? How much of a threat do you think it poses?

    A. It’s an act of egotism for humans to think we’re a primary source of pollution. Look at what happened recently with the Icelandic volcano. The natural systems are so much bigger than manmade systems. I am very dubious about claims that we know precisely what’s going to happen. And I’m very suspicious of the use of those claims to create much larger governments with much greater bureaucratic controls over our life.

  22. Mossy says:

    Off topic, but am looking for further explanations of Harry Reid’s plan to amend S.3516, “The Outer Continental Shelf Reform Act of 2010″ (the Oil Spill Bill), with an attached “Manager’s Amendment” . This is propsed to include some sort of comprehensive energy/climate package and should be unveiled after July 4th. And how does this fit in with the Kerry Liberman bill?

  23. Michael Tucker says:

    Joe, the Newt-ster is decidedly NOT SMART but people are not paying attention to him or any of the other conservative / libertarian candidates, pundits, and politicians because they are smart. Their ideas do not need to make sense or be logical. They simply need to express the correct opinion that a certain segment of the population wants to hear. That opinion is: no more taxes and stop government spending.

    Remember, these are the same folks who keep referring to the Gulf blowout as a natural disaster. They are not deep thinkers by any stretch of the imagination. So, global warming is not ‘primarily’ caused by burning fossil fuels and to solve it we need to build more “nuclear power [plants] and the use of renewables” even if “natural systems are so much bigger than manmade systems” that our efforts cannot possibly make a difference. Their reasoning does not need to make sense!

  24. Keith says:

    Unlike the fools of Shakespearean tragedies, this fool speaks no wisdom.

  25. Richard Brenne says:

    Gingrich, the child of two teenage parents, was a teenage groom, marrying his former high school geometry teacher after receiving extra credit for something about angles.

    After receiving his PhD in Blowhardary from Tulane he went on to teach at West Southwest Georgia Geometry Teacher’s College where he focused on buffoonery.

    When his first wife was in the hospital following cancer surgery he visited her to discuss details of their divorce and remarried about 15 minutes later.

    He was cheating on his second wife from before Clinton’s 11-time, 16-month tawdry Lewinsky affair to after Clinton’s impeachment, when he married his mistress, this time waiting a good 20 minutes after his divorce.

    After taking out his contract on America and shutting down the federal government because of an especially uncomfortable seat on Air Force One, Gingrich has now authored his latest tome, “Contract On Earth.”

    Among Republicans, conservatives and everyone at Fox News, this Blowhard Hillbilly is an intellectual and moral giant.

  26. Paulm says:

    I think the stress of the impending doom of climate change has got to him.
    The guy is a fruit cake.

  27. villabolo says:

    Esop says:
    June 30, 2010 at 11:42 am

    “These antiscience clowns accepted that the relatively minor outbreak of the Icelandic volcano had an effect on the atmosphere, yet, they refuse to accept the fact that emissions of 30 billion tons of a known greenhouse gas, year in and year out will have an effect. Utterly amazing.”
    ************************************************************************

    To those who want a brief retort to the “Volcano nonsense” I recommend you tell the person you are conversing with the following:

    John Doe: Volcanoes emit more Carbon Dioxide than Man does.

    You: The United States Geologic Service says that Humans emit 130 times more Carbon Dioxide than Volcanoes. You can check this out for yourself by Googling, Volcanic-Gases-Carbon-Dioxide. Then look for a citation under USGS.

  28. villabolo says:

    Prokaryote says:
    June 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

    “I recently read an neuroscience article about brain scans and distinctive brain activity of socio-psychopaths. Maybe in the future brain scans are required for decision makers. The survival of the human species is at stake.”
    ************************************************************************

    You are absolutely on the right track Prokaryote.

    Only problem is, that these decision makers will prevent such a law from being passed. Keep in mind that they make up a substantial portion of all “leaders” at the top of any hierarchy

  29. ozajh says:

    Prokaryote #5,

    OT, but I had not realised until today that you had replied to my comment on 22nd June about enhanced evaporative cooling. I’m in a different time zone.

  30. Regarding my comment #16:

    I was oversimplifying by looking just at the peaks over time and not the rate of change to get to those peaks. It does appear that CO2 increased fairly rapidly (on natural scales) in the 5,000 years after deglaciation. If we use the current 2 ppm rate then we are increasing CO2 about 80 times faster than nature’s post-glaciation “fast” rate.

    Sorry for the mistake.

  31. jorleh says:

    US is now worse than communism, our future is in hands of rogues in US political and financial elite.

    Add rogues of the same ilk in EU, China and other totalitarian states ( about 100 ), and your days are reckoned.

  32. Scott says:

    8> mike roddy — but that chicken can dance!

    There isn’t much one can say about Newt anymore. He has proven himself a rank opportunist who will say almost anything to get some more press time. He’s a smart guy but, as someone else said, has become unmoored.

  33. Jim Groom says:

    Newt was a history professor, which is a freightening thing indeed. Sure glad that my professor did not share Newt’s take on things. As to his credentials to discuss science…well others have already placed the nails.

  34. J4zonian says:

    “There’s no evidence in American history that regulations and punishments work to create a better future.”

    So one of the chief spokeseople for the party that believes the answer to every problem is punishment and coercion (and borrowing from our children) doesn’t believe in punishment or coercion. Just one amazing line out of Newt. What fun! If only the future of civilization didn’t ride on such conversations… and such beliefs.

    In answer to richard pauli’s (#4) question, is this man stupid or evil? Gregory Bateson said evil was an epistemological mistake. So the answer is yes.