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New Mexico State University’s Next President May Be A Climate Science Denier

by Brad Johnson, campaign manager for Forecast the Facts

On Monday at 4 pm, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents is prepared to hold a public vote to choose the next president of New Mexico State University (NMSU), the major land-grant institution in Las Cruces, NM. One of the top candidates is Garrey Carruthers, a former Republican governor. Carruthers is also a climate-science denier who ran a tobacco-industry front group for years.

From 1993 to 1998, Carruthers was the chairman of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), a tobacco industry-funded lobby group that claims that the health risks of smoking and the threat of global warming are “junk science.”

Questioned last week by NMSU scientist Dr. Gary Roemer at an on-campus meeting on his candidacy to become university president, Carruthers asserted that there is not a scientific consensus on climate change. He continued: “I don’t know. I’m an economist. I don’t do global warming. It’s a scientific judgment that I can’t make.”

Dr. Roemer responded:

I think it’s pretty appalling that a presidential candidate for this university does not have a vision for dealing with the most serious environmental crisis that humanity and our Earth have ever faced.

In a telephone interview, Dr. Roemer confirmed that he finds fossil-fueled climate change to be a fundamental crisis.

Although Carruthers rejects the science of climate change, he has disavowed TASSC’s position on smoking. “I’m four-square against second-hand smoke,” Carruthers said in a recent interview with the Albuquerque Journal. “I don’t think people should smoke, and second-hand smoke is detrimental to other people’s health.”

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State Reps. Phillip Archuleta, Nate Cote, Bill McCamley, and Jeff Steinborn have written to the Board of Regents opposing the selection of a climate-change denier as New Mexico faces global-warming-fueled drought.

In response, the climate-science accountability group Forecast the Facts has launched a petition effort to mobilize against the selection of Carruthers. The signatures will be delivered at the open vote on Monday.