Secretary of Energy Rick Perry denied basic climate science Monday. Perhaps worse, CNBC’s host failed to perform the most basic fact checking and just smiled in agreement.
In response to CNBC anchor Joe Kernen’s question, “Do you believe CO2 is the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate?” Perry, who oversees much of our nation’s climate science research, replied with classic climate science denial — plus some tautological gibberish:
“No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in,” he said.
To paraphrase, Perry apparently said that the environment is the control knob for changes in the environment. That’s impressive blather even for the guy who famously said, “Oops,” in 2011 when he couldn’t remember the third federal agency he wanted to shut down — which turned out to be the Department of Energy, where he is now in charge.
Perry’s denial of the role of CO2 in global warming is wrong, according to science.
A 2010 study by NASA scientists that was published in Science concluded that CO2 is “the principal control knob that governs the temperature of Earth” and “within only the past century, the CO2 control knob has been turned sharply upward toward a much hotter global climate” by humans.
In reality, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists — over 97 percent — understand that human-caused CO2 is the primary cause of climate change, and, thus, the primary solution to dangerous climate change is to slash CO2 as quickly as possible. Scientists are as certain of that as they are that cigarette smoking is dangerous and that slashing your use of tobacco is the best way to minimize health risks.
“The idea that science is just absolutely settled… that is so inappropriate from my perspective,” Perry said.
Equally remarkable was Kernan’s final comment on Perry’s nonsensical answer, reassuring Perry he wouldn’t be attacked as a denier after this interview: “That’s a pretty good answer that you gave there, I think you’re going to be fine.”
Ironically, when EPA chief Scott Pruitt defended his absurd claim that CO2 is not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see” on Fox News Sunday in early April, anchor Chris Wallace rebuked him: “Mr. Pruitt, there are all kinds of studies that contradict you.” Wallace quoted the key finding of the world’s top climatologists in a 2013 assessment that there is a 95 to 100 percent chance “human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
Indeed, the best estimate by scientists is that humans are responsible for all of the warming we have suffered since 1950. Every major government in the world signed off on this conclusion back in 2013.
The media should remember that the next time someone on team Trump tries to blow smoke in their face. In his CNBC interview, Perry conceded that the climate is changing and that man is having “an effect” — but then quickly added the “question should be just how much and what are the policies changes we need to make to affect that.”
That disclaimer is denier-speak for “the scientists really don’t know what’s going on or how to stop it, so let’s just burn more fossil fuels and kill all domestic and global climate action.”