Energy Secretary Rick Perry admitted Thursday that climate change is a “threat to our nation” and that it is contributing to the recent spate of extreme weather slamming the country.
But he still wants to burn more fossil fuels because he refuses to accept the basic science that climate change is caused by carbon pollution.
Apparently, the Energy Secretary is still smarting from his June encounter with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). As we reported at the time, Perry lost his cool when Franken confronted him with well established climate science–namely that scientists’ best estimate is that humans are responsible for all recent warming.
When asked about climate change at a House hearing Thursday, Perry gave a rambling answer in which he said, “I was in the Senate and one of the senators said, ‘Climate change is 100 percent man’s fault.’ I don’t believe that. I don’t believe climate change is 100 percent man’s fault.”
For the record, in their 2013 assessment, the world’s top climatologists concluded that “the best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.” In other words, the scientific evidence suggests that humans are responsible for all of the warming we have suffered since 1950 — 100 percent of it.
That finding was signed off on by all the world’s major governments. Perry may consider it “indefensible” as he told Franken, but it’s not controversial to anyone but climate science deniers.
The problem for Perry is that if human activity is entirely the cause of recent warming — as the best science says — then obviously the entire solution must involve changing human activity, switching from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy, and so on. But those solutions are precisely what deniers like Perry oppose. Indeed, the hearing was held so that Perry could defend his idea that coal plants should be given bigger subsidies.
Perry has proposed a rule for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that subsidizes any electricity plant that keeps 90 days’ worth of fuel onsite. (Wind and solar do not count as “on site.”) In his defense of the proposed rule, Perry told the House members he had not done a cost-to-customers analysis. He also said the rule was not necessarily supported by evidence. Instead, he told lawmakers, he was going off his “life experiences.”
Independent analysis has indicated the rule would increase costs and would not necessarily improve reliability.