Year 2, Month 10, Day 23: Governor Canute?

The Iowa State Daily, a college paper, comments on Rick Perry’s denial industry:

It is a sad time we live in when scientific findings are censored and silenced in favor of personal or political biases. This cannot be more apparent than in the recent example of Texan officials doing some unofficial editing of a environmental report.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has a contract with the Houston Advanced Research Center to report on the state of Galveston Bay, but their recent paper was apparently too full of references to climate change, destruction of wetlands or sea level to pass muster.

It’s probably not surprising, really, considering that the TCEQ has several top officials appointed by Rick Perry, who shares similar views on climate change.

This is a rehash of a number of earlier letters on similar themes. It’s too bad that this material continues to be relevant and useful. Sent October 19:

It was during the Bush presidency’s boom years that an unnamed administration official mocked journalist Ron Suskind as a member of the “reality-based community.” The aide went on to say that America was an empire, “and when we act, we create our own reality.” Of course, reality-based reality eventually caught up with the previous president and his team, most notably in the form of Hurricane Katrina and in the utter failure to find the Iraqi WMDs we were assured were there.

But the Republican party’s political experts still believe that troublesome facts can be negated with the right combination of photo opportunities, obfuscation, and stout denial. Maybe so, in the surreal world of electoral politics.

In the reality-based world, however, no amount of bluster can stop the rising sea levels in Galveston Bay, and denying ideologically inconvenient data can never be the foundation of good policy or good government.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 19: Sciencey Stuff Is Easy!

The SF Chronicle reports on Rick Perry’s new energy plan.

West Mifflin, Pa. — Texas Gov. Rick Perry sought to recharge his flagging presidential campaign Friday by introducing an energy plan that calls for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and expanding oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Perry said his proposals would kick-start the sluggish economy and create 1.2 million new jobs through development and by rolling back clean air rules and other federal regulations.

Why on earth would anyone trust this guy? Sent October 15:

The revelation that his administration purged any mention of rising sea levels and global climate change from a recent scientific report should be a warning to voters everywhere: Texas governor Rick Perry has a very tenuous relationship with the truth. This act of government censorship was so egregious that all of the scientists involved in the extensive environmental study have requested their names be removed from the document.

Needless to say, it behooves all of us to regard the Texas governor’s newly introduced energy plan with a substantial grain of salt. Mr. Perry’s readiness to ignore problematic truths is surely matched by an equal readiness to replace them with convenient falsehoods. Given Republican primary voters’ preference for tough-talking liars, this may be a sound political strategy, but to those who know both science and history, it resembles Soviet-style revisionism far more than the finest traditions of American democracy.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 6: Please Pass The Brain Bleach.

Another report on the Texas Tornado, this time from the Concord Monitor (NH):

One man challenged Perry about his skepticism of global warming. The man charged that Perry had ducked a question in a previous debate when moderators had asked him what sources served as his evidence.

“I’m ready for you this time,” Perry said, prompting a laugh. He went on to say that in recent weeks a “Nobel laureate of some acclaim,” whom he did not name, had decided there is no definite proof that global warming has been caused by humans. The audience applauded.

“For us to take a snapshot in time and say what is going on in this country today and the climate change that is going on is man’s fault and we need to jeopardize America’s economy,” he said. “I’m not afraid to say I’m a skeptic.”

For “skeptic” read “dingaling.” Sent October 2:

While Rick Perry feels the need to cite a “Nobel Laureate” to bolster his rejection of the near-universal scientific consensus on global climate change, he didn’t mention the hundreds of Nobelists in multiple disciplines who support the findings of the vast majority of the world’s climatologists.

Mr. Perry prefers the contrarian position of Dr. Ivar Giaever, a physicist who won the prize in 1973 for his work with semiconductors and superconductors, and whose climatological experience is limited to participation in a single discussion panel at a convention of Nobel laureates. He’s done no research in climate science and has no published papers in the field, despite a lucrative affiliation with petrol-subsidized conservative think tanks like the Cato Institute.

Mr. Perry’s rejection of science when it’s inconvenient to his political aspirations is contemporary Republican realpolitik at its best. A Nobelist’s opinion? Valid — if it supports his ideological preconceptions. Otherwise? “Junk science!”

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 5: Some Days These Letters Are No Damn Fun At All

The LA Times for September 30 reports on Rick Perry’s eagerness to embrace climate denial in all its forms:

At a New Hampshire town-hall style meeting, his first of the campaign, the Texas governor sparred Friday evening with a questioner who tried to pin him down on the issue. The man, whom Perry addressed as “Mike,” began by noting a 2011 report from a panel of experts chosen by the National Academy of Sciences, which concluded that climate change is occurring and “is very likely caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities.” The man noted that Perry had ducked—twice–when asked at the Reagan Library debate this month to name the scientists he found most credible on the subject.

Spending more than three seconds contemplating the vile opportunist that is Rick Perry is enough to send me screaming in search of a shower. Sent October 1:

Governor Perry’s rejection of climate change reflects the conservative base to which he must pander. In his public remarks on the subject, he’s frequently accused climate scientists of manipulating data in order to secure remunerative grants. Given the sordid history of Republican data-manipulation, this is projection at best, knowing hypocrisy at worst. Similarly, his readiness to accept the views of scientists when they bolster his preconceptions demonstrates that for Mr. Perry, like other GOP aspirants, ideology trumps reality.

Remember the Cheney doctrine that a miniscule chance of Iraqi WMDs was justification for an invasion? By all rules of logic, a similarly small probability that climate change is a genuine civilizational threat should galvanize us into action. However, since Republicans don’t “do” logic and are motivated only by nonexistent threats, the worldwide scientific consensus on climate change is sufficient only to trigger rhetorical posturing, and a grotesque rejection of genuine expertise.

Warren Senders