Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson interviews the man behind HB 549. Rep. Read explains that he didn’t seek scientific comment before drafting his bill, and that he decided the legislature had to declare that global warming is not happening, is not caused by humans, and is good for Montana anyway because:
We canât wait for this issue to be settled. So the legislature is going to come in, and prevent something that potentially could destroy the economy of Montana and the United States.
He tells Johnson that he was reacting to federal climate policy, including forthcoming EPA regulations, as well as lawsuits against coal plants and coal mines. Explaining why he decided to skip the step of talking to scientists first, Read explains:
Sometimes you have to do fairly radical things to address a federal government.
For more on his “radical” plan, read the rest of the interview. It’s an interesting look inside the mind of a climate change denier, and where they’re coming from. For those of us who deal with science denial regularly, it’s hardly a surprising picture. Read is uninterested in the scientific literature. When pressed, he concocts a mistaken notion of science in which personal biases and the attractions of grant funding can overcome empirical evidence. It isn’t surprising that he’d think science works that way, because it’s the way he works. If the science is true, he thinks there would be bad consequences for himself and for the economic ideology he’s committed to. Rather than accepting the science, and thereby re-examining his ideology, he prefers to reject the science.
This is the dynamic around rejection of a range of scientific issues, from global warming to evolution to vaccines. And that’s what makes these things so hard to talk about: the folks defending science think it’s a conversation about science, while the folks attacking science think it’s a fight over cultural and political issues.