In his book Fed Up, Rick Perry came out solidly in the climate denial camp, repeating long-discredited claims of that the underlying science is fraudulent. ThinkProgress quotes him writing:
For example, they have seen the headlines in the past year about doctored data related to global warming. They know we have been experiencing a cooling trend, that the complexities of the global atmosphere have often eluded the most sophisticated scientists, and that draconian policies with dire economic effects based on so-called science may not stand the test of time. Quite frankly, when science gets hijacked by the political Left, we should all be concerned. â¦
And itâs all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight. Al Gore is a prophet all right, a false prophet of a secular carbon cult, and now even moderate Democrats arenât buying it.
Perry was, it should be noted, Al Gore’s Texas committee chairman when Gore ran for President in 1988. And Perry must have missed the headlines when about a dozen separate investigations refuted claims of “doctored data” or other manipulation. The claim of a “cooling trend” is easily refuted, as are claims that climate science is too hard or that climate change policy would be too hard.
But on the stump in New Hampshire, Perry doubled down, telling reporters:
I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climates change. They’ve been changing ever since the earth was formed.
But I do not buy into that a group of scientists who have in some cases found to be manipulating this information and the cost to the country and to the world of implementing these anticarbon programs is in the billions if not trillions of dollars at the end of the day. And I don’t think, from my perspective, for America to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective is more and more being put into question.
Note the careful phrasing “was formed” â a creationist dogwhistle in the midst of his climate change denying rant. Note, too, his return to the “it’s just a theory” rhetoric pioneered by William Jennings Bryan in the era of the Scopes trial, and widely repeated by creationists and climate change deniers since then.
All of his substantive claims have been addressed long ago, but this isn’t about substance. It’s about claiming the “conservative white male” mantle of science denial, locking in that crucial demographic in a messy Republican primary battle.
For comparison, here’s his recent answer to a question about evolution:
There are clear indications from our people who have amazing intellectual capability that this didn’t happen by accident and a creator put this in place.
Now, what was his time frame and how did he create the earth that we know? I’m not going to tell you that I’ve got the answers to that. I believe that we were created by this all-powerful supreme being and how we got to today versus what we look like thousands of years ago, I think there’s enough holes in the theory of evolution to, you know, say there are some holes in that theory.
Texas Freedom Network notes that Perry has called himself “a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect,” adding that it should be taught in schools. He told a constituent:
Recognizing evolution is a theory, and not claimed by anyone to be more than that, the governor believes it would be a disservice to our children to teach them only one theory on the origin of our existence without recognizing other scientific theories worth consideration. Intelligent design is a concept that is gaining greater traction because it points to a notion that most people believe to be true: that we were created by an intelligent being who designed the human race with great detail and complexity.
To further that end, as TFN and Phil Plait point out, he’s appointed 3 successive creationist chairs of the Texas Board of Education. In 2009, the Board added creationist and climate change denying rhetoric to state standards. This year, the board voted not to force creationism into science supplements, but didn’t consider environmental science supplements, pushing that fight down the road.