GOP Debate Fireworks: Perry Doubles Down on Climate Denial, Huntsman Says GOP Can't Run from Science

The first major GOP debate to feature firebrand Rick Perry went pretty much as expected on the green front: lots of calls for more drilling, plenty o' climate change denyin', and ample confusion about science itself. Here's what you need to know:After longshot candidate Jon Huntsman was asked about his 'controversial' pro-science tweet, he reiterated his previous claim that no Republican can succeed while turning his or her back on science (See video above).

Rick Perry, who has previously stated that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by data-manipulated scientists, was asked to name a single scientist whose work he thinks is accurate. He was, of course, unable to name one. He then reverted to standard GOP boilerplate, and again claimed that the "science isn't settled" (by now, that's the oldest climate policy trick in the book -- and it's entirely false. 97-98% of climate scientists believe that human activity is warming the planet).

Huntsman, well aware of this, said the following: "When you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call to question evolution, all I'm saying is that in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."

Perry also made an ill-advised leap into the annals of history, comparing people that believe in global climate change to the anti-science mobs who persecuted Galileo for saying the Earth revolved around the sun. I think that's what he was trying to do, anyways -- he seemed so confused by the words cascading out of his mouth that it's hard take him seriously. Especially because the metaphor makes no sense at all. If we lived in Galileo's time, HunterTK quipped on Twitter, "Perry would be rather firmly on the side of the Inquisition against him."

Newt Gingrich said that to create jobs, he would "liberate" the parts of Alaska protected as national parks and wildlife reserves and turn them over to the oil industry for development. Mitt Romney, though less colorful in his speech on the topic, has vowed to do the same. Romney also took a potshot at green jobs, claiming Obama hadn't created any. The League of Conservation Voters, however, fact checked that claim, noting that there "are already 2.7 million jobs across the clean energy economy with the clean energy sector growing at a rate of 8.3 percent. Clean energy is already proving to be larger job creation engine than the heavily subsidized fossil-fuels sector, putting Americans back to work in a lackluster economy."

Michele Bachmann, for her part, was asked whether she still thought it was a good idea to drill in the Everglades (she's twice said that she would). She deflected the question, implying that yes, she's still game to drill in the fragile ecosystem and beloved national park -- a beloved national park that helps stimulate a major part of Florida's economy through tourism, to boot.

All told, there were few surprises -- except, perhaps, for the fact that the more extreme candidates didn't really make an effort to back away from their incendiary views. If any of these candidates (aside from Huntsman and maybe Romney) were indeed somehow to win the presidency, the American environment would truly be in a world of hurt.

Tags: Global Climate Change | United States