Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr/CC BY
Texas Governor Rick Perry is indeed, as many news outlet have noted, "coming out swinging" in the presidential primaries. He's already called for a moratorium on all regulations, blasted the chairman of the Federal Reserve as "treasonous", and, now, he's stating outright that he believes global warming is a hoax stirred up by scientists who "manipulated data".
That's right, folks. It is officially now acceptable for a mainstream presidential candidate -- and a potential frontrunner by many counts -- to deny a scientific body of evidence unequivocally agreed upon by the nation's, and the world's, science institutions. It is now acceptable to put bizarre conspiracy theories ahead of science itself. Here's the Associated Press:
Rick Perry says he does not believe in global warming. The newest Republican presidential candidate also says he would not have signed the debt-ceiling compromise brokered by Republicans and Democrats.Now, I realize this isn't news, insofar as it concerns Perry's beliefs. He has long denied the science of climate change, often vocally so. But it marks a new chapter -- a new low, really -- for what is, any way you cut it, an extremist, conspiratorial view: that conniving, greed-stricken scientists have concocted a nefarious plot to convince the world that global warming is real. This is literally what Rick Perry believes, and it was once relegated to the fringe.
The Texas governor made the comments as he launched a two-day New Hampshire campaign tour. He was speaking at a packed breakfast event with business leaders Wednesday. Perry said global warming is based on scientists manipulating data. He said he wouldn't devote federal resources to battling the environmental concern.
Compare that to Mitt Romney or John Huntsman, who say that they accept that climate change is real, but won't take action to address it. But Perry joins a growing list of increasingly mainstream candidates who hold extreme views about climate that aren't anchored in reality: Michele Bachmann is a famous climate naysayer, and Ron Paul has also described global warming as a hoax.
The fact is, extreme, evidence-free denial of climate change is ebbing into the mainstream right now, primarily because high-profile politicians and pundits are repeating climate misinformation like a mantra. Gone are the days when politicians needed to feign an understanding of climate issues, and to merely sow doubt as to whether action was needed. Gone are the days of Luntz and his memos. Remember, the U.S. Republican party is still the only major political party in the world that denies climate change. Today we face a rising tide of mindless reactionaries for whom climate denial is deeply and unshakably ideologically ingrained. And Rick Perry is now leading the charge.