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. …

And it’s 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 aren’t 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” – 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.


  1. #1 twoyoungtwo
    August 17, 2011

    “Quite frankly, when science gets hijacked by the political Left, we should all be concerned. …”

    Thank you Gov. Perry, I couldn’t of said it better! Even during reading this quite “balanced”, “science” article your words shine through! Science is for everyone!

  2. #2 Jim Hardy
    August 17, 2011

    You should check you links for factual reference. For example, this link does not *clearly* refute that there is a cooling trend. As a matter of fact, it succinctly shows a bit of excellent debate on both sides, which you apparently chose to ignore in favor of your position. That said, I am a scientist and Born Again Atheist-Pastafarian and so you points on ID are well taken.

  3. #3 Sue
    August 17, 2011

    @Jim, #2: The article to which you refer says this:

    “No, it hasn’t been cooling since 1998. Even if we ignore long term trends and just look at the record-breakers, that wasn’t the hottest year ever. Different reports show that, overall, 2005 was hotter than 1998. What’s more, globally, the hottest 12-month period ever recorded was from June 2009 to May 2010.

    “Though humans love record-breakers, they don’t, on their own, tell us a much about trends — and it’s trends that matter when monitoring Climate Change. Trends only appear by looking at all the data, globally, and taking into account other variables — like the effects of the El Nino ocean current or sunspot activity — not by cherry-picking single points.

    “There’s also a tendency for some people just to concentrate on air temperatures when there are other, more useful, indicators that can perhaps give us a better idea how rapidly the world is warming. Oceans for instance — due to their immense size and heat storing capability (called ‘thermal mass’) — tend to give a much more ‘steady’ indication of the warming that is happening. Here records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there’s no signs of it slowing any time soon.”

    If that doesn’t clearly refute that there is a cooling trend, I’m not sure what would. (Please note that I am ignoring the comments on the article as they are not part of the article itself).

  4. #4 Ian
    August 17, 2011

    I, for one, am glad that we have people like Rick Perry to claim these things with a straight face. It means that I get to wake up every morning and be amazed every day.

    His comments about scientists being in it for the money is especially hilarious. Maybe we should all follow his lead and pray for new technology? After all, it’s free!

  5. #5 Erik in SD
    August 17, 2011

    Am I the only one that loves the irony of him talking about how “Global Warming has been politicized” immediately before he politicizes it?

    Sorry, Rick, it’s not the SCIENTISTS that have made it a polarizing issue: it’s you, and the morons who vote for you, who have turned it into a game of finger-pointing, rather than the humanistic call to action that it should be.

  6. #6 Dan Pangburn
    August 17, 2011

    According to NOAA at the oceans stopped warming about 8 years ago.

  7. #7 Rubble
    August 17, 2011

    Dan, you’re cherry picking.

  8. #8 Jean Gogolin
    August 17, 2011

    Rick Perry can write? A book? And someone taught him the word “draconian”?


  9. #9 Forest
    August 17, 2011

    Rick Perry wants climate change theory and evolutionary theory to be proven. Yet, there are no proven scientific theories anywhere. All theories are subject to change or modification pending new evidence or data which do not fit the existing theory. So the theory of gravitation, germ theory, atomic theory should all be: abandoned, tossed out, suspect, trashed, ridiculed. After all, the scientists who worked on those theories must also have been after money, personal power and world control. Rick’s view seems to be to attack scientists and their work if it does not fit his thinking. Rick, a theory is composed of many many observations, facts, data sets, trends, distributions, peer reviews, blind and double blind experiments, repetition and skeptical review. Theories are the best we have and will ever have. Rick, go back to grade 8 science and start there. Don’t act the moron.

  10. #10 Dan Pangburn
    August 18, 2011

    A simple equation based on the physical phenomena involved, with inputs of accepted measurements from government agencies, calculates the average global temperatures (agt) since 1895 (that’s 115 years and counting) with 88.4% accuracy (87.9% if CO2 is assumed to have no influence). See the equation, links to the source data, an eye-opening graph of the results and how they are derived in the pdfs at (see especially the pdfs made public on 4/10/10, and 3/10/11).
    The future average global temperature trend that this equation calculates is down.
    This trend is corroborated by the growing separation between the rising CO2 and not-rising agt. From 2001 through May, 2011 the atmospheric CO2 increased by 22.3% of the total increase from 1800 to 2001 while the average global temperature has not increased. The 22.3% CO2 increase is the significant measurement, not the comparatively brief time period.
    As the atmospheric CO2 continues to rise in the 21st century while the agt does not, more people will realize that they have been deceived.

  11. #11 Chris O'Neill
    August 18, 2011

    Rick Perry defends his climate change denial

    I think it would be better to use the term “climate science denial”. The term “climate change denial” lets you fall into the rhetorical trap that such people do not deny that climate changes. Using the term “climate change denial” is giving them a free kick.

  12. #12 Dan Pangburn
    August 19, 2011

    As has been shown, it is “climate JUNK SCIENCE denial”.

    Average global temperatures since 1895 are explained by natural phenomena. Human activity had no significant influence.

  13. #13 John S. Wilkins
    August 19, 2011

    He may look like an idiot, and talk like an idiot, but don’t let that confuse you. He really is an idiot. – Groucho, I think

  14. #14 Luke Scientiae
    September 6, 2011

    I have compiled a list of what all of the present Republican candidates think about climate and evolution. Have a look if interested:

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