The new Republican candidate, Rick Perry, is what many Republicans (such as Michele Bachmann) call a liberal. Maybe that just means that he does not scream and condemn all his opponents to Hell. He speaks smoothly and politely. But his approach to science, and therefore perhaps to all of the data of reality, puts him in with people like Bachmann who just make things up and expect us to believe them.
First, Rick Perry tells us that global warming is not happening. He says this despite the fact that his state, Texas, has already suffered $5.2 billion of damage from a year-long drought and its current heat wave. It is an unprecedented environmental catastrophe in Texas. He offered no evidence. He simply said, “from my perspective,” global warming is not reliable science. He used that phrase twice. Has he studied the issue? No, nor did he make any such claim. He just chooses not to believe it, and that settles it. But his position is rather frightening. Not only does he oppose taking actions to reduce our carbon emissions and to promote alternative energy sources, but he says we should not even be studying the issue. This seems to imply that he would have NASA and NOAA discontinue their investigations. Or else, might he require them to reach his conclusions?
Of course, Michele Bachmann uses even worse logic about global warming. In 2006, she said that we do not need to worry about global warming because Jesus has already saved the world. Of course, she does not say, “We do not need to worry about the economy, because Jesus has already saved the world,” or “We do not need to worry about terrorism, because Jesus has already saved the world.” She just picks out environmental issues and says, don’ worry, be happy.
Second, Rick Perry has come out against evolution. Typical of his smooth style, he did not say (as did the church marquee; see previous blog entry) that anyone who accepts evolutionary science is going to Hell. His words were almost innocuous. He said “It’s a theory that’s out there, and it’s got gaps.” He went on to say that “…in Texas, we teach both creation and evolution, and I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.” The problem is that he just presented his personal opinion as being the final conclusion of the matter. It does not require any further thought. He was even wrong about what is taught in Texas. They do not, as a matter of fact, teach creation in Texas (at least, according to the state guidelines). He has a right to his opinion, but he wants to make his opinion into federal policy if he is elected president.
Conservatives just make stuff up. To a conservative, it is not what you know, but what you believe. You can create reality by believing something to be true or untrue.
The rest of the world should be alerted that, if we have a Republican president starting in 2013, the United States will do absolutely nothing about global warming, and if Obama remains president, the Republicans will continue to prevent him from taking action. Rest of the world, take note: You will have to take the lead on resolving global warming, because the United States will not, and we may even discontinue researching it or paying attention to it. You will have to solve the problem without us. The same is also true of scientific leadership. Scientific research, in the United States, may soon become a mere restatement of Republican beliefs, no more to be trusted than Lysenkoist genetics from Soviet Russia. Rest of the world, take note: You will have to take the lead in scientific research, because the United States will not. The United States will ride the falling stars of fossil fuel dependence and creationism until they, and we, crash.