Thursday, September 8, 2011

Beneath contempt, item # 3,602

Here's a bit of Rick Perry's take on climate change, from last night's display of Republican idiocy.

PERRY: Well, I do agree that there is -- the science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we
would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.


But the fact is, to put America's economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country is not good economics and I will suggest to you is not necessarily good science. Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy.


HARRIS: Just to follow up quickly. Tell us how you've done that.  (APPLAUSE)
Are there specific -- specific scientists or specific theories that you've found especially compelling, as you...(CROSSTALK)


PERRY: Let me tell you what I find compelling, is what we've done in the state of Texas, using our ability to regulate our clean air. We cleaned up our air in the state of Texas, more than any other state in the nation during the decade. Nitrous oxide levels, down by 57 percent. Ozone levels down by 27 percent.


(The Republican Debate at the Reagan Library - NYTimes.com http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/us/politics/08republican-debat...)

This is totally laughable. Galileo wasn't "outvoted": he was threatened with torture and possibly death by the Inquisition in Rome, the exact analog of the present-day anti-science religious fundamentalists to which Perry so publicly and proudly belongs. In fact, serious astronomers and mathematicians largely supported Galileo, but were afraid to say so publicly lest they be broken on the rack or have their insides punctured by iron spikes (the way many religious folks have historically determined truth).

Perry, like just about every anti-science person, doesn't understand science. Science makes hypotheses and tests them. If they are contradicted by observation then they are rejected. However, even if 1000 experiments support  a theory, it is not "settled" permanently and absolutely: it is considered provisionally correct, with the warning that future experiments or observations may show it to be false. (This happened last century with Newton's venerable theory of gravity.) Only religious pronouncements are given absolutely and they almost never stand the test of observation (see Galileo and the Inquisition, e.g.).

The fact that every scientific society and maybe 98% of scientists not only believe in global warming, but also believe that it is largely human-caused is about as close to total scientific support as has ever, historically, been the case for a theory. Yet, even then, any true scientist will still hold that is may turn out to be wrong. However, this kind of honesty is just about the opposite position from that of the total know-nothings like Perry and his followers.

Finally, there is the garbage that Perry throws in about pollution: as a distraction from the follow up question about climate change. The only reason that Texas cleaned up as much of its pollution as it did -- and it still has some of the most toxic water and air in the country -- is that the EPA -- which Perry loves to hate -- made it do so. There are literally hundreds of articles documenting this; here's one from Bloomberg BusinessWeek. A majority of Americans are still supporters of the EPA -- they don't like to breath noxious air and don't like industrial waste contaminating their kids' bodies and minds.

Yet the Republicans are repeating over and over the Big Lie that cleaning our environment is bad for business.

Recently there have been a bunch of interviews with business execs from small and medium-size companies, about federal regulations. Almost unanimously they say that the regulations are not a significant problem for them; rather, they say, it is the lack of consumer spending, difficulty in getting financing,  and high insurance costs that prevent them from expanding and hiring. Here is a recent and well-publicized survey from McClatchy News. This is exactly the opposite of the stories that Republicans are making up.

Alright, there I go again: What part of "beneath contempt" don't I understand?

1 comment:

  1. It's really nice to read your rants. When I hear outrageous stuff such as the Galileo material I start screaming, and it is unpleasant for my somewhat genteel spouse. Just as I begin to feel guilty, I see that you are as outraged as I. It's wonderfully confirming.

    I guess that it's not that we're becoming more unpleasant as we age. Rather, it's that the times are truly becoming more and more outrageous!

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