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Is it reasonable to compare Rick Perry to Galileo? [Most commented]

September 9, 2011 |  1:47 pm

Earth

Republican presidential candidate and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry was not shy about his views on climate change during Wednesday night’s debate. (Nor was he when he thought to "pray for rain.") As far as he’s concerned, the jury’s still out regarding global warming:

"Well, I do agree that there is -- the science is not settled on this," Perry said. "The idea that we would put Americans' economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just nonsense."

Although he linked himself to Galileo, his doubts about global warming led our editorial board to question how separate church and state are to him:

Perry went on to compare himself, or those who agree with him, to 17th century astronomer Galileo Galilei, who in Perry's words also "got outvoted for a spell" when he adopted a minority opinion on a scientific issue. It would be far more accurate to compare Perry to Pope Urban VIII, who put Galileo on trial for heresy in 1633 because his conclusions that the Earth revolved around the sun contradicted Scripture. All scientific theories have doubters, but what is remarkable about climate science is the degree of certainty and agreement among researchers. Huntsman's numbers are about right: In a survey last year by the National Academy of Sciences, 97% to 98% of climate researchers agreed with the premise that humans are causing climate change. At this point, the empirical evidence for warming, like the evidence for a heliocentric solar system or for evolution, is so strong that denial reflects a faith-based approach to public policy.

Comments ranged from sarcastic to serious and covered science as well as government. Here are a few from our discussion board:

Paradoxically…

Perry has NO faith in climate change, despite the overwhelming science supporting it, and yet he has TOTAL faith in religion, despite there being NO evidence it even exists.

Now folks, THAT'S the definition of irony.

-- DGates

Alternative explanation

Global Warming – It’s the Sun

Global warming might be taking place but solar activity, not human activity, is by far the main cause. Human-generated carbon dioxide accounts for less than one percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Higher temperatures increase emissions of carbon dioxide from plant-life and the sea. More than 17,000 scientists saw "no compelling evidence that humans are causing discernible climate change." The Kyoto Protocol or similar programs would cost economies hundreds of billions per year. Those programs would restrain temperature increases by less than one degree. Recent reductions in sunspots on the solar surface suggest that we may be entering into a cooling period. So we should wait before adopting draconian programs like cap and trade.

-- Aberloon

We’ve misunderstood science

All you anti-science lunkheads who think that science sets out to "prove" theories are just showing that you don't have the foggiest idea what you are talking about, and have a child's view of what the scientific method is.

A theory is a comprehensive set of ideas that attempts to explain a large body of evidence. Theories are never "proven."  All science can change based on new evidence.  But we have many scientific theories that are very adept at accurately explaining large bodies of facts.  Evolution, Atomic Theory, Relativity, Gravitational theory, Germ theory, etc. have all had long histories of explaining the facts we see.  Even more powerfully, theories can predict outcomes based on experiments. When theories make successful predictions, they grow even stronger and more accepted.  Manmade Climate Change is now one of these theories.

Many scientists would love to make a name for themselves by showing the theory is incorrect, but so far it has withstood the test.

Please try to do some research, and not on Republican or Oil-financed websites.  Look at real science that's been published.

-- jimby_99

Couldn’t the scientists be lying?

Did you ever think that many of the scientists could be in error? I guess not. The falsifying of data probably didn't enter your little minds. Perhaps the data was changed to get more grants? Follow the money. If that doesn't convince you of being skeptical try this:

Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.

“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

Amazing what you can find when you do some research!

--golfman f

Government should help us face weather extremes

Whether or not all of these weather disasters are the specific results of manmade climate change or not is extremely difficult to prove.  But that's not really the point. The fact is that weather extremes are happening.  So at least we need to have the appropriate governmental resources to assist people in the wake of these occurrences.   Apparently, Rick Perry's day of Christian prayer didn't help much in the Texas wild fire disasters.

So now he had to get on his knees to the Feds for help---but at the same time, Perry, Cantor, Bachmann, etc want to require spending cuts elsewhere or they want to eliminate FEMA.  And, these mouth breathing, nose picking lunatics want to emphatically deny that man has any effect on these issues--so they want to eliminate the EPA and let everyone go the way of Texas--where polluters are only under "voluntary" rules.

And since Texas has some of the worst pollution in the nation---well, evidence and facts never meant much to the Republican party.

-- Marty L

Can Perry decide on his own?

The issue is if Governor Perry can understand expert opinion in any field and make sound decisions based on that opinion, or is he just going to go with what his political handlers and lobbyists tell him to do. I'm old enough to remember when politicians, and a few bought-off pseudo scientists, were saying smoking wasn't hazardous to your health, even in the face of overwhelming scientific opinion otherwise.

-- bkmoore

It’s our own fault if we elect a "tea party" candidate

If we elect a president who denies that human activities cause global climate change and who denies evolution, then we deserve to no longer be the leading scientific innovator and technological powerhouse.

Tea Party candidates Perry, Bachmann, Romney and the others may talk about jobs, jobs, jobs, but the Tea Party’s real agenda consists of radical social change that is based upon extremist Christian Fundamentalism beliefs. About the only social progress of the last 100 years that Perry has not advocated repealing is a woman’s right to vote, but he would deny a woman her right to choose.

In a Tea Party America, a corporation’s “right” to pollute would outweigh a citizen’s right to protect his family and community from that pollution.

If you believe that corporations are people, then vote Tea Party Republican.

If you believe that corporations are not people, then vote Democratic.

-- Archibald

*Spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.

RELATED:

Rick Perry: He's no Galileo

Politics and religion can mix

Rick Perry and Galileo-- pardners in science

McManus:  A two-man GOP presidential race?

GOP debate: Biggest winner, loser and missed opportunity

--Julia Gabrick

Photo: This 2007 NASA handout image shows the spectacular "blue marble," the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Credit: NASA 

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