Friday, September 09, 2011

A follow-up on Galileo and Rick Perry

Instapundit, this morning, links to people who take issue with those of us who thought Rick Perry's invocation of Galileo as the patron saint of Global Warming Skepticism was flawed.

In response, Yes many of Galileo's peers rejected his observations and theories. That is kind of the basis of peer reviewed science. The exchange of ideas back and forth until a consensus is reached. Even then those consensuses can be wrong (as may well be the case with AGW). Galileo engaged in this behavior himself, rejecting Kepler's ideas on the nature of tides. And yes, In many ways environmentalism does mimic a religion; that however is not the question Rick Perry was asked or the question that he answered.

He was asked to name a global warming skeptic that he found particularly convincing - instead he tried to bring doubt on the theory by invoking Galileo and his battle with the Catholic church, but that was not a scientific question that was a doctrinal question and he was prosecuted by the Inquisition (for Heresy I believe but that doesn't really matter). The point is that asked to provide a scientific basis for his views Perry instead fell back on a semi-religious anti-scientific one. When asked a follow-on he doubled down on the anti-science argument:

HARRIS: Just to follow up quickly. Tell us how you've done that.


Are there specific -- specific scientists or specific theories that you've found especially compelling, as you...


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.

That's the way you need to do it, not by some scientist somewhere saying, "Here is what we think is happening out there." The fact of the matter is, the science is not settled on whether or not the climate change is being impacted by man to the point where we're going to put America's economics in jeopardy.


And what formed the basis for that reduction in Nitrous Oxide levels Governor? Was it perhaps some scientific evidence that showed that Nitrous Oxide had some undesirable health effects as a contributor to smog, caused depletion of the ozone layer, and is a greenhouse gas? Or did someone in Texas just wake up one morning and say - "Hey, you know what? I really hate Nitrous Oxide let's get rid of it" Obviously the decision based on scientific research is preferable.

The argument I would have supported from Governor Perry would have been along the lines of, "There are a lot of scientists who are rethinking their position on Global Warming and because of that I feel further investigation is warranted. Until the time when questions, such as the recent cloud formation research conducted at CERN in Switzerland, have been addressed this is an issue that properly belongs in the purview of the states. And to those who question the ability of the states to handle these questions I would point to the Texas example in regulation Nitrous Oxide and Ozone which have been reduced more in Texas than in any other state over the past decade."

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