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Rick Perry Compares Self to Galileo

Implies Galileo would be a climate change denier

Texas Governor Rick Perry prayed for rain – got fire.

One good thing about presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry is that, unlike Michelle Bachman, he doesn’t later back down from the bizarre remarks he makes.

After Bachmann told her followers that Hurricane Irene was a message from God warning Congress to cut spending, her aides said it was a joke, and then she explained that it was a “metaphor.”

Perry, by contrast, just keeps going. Here’s an excerpt from last night’s debate among the Republican candidates:

Moderator John Harris: Just recently in New Hampshire, you said that weekly and even daily scientists are coming forward to question the idea that human activity is behind climate change. Which scientists have you found most credible on this subject?

Gov. Perry: Well, I do agree that … the science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just nonsense. Just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell.

A few weeks ago, Gov. Perry made a major spectacle of himself, praying at a major public rally for divine intervention in the terrible suffering that the droughts and fires have been inflicting on his state. Earlier in the year, he’d signed a proclamation calling for three days of prayer. Instead of rain, he just got more fire.

Unrepentant at the debate – indeed just warming to his theme – he found new inspiration for his claim that the science of human-caused global climate change is unproven and can be ignored: Galileo.

It was a bizarre twist on the history of the renowned 16th-Century astronomer and physicist, who was condemned by the Church for looking through his telescope and observing that the Earth revolved around the Sun, and not vice versa. In Perry’s version of the story, he himself wears the mantle of the great astronomer who embraced true science rather than kowtow to a small mob of paranoid churchmen.

Taking climate change seriously won’t only save lives; it will save money.

Galileo-versus-the-Vatican was all about rigorous science and observation versus entrenched church government with its dogma and outdated belief systems. When it comes to climate science, Perry is squarely on the side of entrenched dogma. But invoking Galileo to support this is shrewd, duplicitous, and very insightful into the Governor’s character and tactics.

At the debate, Perry added that acting on the growing body of knowledge about climate change “would have monstrous economic impact on this country [and] is not good economics.” But if people like Perry truly want to cut government spending, they might want to note that taking climate change seriously won’t only save lives; it will save money.

Hurricane Irene was the eleventh separate billion-dollar disaster (in Irene’s case, make that multi-billion) to hit the United States this year. The latest fires in Texas are the twelfth. And while no single weather catastrophe can or should be directly linked to climate change, the overwhelming number and fury of these events conform precisely to the predictions made by climate science.

Calling upon the Divine could certainly help bring us together to protect the planet. But preachers like Perry who issue vague, hypocritical public prayers, devoid of commitment to real action, are what Jesus of Nazareth described as being nothing more than “whitewashed tombs.”

What do you say? What’s your take on the claim that the growing wave of climate extremes is not related to the impact we humans are having on the planet? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.