Rick Perry Just Said Carbon Dioxide Doesn't Cause Climate Change


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

He might as well have said that electromagnetism is driven by pixies. Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock

Here’s a fact for you – carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change. Now here’s another fact – the Trump administration knows as much about the science of climate change as a cactus knows about gravitational waves.

The latest example of this comes courtesy of Rick Perry, the current US Secretary of Energy. He made an appearance on CNBC News recently and made some rather bizarre comments that question the underlying foundations of physics and chemistry, let alone climate science.


When asked whether carbon dioxide is primarily responsible for climate change, Perry replied: “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

This has echoes of the time Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that carbon dioxide does not cause climate change on live television. Perry is essentially saying the same thing, but even more stupidly.

It doesn’t matter what you think about climate change – greenhouse gases are named as such because they trap heat. Carbon dioxide traps heat very effectively, and has a lifetime in the atmosphere of up to 200 years. It unequivocally is the primary driver of climate change (and no, it’s not water vapor, climate skeptics.)


The oceans are the largest carbon sink in the world, that’s true. In fact, they have absorbed so much carbon dioxide that they have stopped the Earth warming by a mind-blowing 36°C (64.8°F) over the past century, rather than the 1°C (1.8°F) observed.


The oceans do have a huge impact on the climate, but it’s still carbon dioxide driving most of the changes. So Perry’s statement is clearly jibberish.

And yet, because it’s 2017, Perry is currently in charge of the Department of Energy (DoE), despite the fact that he is hugely unqualified for the role, that he didn’t know what the post entailed until after he was given it, that he once wanted to abolish the DoE but forgot what its name was, and – of course – that he’s a climate change skeptic.

After unusually hoping that the US wouldn’t pull out of the Paris agreement, he shut down the DoE’s climate change office and has once again become an evangelist for climate denial. The phrases “climate change” and “Paris agreement” are also banned from being used in any capacity at the DoE because Perry, upon overhearing them, will have a “visceral reaction”.

Now it appears that he’s happy to make his completely daft views known to the wider American public as vocally as possible. He may not be as bad as the State Senator who thinks human body heat is causing climate change, but he’s not far off.


  • tag
  • climate change,

  • carbon dioxide,

  • science,

  • paris agreement,

  • Department of Energy,

  • Rick Perry,

  • dnier,

  • live television,

  • derp