Rick Perry, the head of the Department of Energy (DoE), is very reliable when it comes to saying ludicrous things about science. Today’s example comes courtesy of his reaction to protestors that gatecrashed his attendance at the National Petroleum Council in Washington this week.
As he was giving a speech, climate change advocates began to shout and interrupt his pro-fossil fuel remarks. In response, Perry said not only one, but two amazingly silly things.
“This industry is leading the world in affecting the climate and affecting the climate in a positive way,” he began. “I’m proud to be a part of this industry.”
Then, as if to double-down on his alternative facts, he said: “You want to talk about saving lives? That’s what we are doing.”
Everything Perry claimed is diametrically opposed to the truth, which is a problem when you’re in charge of a major scientific federal agency.
Firstly, you cannot affect the climate in a positive or negative way, because, well, the climate’s gonna climate. It will carry on reacting to whatever we put into it, or take out of it, because that’s just how the climate works.
To be fair, Perry was probably referring to the idea that human activity is causing “good” climate change. Sadly, apart from a few high-latitude places getting a little warmer and boosting the agricultural sector, most of the world will suffer – particularly those along the coast and the Equator, and the poorest people in society.
So no, fossil fuels aren’t doing something good. They’re literally the problem.
Perry's comment about saving lives is equally daft. Millions die every year from fossil fuel-linked air pollution, and millions more die indirectly from climate change-driven phenomena, like droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and conflict.
Perry later made a reference to various African countries needing access to energy to save lives – but in fact, it looks like plenty of them are skipping coal and oil and choosing renewables instead.
His comments show that Perry is nothing less than a truly remarkable man – in that he is unbelievably efficient when it comes to getting science, or even basic math, wrong. He is the living embodiment of the word “omnishambles”.
Don’t forget, this is the same person who not only rejects climate change science, but has also suggested that most of what we know about physics and chemistry is incorrect. He occasionally forgets both the name of the DoE and what its purpose actually is.
Taking the place of award-winning and renowned physicists, this curious member of the Trump administration is embarrassingly unqualified. He's more like a flamingo on Venus than a fish out of water.