The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 13 in a series

There was in the 18th century a period now called the Age of Enlightenment. It was marked by intellectual and philosophical advance, noted predominantly in Europe, but not denied to others. There was born the notion that authority and legitimacy should be founded on reason rather than on social standing and political power. I state this because this series is my argument that we may have entered in this country into the Age of Embarrassment. People at the highest levels are acting contrary to reason, and we are beginning to embarrass ourselves. There is evidence:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has fired another shot at the scientific community, this time dismantling a federal advisory committee on climate change.

Members on the 15-person committee tell CNN they learned the news by email Friday. CNN has obtained a copy of the email sent from acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Benjamin Friedman.

As the meme posted above would indicate, the Republican Party seems to have passed through the Age of Enlightenment without catching on. We now have a President of the United States who previously declared:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Considering whether Donald Trump ever backed down from that claim, the core concept has never left him:

They changed the name from “global warming” to “climate change” after the term global warming just wasn’t working (it was too cold)!

Another freezing day in the Spring – what is going on with “global warming”? Good move changing the name to “climate change” – sad!

It’s 46º (really cold) and snowing in New York on Memorial Day – tell the so-called “scientists” that we want global warming right now!

Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!

We should be focusing on beautiful, clean air & not on wasteful & very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit! China & others are hurting our air

I’m running out of room here. I will just skip over some of these and print one more:

Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don’t believe it $$$$!

So we elected Donald Trump President, and we got what we asked for:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.

In a speech from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. He vowed to stand with the people of the United States against what he called a “draconian” international deal.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but widespread condemnation from political leaders, business executives and environmentalists around the globe.

You will note that in his speech President Trump is no longer denying anthropogenic global warming (AGW). He’s just saying it’s bad for business. Except…

Except, the city he named, Pittsburgh (not Paris), does not considered itself to be represented by Donald Trump. The voters of Pittsburgh went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the November election, and the city of Pittsburgh is all in for combating AGW. Again we are reminded we are no longer in the Age of Enlightenment.

So, has President Trump, rather the Department of Commerce under the command of Donald Trump, decided he can go it alone without the benefit of reason, previously provided by those scientists, now dismissed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is part of the Department of Commerce, and the following is now posted on the NOAA site:

Per §102-3.55 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment (Committee) charter expired on August 20, 2017. The Department of Commerce and NOAA appreciate the efforts of the Committee and offer sincere thanks to each of the Committee members for their service.

Please note this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority for the Department and NOAA. 

Under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is responsible for climate assessment activities and the quadrennial National Climate Assessment (NCA) report. The NCA integrates and evaluates the findings of the USGCRP in the context of current and projected global climate change trends, both human-induced and natural, and analyzes the effects of current and projected climate change on: ecosystems and biological diversity, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, and social systems. USGCRP is implementing a sustained National Climate Assessment process that will ultimately facilitate continuous and transparent participation of scientists and stakeholders across regions and sectors, enabling new information and insights to be synthesized as they emerge.

In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) established the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The Advisory Committee consists of 15 experts that advise on the engagement of stakeholders and on sustained assessment activities and the quadrennial NCA report.

The diverse membership of the Advisory Committee assures expertise that reflects the breadth of the NCA activities, including: communications, engagement, and education; risk management and risk assessment; economics and social sciences; technology, tools, and data systems; and other disciplines relevant to the sustained NCA process. These non-federal eminent experts also reflect the NCA regional and sectoral interests, as well as the ethnic and gender diversity of the United States. Members are appointed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, in consultation with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director.

For a concise overview of the Advisory Committee, please view our fact sheet.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment is seeking public input on a draft outline of Near-term Recommendations on Sustained Assessment. Comments can be sent to snca.advisorycommittee@noaa.gov. Comments received by August 14, 2017 will be incorporated into the initial draft recommendations.

For further information contact:
Dr. Cynthia Decker, Designated Federal Officer
Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 734-1156
FAX: (301) 713-1459

Lest you imagine fifteen highly invested scientists and other professionals are being dumped on the street, take note: this is not a paid position:

Members will be selected for appointment on a clear and standardized basis in accordance with Department of Commerce guidance. Each member shall be appointed for a term of one, two, or three years and shall serve at the discretion of the Under Secretary. Thereafter, members may be reappointed for successive terms of two years. To the extent possible, not more than one-third of the total membership shall change in any one year. Members will be appointed as special government employees (SGEs) and will be subject to the ethical standards applicable to SGEs. Members are reimbursed for actual and reasonable travel and per diem expenses incurred in performing such duties, but will not be reimbursed for their time. As a Federal Advisory Committee, the Committee’s membership is required to be balanced in terms of viewpoints represented and the functions to be performed as well as the interests of geographic regions of the country and the diverse sectors of U.S. society.

[Emphasis added]

The CNN item above additionally noted:

The Trump administration’s dismissal of the advisory committee on climate change, first reported by The Washington Post, will not affect the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, according to NOAA, which says the report remains a key priority.

Scientists who discussed this with CNN expressed concern the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), due for release next year, will be suppressed:

A not-yet-released federal report on climate change finds that humans are already witnessing the effects of a warming globe — and the report’s authors are fearing that the White House will intervene before it’s published. CNN’s Rene Marsh reports.

This concern has motivated the unauthorized release of an early draft of NCA4:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

The New York Times has made a copy available online:

A final draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. The report was completed this year and is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. AUG. 7, 2017

A related Times article elaborates:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

In other news, the Trump administration has decided to hold off pursuing the study of the health effects of surface coal mining:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has halted a study of the health effects of a common mining technique in Appalachia, which is believed to deposit waste containing toxic minerals in ground waters.

letter from the Interior Department directed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to “cease all work” on a study of the potential health risks of mountaintop removal mining for people living near surface coal mine sites in central Appalachia. The Interior Department acknowledged in a statement that it had “put on hold” $1 million in funding for the two-year project as part of a review of its grants, which is focused on “responsibly using taxpayer dollars.”

I’m guessing, bad for business. Are you embarrassed yet?

 

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

There’s a lot of stuff out there. Some more than others. On this planet, which is more?

  1. Uranium or lead
  2. Gold or platinum
  3. Sulfur or calcium
  4. Hydrogen or potassium
  5. Sodium or potassium
  6. Copper or zinc
  7. Nickel or aluminum
  8. Silver or nickel
  9. Iodine or fluorine
  10. Oxygen or iron

These are hard. You can use Google. Post your answers on Facebook. It’s interesting which things are more than you expected.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 12 in a series

Somehow it has come to pass that conservative politics and science don’t fit together in the same sentence. I’m guessing I first noticed this decades ago when scientists connected tobacco use with a big risk for cancer. Conservative politicians, needing to protect their base in tobacco-growing  regions, pushed back mightily. It’s been sort of downhill from there. Additional examples abound.

Sitting in on a television panel discussion I took notice of a panelist from the Cato Institute. Cato attributes to itself a libertarian philosophy, but that’s conservative enough for our purposes. The topic of discussion was a holding by a government agency (could have been the Environmental Protection Agency) that the allowable limit for arsenic in drinking water should be lowered from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10. The Cato guy (I do not recall  his name) argued against that. His position was the proposed limit was arbitrary and had no scientific basis. At the time I was inclined to think Mr. Cato’s concern was not so much with what was proper for public health, a subject beyond his area of expertise, but rather a matter of government intrusion. He did not go so far as to say that public health is no business of the government, but conservative thinking has reached into that dark region.

A few decades back some scientists noticed that chlorinated fluorocarbons, produced and used in industry, tend to not break down  until they reach the stratosphere. There ultraviolet radiation breaks down the molecule, releasing atomic chlorine. The free chlorine then proceeds to catalyze the decomposition of ozone in the stratosphere, allowing more ultraviolet radiation to  flood through. The obvious fix was to quit making and using these chemical compounds.

This was an obvious violation of people’s rights and an unwarranted government intrusion. Besides, the science behind it was flawed and also politically motivated. A previous editor of The North Texas Skeptic was Pat Reeder, who professed conservative (and anti-environmentalist) views. He had occasion to comment:

Of course, this could be connected to changing rainfall patterns, etc., but it seems a stretch to blame Chicago’s killer heat wave on that one degree uptick. Having lived for awhile in the northeast, I think I have an idea of why so many people died from the heat in Chicago, and the concerned citizens in the environmental movement have it in their power right now to prevent it from happening again. They don’t even have to lobby Congress or drive one of those dorky electric cars.

Most of the victims of the Chicago heat wave were elderly people in poor health, living alone, without air conditioners or the money to buy them. They weren’t acclimated to the heat, they weren’t able to overcome it, and they had nobody to look in and help them (many of the victims were buried by the city because nobody claimed the bodies). It wasn’t so much ozone breakdown that killed them as it was societal breakdown.

All right. I still have not figured out the ozone connection, but I do recall that Pat came out against it at the time.

Wouldn’t you know it? The scientists who figured out the ozone connection moseyed on up to Stockholm in 1995 and picked up the Nobel Prize for their findings. And that pretty much put the kibosh on claims of flawed science, except (trust me on this) winning a Nobel Prize doesn’t count with most conservatives. Anyhow, the governments of the world squelched CFC production and its use, the presence of these compounds in the stratosphere dwindled, and the ozone layer repaired itself with the production of more ozone up there.

But recall Pat’s remarks concerning heat deaths back in 1995. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) remains in  dispute by conservative politicians. I will just call it global warming for convenience. It’s science. It has global human impact. The resolution requires drastic action. Therefore it must be politically-motivated and seriously-flawed science. Conservative politicians and conservative pundits have spoken.

Not only that, now that the Republican (conservative) party is in power, they have acted and have plans to continue to do so. Their standard bearer is currently Donald Trump, the Commander-in-Chief. He has the ball, and he is running with it. Things are happening. A bit of history:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!

It’s hard to back down from that, not saying that Donald Trump could not do it if he wanted to. He has shown signs of waffling:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.

In a speech from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. He vowed to stand with the people of the United States against what he called a “draconian” international deal.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but widespread condemnation from political leaders, business executives and environmentalists around the globe.

All right. The President missed a beat on that last note. The citizens of Pittsburgh voted predominantly for Hillary Clinton, and the city government has a positive position on combating global warming. But I did mention waffling:

Last week, President Trump announced that the United States wouldwithdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But it will take more than one speech to pull out: Under the rules of the deal, which the White House says it will follow, the earliest any country can leave is Nov. 4, 2020. That means the United States will remain a party to the accord for nearly all of Mr. Trump’s current term, and it could still try to influence the climate talks during that span.

The item appearing in The New York Times back in June has more to say about the matter:

So the next four years will be a busy time for climate policy. Mr. Trump’s aides plan to keep working to dismantle domestic climate programs like the Clean Power Plan. And the world’s nations will meet regularly to hash out details of the Paris agreement, even as the United States’ exit looms. Here is what comes next.

And there is more, obviously. What speaks most loudly is not what the Trump administration is saying but what it is doing. For one, President Trump nominated former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head up the Department of Energy, a department he swore to abolish back when he was running for the Republican nomination. Now that he is Secretary Perry, his words have weight. An opinion piece appearing in The Hill, penned by Ross McKitrick, a noted critic of global warming, has the intent of casting doubt on the science. To wit:

Policy makers and the public need to understand the extent to which major scientific institutions like the American Meteorological Society have become biased and politicized on the climate issue. Convincing them of this becomes much easier when the organizations themselves supply the evidence.

That was the first shot out of the box in a piece titled, “In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists, Perry is winning.” Interestingly, McKitrick went on to say:

This happened recently in response to a CNBC interview with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. He was asked “Do you believe CO2 [carbon dioxide] is the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate?”

It was an ambiguous question that defies a simple yes or no answer. Perry thought for moment then said, “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment we live in.” He then went on to acknowledge the climate is changing and CO2 is having a role, but the issue is how much, and being skeptical about some of these things is “quite all right.”

It is on this point McKitrick appears to have given away the game. First of all, the question is not ambiguous. It is straight-forward. Is our major concern CO2? Yes, or no. I’m going to answer for the Secretary and say it is yes. CO2 is the item people are putting into the atmosphere, it is the constituent within the atmosphere that is rising. It is something that humans have the ability to control.

And Secretary Perry whiffs the ball: “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment we live in.” No. The primary control knob is not the ocean waters. Nothing we are doing to the ocean waters is affecting global warming, especially to the extend that CO2 is. And the environment we live in is the thing that we are affecting. It is a symptom, not a cause. Professor McKitrick is not a physical scientist. His area of expertise is “environmental economics and policy analysis.” Tellingly, he is a senior fellow of the Fraser Institute, a conservative think tank, and he is a member of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, of which he is a member of the academic advisory board. From Wikipedia:

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation is a conservative Christian public policy group that promotes a free-market approach to care for the environment that is critical of much of the current environmental movement. In particular, the Cornwall Alliance rejects claims of detrimental global warming. Originally called the “Interfaith Stewardship Alliance” it was founded in 2005 in reaction to the efforts of evangelical leaders (such as Rick Warren) to fight global warming. The name Cornwall come from the 2000 Cornwall Declaration. The organization’s views on the environment have been strongly influenced by the wise use movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

I don’t want to make a big deal of this, but McKitrick, from all appearances, holds religious commitments that put him in the same boat with those who believe the Earth is 6000 years old, snakes and donkey’s can talk, and people can  come back to life after they have been well and truly killed. He has shed a quantity of intellectual rigor along the way.

But then, his is an opinion piece. No deep, scientific introspection is claimed here. McKitrick’s The Hill piece is significant here because it reflects the thinking of the people making science policy decisions within the Trump administration. Much of this deciding is at odds with government scientists doing the actual work. Some bonds are becoming frayed:

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report

The item appearing in The Times yesterday provides additional analysis of the draft report. Of interest is any perceived connection between global warming (for real) and specific episodes. People should be cautious attempting to attribute specific events to global warming. What is most pertinent are trends directly attributable to increased concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere:

In the United States, the report concludes with “very high” confidence that the number and severity of cool nights have decreased since the 1960s, while the frequency and severity of warm days have increased. Extreme cold waves, it says, are less common since the 1980s, while extreme heat waves are more common.

Water vapor in the atmosphere is a major greenhouse gas. It interacts with infrared radiation, keeping heat from escaping by that route. Go to a place like Tucson, Arizona, where there is little moisture in the air, and when the sun goes down there is a noticeable drop in temperature. If you could remove all the air above you, then you would obtain a more dramatic effect. You would be like an astronaut in space, without the protection of the atmosphere. Heat would be radiated from your body, and if you were shaded from  the sun and other sources of radiation, you would frost up very quickly.

As CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increase, any specific place on  planet will experience less cooling when the sun goes down. That’s global warming in  action. The long range effects will be profound.

The study examines every corner of the United States and finds that all of it was touched by climate change. The average annual temperature in the United States will continue to rise, the authors write, making recent record-setting years “relatively common” in the near future. It projects increases of 5.0 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 4.8 degrees Celsius) by the late century, depending on the level of future emissions.

The ability of political power to shape the narrative is evident. Some examples:

At the Interior Department, a climate scientist who has shared his thoughts on global warming was recently reassigned — to accountant. At the Agriculture Department, the man Trump has chosen to head science as undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics has no formal hard sciences background. At the Environmental Protection Agency, where the administration has successfully delayed a number of regulations drafted under President Barack Obama, Administrator Scott Pruitt is aiming to get more industry voices into the scientific process.

You should read the complete item posted by CNN. Those in power are enlisting the support of global warming opponents to accommodate interests of business groups that will be affected. The idea trotted forth is that these groups have a vested interest in the outcome and must be heard. Apparently the truth is negotiable.

We are presently deep into the Age of Embarrassment, and there will be more. Keep reading.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Know your chemistry? At standard temperature and pressure everything is something. Which of the following  are solid?

  • acetone
  • sulfur
  • iodine
  • acetic acid
  • mercury
  • fluorine
  • beryllium
  • citric acid
  • lithium hydride
  • ammonium nitrate
  • silicon carbide
  • carbon tetrachloride
  • nitroglycerin
  • unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine

Post your answers in the comment section below.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Mondays are slow days, but there is always a Quiz Question to puzzle, confuse, entertain.

Geography again. Everybody’s favorite subject. No fair running to Google maps. Just close your eyes and remember what it was like when you last drove through these places. Answer any or all. Highest score wins.

Which countries share a border?

  1. France and Luxembourg
  2. Luxembourg and Liechtenstein
  3. Italy and Slovenia
  4. Austria and Romania
  5. Greece and Bulgaria
  6. Czechia and Hungary
  7. Switzerland and Luxembourg
  8. Slovenia and Hungary
  9. Germany and Denmark
  10. Poland and Ukraine

Post your answers in the comments section below, then scurry to Google Maps. Best score wins.

Time’s up.

Nobody had a go at answering last week’s Quiz Question(s). Some were easy, others not so. Here are mine:

  • France and Luxembourg – Duh, yes.
  • Luxembourg and Liechtenstein – No way. Switzerland is in between.
  • Italy and Slovenia – Yes. Not something most people would know 70 years ago. Things have changed.
  • Austria and Romania – No, Hungary is in between.
  • Greece and Bulgaria – Yes. There is a considerable stretch of border.
  • Czechia and Hungary – No, Slovakia is in between.
  • Switzerland and Luxembourg – No.
  • Slovenia and Hungary – Yes, new since the last big war.
  • Germany and Denmark – To be sure.
  • Poland and Ukraine – And yes.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Mondays are slow days, but there is always a Quiz Question to puzzle, confuse, entertain.

Geography again. Everybody’s favorite subject. No fair running to Google maps. Just close your eyes and remember what it was like when you last drove through these places. Answer any or all. Highest score wins.

  1. Do Oklahoma and Colorado share a border?
  2. Same question—Oklahoma and Missouri?
  3. Michigan and Wisconsin?
  4. Iowa and Kansas?
  5. Minnesota and Nebraska?
  6. Oklahoma and New Mexico?
  7. Arkansas and Kentucky?
  8. Delaware and Pennsylvania?
  9. New Jersey and Maryland?
  10. Oregon and Utah?

Post your answers in the comment section  below. Then scurry over to Google Maps.

Update and Answer

Helen and Prasad have answered, apparently without resorting to  maps. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Do Oklahoma and Colorado – Yes
  2. Oklahoma and Missouri – Yes
  3. Michigan and Wisconsin – Yes
  4. Iowa and Kansas – No
  5. Minnesota and Nebraska – No
  6. Oklahoma and New Mexico – Yes
  7. Arkansas and Kentucky – No
  8. Delaware and Pennsylvania – Yes
  9. New Jersey and Maryland – No
  10. Oregon and Utah – No

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 11 in a series

When newly-elected President Donald Trump announced he had picked former Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy, I was suitably impressed. As governor of Texas, Mr. Perry had shown extraordinary interest in science education. I know. I was around when Governor Perry nominated Bryan, Texas, dentist Don McLeroy to be chairman of the Board of Education. In turn, McLeroy’s appreciation for sound science education has been viewed by many as without equal:

In 2003, McLeroy led efforts by proponents of creationism and intelligent design to de-emphasize discussion of evolution in proposed new biology textbooks. He was one of only four board members who voted against biology textbooks that year that included a full account of evolution.

Over objections by his critics in 2004, McLeroy voted to approve health textbooks that stress “abstinence-only” in regard to instruction about pregnancy and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

In 2005, McLeroy conducted a sermon in his church, in which he said naturalism is “the enemy” and questioned: “Why is Intelligent Design the big tent? Because we’re all lined up against the fact that naturalism, that nature is all there is. Whether you’re a progressive creationist, recent creationist, young earth, old earth, it’s all in the tent of Intelligent Design.”

According to a 2008 article in The New York Times, “Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. ‘I believe a lot of incredible things,’ he said, ‘The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the God that created the universe.'” McLeroy’s statements regarding science have been criticized. McLeroy and other Board members who want to challenge evolution have received criticism from more than fifty scientific organizations over an attempt to weaken the currently-accepted science standards on the theory of evolution. In particular, biologist Kenneth R. Miller called McLeroy’s statements on science “breathtakingly” incorrect.

While it became clear to all that McLeroy’s appreciation for science is not all that high, none have lower.

Fortunately for us who enjoy a good light show, Governor Perry was re-elected, and when his subsequent re-appointment of Don McLeroy stalled in the Texas Senate, Mr. Perry was wise enough to appoint as DOE chair Barbara Cargill, whose scientific acumen scrapes close to McLeroy’s. I was there to enjoy the spectacle:

I struck up a conversation with Ide Trotter and reminded him of our meeting, nearly ten years previous. He remarked on my keen memory, but he should not have been amazed, because I had taken his photo at the time, so my memory was quite fresh. Dr. Trotter is a noted creationist, and I was very interested in talking to him about any progress his movement has made with Intelligent Design in the past ten years. He assured me Intelligent Design is on solid ground.

Also, Barbara Cargill joined us in our conversation. Dr. Trotter and I were discussing Intelligent Design when she walked up, and I am afraid she was confused and thought I was a creationist. She remarked “I’m one of you,” and gave us a reassuring clap on the shoulder. She conferred for a moment with Dr. Trotter over some notes, and she went off to visit other volunteers.

After Ms. Cargill left us I felt a little embarrassed, and I hoped I had not given the wrong impression. I reminded Dr. Trotter that I had previously headed up The North Texas Skeptics, and we were strongly supportive of the teaching the science of biological evolution in public schools. Dr. Trotter assured me that he, too, wanted evolution taught, only he wanted the correct facts to be taught.

Anyhow, that is water under the bridge. Rick Perry ran for president and came hard up against logic and reality, making him a prime choice for Secretary of Energy. Which brings us to our present Age of Embarrassment:

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says CO2 is not the main driver of climate change

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told CNBC on Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are the main driver of climate change, joining the EPA administrator in casting doubt on the conclusion of some of the government’s top scientists.

Asked whether CO2 emissions are primarily responsible for climate change, Perry told CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

“The fact is this shouldn’t be a debate about, ‘Is the climate changing, is man having an effect on it?’ Yeah, we are. The question should be just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to effect that?” he said.

Allow me to interpret what the Secretary just told us. The primary driver behind climate change is the ocean waters and the environment. By environment we can assume the Secretary means the natural  environment, because if it’s not the natural environment, then it must be that human activity is the cause. So he means the natural environment. That is to say, the natural environment that has been around for millions (billions?) of years. The natural environment that has not seen fit to raise global temperature averages for hundreds (thousands) of years, and just waited until people started raising the CO2 concentration  in  the atmosphere from 300 parts per million to 400 ppm.

Or else it’s the ocean waters. Yes. The ocean waters are getting warmer. Ocean waters getting warmer is a manifestation of climate change (global warming), and that’s what’s causing global warming. Global warming is causing global warming. We needed former Texas Governor Rick Perry to tell us this.

And now I am embarrassed.