Speaking on a taxpayer-supported radio station, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt made the extremist claim on July 21, 1997 that disagreeing with his views on climate change issues is "un-American in the most basic sense." What's more, Babbitt says, for an American to even work with scientists to investigate the scientific issues involving climate change is joining in "a conspiracy... to deny the facts."
Apparently, Secretary Babbitt believes that all scientists, and all Americans, should let the government do all their investigating, and all their thinking, for them.
But believing something just because the government says it is true is the antithesis of the scientific method. And it's something scientists haven't thought well of since the time of Galileo, if not before.
To set the facts straight: it is, at the very least, an open
question as to whether or not global warming is occurring, and,
even if so, to what extent human actions are having an impact
on the global climate. It is also far from settled whether or
not humankind would benefit from global warming if it is occurring.
To our way of thinking, when one doesn't know the answer to something, the best thing to do is: investigate it.
This web site's Environmental Policy Task Force section (http://www.nationalcenter.org/eptf) has lots of papers and other publications examining climate change issues, including National Policy Analysis #165: Cure to Global Warming Could Be Worse Than the Disease. Other papers on these same issues are also available from other foundations and web sites (we suggest the Science and Environmental Policy Project, Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute, among others. The Junk Science Home Page is another good source).
And since, as readers will see in the transcript below, Secretary Babbitt believes that the only reason anyone disagrees with his view on climate issues is because oil and coal companies paid them to, we'll voluntarily state for the record: The National Center for Public Policy Research (the sponsors of this web site and of the Environmental Policy Task Force) has never received a penny from any oil or coal company. Nor have we received any money, nor any gifts in-kind, from anyone who has attempted to tell us what our views on climate change should be.
(And by the way: The Clinton Administration cannot honestly claim that no group with a set view on climate change provided major help to Democrats in the 1996 election year -- and we do mean major help. So if anyone's getting paid for an opinion...)
Diane Rehm Show
National Public Radio's WAMU-FM, based in Washington, D.C.
July 21, 1997
...Why can't we begin to increase tax on gasoline to diminish its use and to provide a revenue to develop alternative resources...
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt:
Let me suggest that we have a really big opportunity coming up this year, in 1997. Climate change is underway. We have already changed the atmosphere through fossil fuel emissions. That's a scientific fact beyond denial. The effects are starting to show up. And there's going to be a treaty negotiation in Kyoto, in Japan, at the end of this year to try to set national plans to control global warming.
But its an unhappy fact that the oil companies and the coal companies in the United States have joined in a conspiracy to hire pseudo scientists to deny the facts, and then begin raising political arguments that are essentially fraudulent, that we can so this with the economy, the same kind of arguments they used against acid rain, they used against the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. This time I think its especially unfortunate, and I think that the energy companies need to be called to account because what they are doing is un-American in the most basic sense. They are compromising our future by misrepresenting facts by suborning scientists onto their payrolls and attempting to mislead the American people.
Host Diane Rehm:
And keeping the issue alive. I mean keeping the question as to whether climate change is actually occurring, keeping the question in people's mind's [unclear] it's supposed to, assuming there is something happening.
That's absolutely true. There was an article by the president of Chrysler Corporation in The Washington Post last week. It's an outrageous distortion of existing science that is reflective of what's going on in the energy industry. And I don't think its too strong to say that it is a deliberate attempt to distort the facts and to mislead and to simply stall any kind of progress for their own short term, advantage with possibly really catastrophic effects in the long run.
Have you written response?
Well, I hadn't thought about it till just now. Sort of getting sufficiently worked up about this. I just might do that.
Source of transcript: Dr. Bonner Cohen, EPA Watch newsletter
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