Rick Perry Says He's a Global Warming Skeptic

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Speaking to a crowd in New Hampshire, the Texas governor accused scientists of manipulating climate data

BEDFORD, N.H.--Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday told a New Hampshire business crowd that he harbors major doubts about human contributions to global warming, questioning the motives of scientists who have warned about accelerating climate change and arguing against expensive "anti-carbon programs."

Fielding audience questions after brief remarks that dwelled largely on fiscal and economic issues, Perry encountered one skeptic who said he was quoting from Perry's 2010 book, Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America From Washington, then asked whether misgivings about climate science fueled distrust of federal research in general.

"I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized," Perry answered. "I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we're seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climates change. They've been changing ever since the earth was formed."

Pegging the global cost of implementing "anti-carbon programs" in the billions or trillions of dollars, Perry said, "I don't think from my perspective that I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on [what is] still a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective, is more and more being put into question." Perry's skepticism on modernity's role in evolving weather patterns is of a piece with his strongly anti-regulation message, and fits with the tea party's push for limited government. And he is not alone in the GOP field in doubting scientific assertions. But it puts him at odds with his top rival for the GOP nomination.

In June, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told a New Hampshire audience that humans had played a part in global warming.

"I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that," Romney said, according to Reuters. "It's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors."

In his 2010 book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Romney made the same point, calling the melting polar ice caps "hard to ignore."

And the notion, a pillar of the doctrinaire right, may not play as well in New Hampshire, analysts said. Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, called Perry's answer "probably the most problematic one with this crowd."

"I think he answered the question he wanted" rather than the broader matter of leeriness toward federal science, said Smith.

"New Hampshire Republicans are moderate Republicans, Northeastern Republicans ... conservative on fiscal issues and tax issues and size of government issues, but on social issues, very much moderate," Smith said.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire in April released a study showing that 88 percent of Granite Staters say they believe climate change is real, with 55 percent attributing the problem to human activity.

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Jim O'Sullivan is chief analyst for National Journal Daily.

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