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Sanders cites drought’s agri impacts during Perry grilling

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders pressed President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to lead the US Energy Department on his record on climate change.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders Thursday pressed President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the US Energy Department, Rick Perry, to admit that climate change was a “global crisis” requiring the “transformation of our energy system” – but to no avail. 

During Perry’s confirmation hearing, Sanders cited an August 2011 CBS News report which stated that Perry, then a Republican presidential candidate, didn’t believe in global warming science, at the time suggesting that it was “grounded in scientists manipulating data for financial gain” and was “a scientific theory that has not been proven and from my perspective is more and more being put into question.”

Sanders noted that the rationale was at odds with the scientific community, which believes climate change is the “great planetary environmental crisis that we face.” He asked Perry whether he now agreed that it is imperative to transform the energy system in the US and globally away from fossil fuels.

“I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring. I believe some of it is caused by man-made activity,” Perry responded. “The question is, how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth that quite frankly doesn’t effect our energy affordability?”

“Let’s get beyond the rhetoric,” Sanders interjected. “We are in danger of spending God know how many billions of dollars to repair the damage done by climate change; drought is becoming a major crisis that will impact agriculture in a very significant way,” he added, again asking whether Perry believed climate change was a “global crisis.”

Perry replied by citing his record as governor of Texas of lowering carbon emissions by 17 percent, sulfur dioxide by 66 percent, and NOx by 56 percent. “Don’t you think that is a good thing?” he asked Sanders.

“What I think would be a better thing is for you to say right now that we have a global crisis and that the United States of America should help lead the world, working with China, Russia [and others] to transform our energy subjects,” Sanders said, before segueing into  questions about nuclear energy.

The Perry appointment comes as temperature data shows that 2016 is likely to have edged ahead of 2015 as the world’s warmest year. Drought is of growing concern across the globe. Recent reports show that academics have warned that California’s recent record drought will leave scars that could last decades; millions of Ethiopians face a drought-spawned hunger crisis for a second consecutive year; while The Northern Advocate described the Climate Change Projections and Implications for Northland report as reading like “an apocalyptic fiction”.