During a media briefing on energy and climate change on Wednesday that one reporter dubbed "high energy," former Texas governor and current Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry got into a conversation with reporters about the current state of our dialogue on climate change.
Ten minutes into the briefing, a reporter asked Perry if climate change was real, and if human activity has made it worse. Perry took the opportunity to reiterate his stance that the climate is changing, but that the science is not settled, and that we need to have further conversations about it.
“The climate is changing. Man is having an impact on it," Perry said. "I’ve said that time after time — the idea that we can’t have an intellectual conversation about just what are the actual impacts?"
Perry brought up that former Obama administration DOE undersecretary and agricultural scientist Steve Koontz also believed that a conversation about climate change, and man's impact, was an important conversation to have, since he also did not believe the science on climate change was settled.
"Why not have a conversation about that? What is the other side, the people who say 'the science is settled? It’s done. If you don’t believe that, you’re a skeptic, a Luddite,'" Perry said. " I don’t buy that. This is America. Have a conversation. Let’s come out of the shadows of hiding behind your political statements and let’s talk about it. What’s wrong with that? I can be convinced, but why not let’s talk about it?”
Perry said he believe that the White House should call together a panel of experts to discuss climate change, and man's effects on it.
"The science isn't settled yet. I tend to say, OK, let's have a conversation and get these guys together," Perry said.
The reporter later asked Perry to clarify his meaning, asking if the former governor believes that there is no more debate needed on whether climate change is real and man is having an effect.
"No," Perry answered. "What I said was climate is changing, always has. Man at this particular point in time is having an effect on it. How much effect is what is at debate here. And more importantly, what is the United States going to do about that? Are we going to sign [the Paris] agreement that really doesn't call anybody to make any changes?"
"Now, can we agree that we ought to have a conversation as a people, intellectually engaged, not screaming at each other, no standing up in the middle of my speeches and calling me a 'climate denier.' When the fact is, I just want to have a conversation about this," Perry said.
Perry was referring to a protester who interrupted Perry's speech at the Energy Information Administration conference on Tuesday.
As Perry spoke, a woman accused Perry repeatedly of being a "climate denier," not allowing him to speak. Eventually, the woman was shouted down by an annoyed crowd, after Perry denied her accusation, and pleaded with her to let him finish.
Protestor interrupts @SecretaryPerry speech at #EIAconf this morning! Asks "Why are you a climate denier??" Video… https://t.co/YZvanSCJe0— 350 DC (@350 DC)1498581140.0