Sarah Palin on evolution and climate change

sarah%20palin.jpgCBS is ever so slowly releasing bits and pieces of Katie Couric's interviews with John McCain and Sarah Palin. Last night they released the transcript and some of the video of the third part of the interview where Governor Palin addresses several key science and health issues including her opinion of the use of Plan B, on teaching creationism in schools and on the contribution of man to climate change. Unfortunately, her answers were often strange, but there were some moments of relief as well. Below are two excerpts from the interview with highlights added to the good bits. Of particular concern was her statement "I'm not going to solely blame all of man's activities on changes in climate." No, I'm not kidding. Is this just an awful flub or does she really not understand the question?

On Evolution:

Couric: Do you believe evolution should be taught as an accepted scientific principle or one of several theories?

Palin: Oh, I think it should be taught as an accepted principle. And, you know, I say that also as the daughter of a school teacher, a science teacher, who has really instilled in me a respect for science. It should be taught in our schools. And I won't ever deny that I see the hand of God in this beautiful creation that is Earth, especially coming from one of the most beautiful states in the Union and traveling around this country also in this last month. My goodness, just seeing, you know, the beautiful landscape of New Mexico recently. That was just breath taking and seeing the rolling hills in Virginia and all ... the beauty that is this Earth, I see the hand of God in that. But that is not part of state policy or a local curriculum in a school district.

Science should be taught in science class.

Couric: Should creationism be allowed to be taught anywhere in public schools?

Palin: Don't have a problem at all with kids debating all sides of theories, all sides of ideas that they ever - kids do it today whether ... it's on paper, in a curriculum or not. Curriculums also are best left to the local school districts. Instead of Big Brother, federal government telling a district what they can and can't teach, I would like to see more control taken over by our school boards, by our local schools, and then state government at the most. But federal government, you know, kind of get out of some of this curriculum and let the locals decide what is best for their students.

I think many people will be partially relieved by this answer. While she is clearly not against teaching creationism in classes, she also acknowledges that evolution is a central principle in biology. All I am saying is that it could be worse. On the other hand, there was her answer on climate change.

Climate Change:

Couric: I want to start with climate change, if I could. What's your position on global warming? Do you believe it's man-made or not?

Palin: Well, we're the only arctic state, of course, Alaska. So we feel the impacts more than any other state up there, with the changes in the climates. And certainly it is apparent. We have erosion issues and we have melting sea ice, of course. So what I've done up there is form a sub-cabinet to focus solely on climate change. Understanding that it is real.

Couric: Is it manmade in your opinion?

Palin: You know ... there are man's activities that can be contributed to ... the issues that we're dealing with now with these impacts. I'm not going to solely blame all of man's activities on changes in climate. Because the world's weather patterns ... are cyclical. And over history we have seen changes there. But kind of doesn't matter at this point, as we debate what caused it. The point is it's real, we need to do something about it. And like ... Tony Blair had said ... when he was in leadership position, he said, "Let's all consider the fact that it is real." So instead of pointing fingers ... at different sides of the argument as to who is to blame, and if nature just to blame, let's do something about it. Let's clean up our world. Let's reduce emissions. And let's go with reality.

Couric: Because, if it's not man-made, then one might wonder, well, how can human beings contribute to a solution?

Palin: Well, human beings certainly are contributing to pollution today. And to some adverse effects on the environment. And it's all of our jobs to do to clean things up. And that's what we're committed to doing.

Couric: So you do believe ... that man is contributing to global warming, because you just said they're causing pollution. Of course, pollution causes global warming.

Palin: I believe that there are a lot of causes. And there is one effect. And one is changes in the climate. And there are things that we can do to make sure we're cleaning up the environment. I also formed an integrity office that solely is focused on petroleum, on pipelines, on those things that we do up there in Alaska to contribute to the U.S. domestic supply of energy.

Where we can focus solely on environmental protections. There are a lot of things that I've done there in that arena of environmental protection that have kind of ticked off some in my own party thinking that I went too far. But I've always been of the mind that, you know, we gotta prove that we can do this right. Safely, ethically, environmentally friendly developments, or we're not gonna be allowed to unlock our lands and tap these supplies.

Couric: John McCain proposed legislation calling for mandatory caps on global warming gases or CO2 emissions. Do you agree with that?

Palin: I support his position on that. Absolutely.

Couric: But he somewhat backtracked on the campaign trail saying it wouldn't, they wouldn't, the caps wouldn't be mandatory, they'd be voluntary. So what do you think? Do you think voluntary caps go far enough? Or they should be mandatory?

Palin: He's got a good cap and trade policy that he supports. And details are being hashed out even right now. But, in principle, absolutely, I support all that we can do to reduce emissions and to clean up this planet. And john McCain is right on board with that.

Couric: Voluntary or mandatory in your view?

Palin: We're gonna keep working on how it can be implemented to actually make sense and make a difference.

The logic loops in her answer make me nervous. I suppose her position is that fossil fuels cause pollution and that cleaning up pollution is necessary. I am not sure how she can possibly believe that humans did not contribute to climate change AND think that we can do something to slow it down. This is a very serious logic gap that she really needs to fill in.


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"I think many people will be partially relieved by this answer."
Are you out of your mind?
How could her answer be worse?
Delegating the curriculum to local religious nutcases is the worse case scenario for evolution teaching and you've just shown that this is exactly her ideal policy!

Her answer on evolution is clearly in line with being an IDer.
She accepts evolution but she sees the hand of god anywhere. She also does not state, which I think just as important as accepting evolution, that she accepts natural selection. Her answer is only superficially a relief.
She also negates McCain on being a straight talker. She just dances around questions, avoiding giving specific answers while being very bad at hiding it.

She is wack with a capital O

Sigmund, That is exactly right. People will be comforted by the answer, but should not be. Sorry for the confusion.

Evidently, she has finally been educated (but not enough yet)... by McCain's campaign team.

It's scary that she could possibly be the VP or President of the United States.

Relax, people. If things continue like this, Bible Spice and McBush are toast anyway.

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 01 Oct 2008 #permalink

Those answers are perfectly reasonable. I don't think for a minute her policies will be to my liking; "Drill, baby, Drill" kind of negates any vaguely pro-environmental stewardship position.
However, I could see where she is coming from on the evolution/creationism question. Although that response sounds better on paper than other things she's said. And that whole "I see a hand of God in the beauty of this country" fluff is a very electable, emotionally-appealing, noncommital stance.

She says: �as the daughter of a school teacher, a science teacher blah, blah, blah.�

My sister an English teacher complains bitterly of the teachers that teach English that are not educated as English teachers and their only connection is that they speak a language we call English. My guess is that there are an enormous number of teachers that are teaching science that were never educated to be science teachers and their only connection with science is that they can spell the word. Would Sarah's papa fall into this category? I have no idea, but if he taught creationism or believed in it he never was close to understanding science.

I think you missed the scary part of the evolution discussion (for more on this see my posting here ).

The problem is that she says as you quote above, that the curriculum should be left to the locals. This is exactly what the ID supporters are pushing for --- they want to eliminate the separation of church and state by having local boards decide what should be in the curriculum. I support locals making most decisions but not at the expense of the separation of church and state.