Mitch DanielsMitch Daniels takes on the “climate change theocracy”Photo: Indiana Public MediaIndiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he’ll decide by April 29 whether to run for the Republican presidential nomination. While he’s pondering his prospects, let us ponder his views on climate change. Turns out they’re a lot weirder than you thought.

It’s well-known that Daniels has voiced skepticism about climate science and bashed cap-and-trade. But in a little-noticed May 2009 speech, he went further — warning of fatwas issued by the “climate change theocracy,” claiming that discussion of climate science has been dominated by “the University of Hollywood and the P.C. Institute of Technology,” and reverently quoting climate skeptic and sci-fi author Michael Crichton.

The speech [PDF] was addressed to graduates of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a highly regarded engineering and science college in Terre Haute, Ind. Daniels encouraged these future engineers and scientists to get involved in public policy, and he used climate policy as his prime example:

A relentless project has inundated Americans for years with the demand that we must drastically reduce the carbon dioxide we emit as a society. It is asserted that the earth is warming; that this warming would have negative rather than positive consequences; that the warming is man-made rather than natural; that radical changes in the American economy can make a material difference in this phenomenon; and that utility bills in Indiana must double because no better or less expensive alternative to this policy is discussable.

Well. All these contentions may be correct. It may be that they will all be borne out over the coming decades. But the average citizen has no way to be sure of that for now. Although there are scientists, and scientific studies, that are deeply skeptical of all these claims, they are rarely heard in what passes for public debate. The debate, so far, has been dominated by “experts” from the University of Hollywood and the P.C. Institute of Technology.

Joining this discussion will require more than technical competence; it will take courage, too. In what has become less a scientific than a theological argument, anyone raising a contrary viewpoint or even a challenging question is often subjected to vicious personal criticism. Any dissident voice is likely to be the target of a fatwa issued by one Alatollah or another of the climate change theocracy, branding the dissenter as a “denier” for refusing to bow down to the “scientific consensus.”

The late author and scientist Michael Crichton spoke witheringly of this pattern in a speech at Cal Tech. He said, “I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that should be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.” He went on, “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.” He’s right, of course: Galileo was a denier. Darwin was a denier. Einstein denied virtually everything men “knew” at the time.

Crichton concluded by saying, “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

Watch the video, starting at 3:42:

Is it just me, or do some of those gentleman on the dais with Daniels look a tad uncomfortable? One does wonder what the scientifically savvy professors and students at Rose-Hulman made of this diatribe, particularly the admiration for climate quack Michael Crichton.

Daniels has a reputation as one of the smarter, saner potential GOP candidates. I guess this just shows what passes for smart and sane in the Republican Party these days.

Find out what other GOP presidential hopefuls have to say about climate change.