House science committee endorses climate-denialism article

As I noted in Faith Versus Fact, an important science committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is loaded with climate-change denialists—and that was before Trump was elected. Get a load of some of the statements that have come from Republican (of course) members of that committee (this is from FvF, pp. 249-250):

And even when not motivated by religion, climate-change denialists still make palpably false claims resembling those used by advocates of alien abduction or Holocaust denialism. Climate denialists have, for example, claimed that scientists on a climate-change panel of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, whose report implicated fossil fuels in global warming, actually profited financially from their efforts (not true: they don’t get a penny for such work). Other arguments are that climate-change scientists don’t base their conclusions on “real scientific facts”; that the “real” evidence shows no trend of global warming, which is “one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community . . . there is no scientific consensus”; and that climate-change concern is “a massive international scientific fraud.” Amazingly, all of these quotations come from Republican members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, the committee responsible for formulating U.S. policy on such issues. Fully 72 percent of the Committee members are outright climate-change denialists or have voted against bills to alleviate global warming.

The beat goes on: as Motherboard reported, the Committee’s official twitter feed issued this, endorsing a Breitbart article saying that land temperatures have “plunged” 1°C this year, calling such drops “the final death rattle of the global warming scare.”  Motherboard adds,

“The Breitbart News story aggregates a Daily Mail article that insinuates global warming is a byproduct of El Niño. (It’s not.)

. . . Breitbart and Daily Mail based their stories on a statistically incomplete infographic that appears to have been created by the latter publication. It cites climate data from 1998 to 2016 without proper context, and for a specific reason.

“This is the portion that people usually show if they want to avoid showing the large increase in temperature over the forty previous years. If you look at the longer temperature record, there’s a clear upward trend,” Daniel Walton, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles’ Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Center for Climate Science, told me.

“Both 2015 and early 2016 were very warm periods. Often El Niños are followed by La Niñas, which could bring cold anomalies. Just because one year has especially high or low temperatures doesn’t contradict idea of a long-term trend because we expect there to be considerable interannual variability,” he added.

For further refutation of that Breitbart claim, see yesterday’s article in The Washington Post.

Here’s the long term data on land-temperature “anomalies” (year round as well as October) since 1880; as you can see, the long-term trend is definitely upward: ice caps and glaciers are melting, coral reefs are dying, and all the climate-change accords in the world don’t seem to be helping.

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Here’s the tw**t from the House Committee:

Now this is just one posting on Twi**er, but remember that this is the official site for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Note the word “science”, which seems out of place. If our legislature is giving tacit approval to a bogus claim like this, it can only get worse under the next administration.

I’m really glad I won’t be around in 150 years to see the icecaps and polar bears gone, and the Great Barrier Reef bleached to death.

h/t: Michael F.

52 Comments

  1. CuriousGeorge
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    What’s the ethical difference between:
    1) denying climate change, and
    2) acknowledging that it’s a problem but continuing to live your life as if it weren’t (e.g., flying all over the world in airplanes, which are particularly damaging because they create high-altitude emissions)? A single long-distance flight per year puts someone well above their sustainable carbon footprint.

    • Kevin
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      There is none assuming one continues to live life as if it were not. I still try to fly to Hawaii almost every year, but I am fortunate enough to be able to put 2500 miles of biking commute. In ten years, that’s 25k my car has not been on the road. I am also fortunate enough to be part of the scientific community trying to make our world better. Science is helping in areas of energy efficient systems, heat transfer, improved energy storage, HTC superconductivity, solid state refrigeration, nuclear waste reclamation, etc. It’s worth the effort.

      • CuriousGeorge
        Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        Honestly, you seriously need to look into how much pollution long-haul flights cause. It will astonish you. It doesn’t matter at all how good you are in the rest of your life. The second you hop into an airplane, your carbon footprint becomes unsustainable.

        Read the book “How Bad Are Bananas”.

        As an example, if you bicycle to work powered by a few hundred calories of air-freighted vegetables, that is about as damaging as if you had driven a Hummer to work.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 2, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

          You are right that jets use huge amounts of kerosene and if everyone stayed home for the holidays we’d slow the current slide to destruction. But only by a small amount. Aviation accounts for about 2% of total global CO2 emissions and about 12% of the CO2 emissions from all transportation sources. Fossil fueled power plants, gasoline cars, etc. are the main issue that we can deal with now. Sustainability is relative to the current world output of carbon. If legislatures world wide put an incrementally increasing tax on carbon, we’d be well on our way to correcting the temperature anomaly. Electric vehicles and even electric planes should eventually be available.

          http://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/Documents/EnvironmentReport-2010/ICAO_EnvReport10-Ch1_en.pdf

          • CuriousGeorge
            Posted December 2, 2016 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

            It’s only “2%” if you ignore the fact that high-altitude emissions are at least 4x more damaging than emissions from ground-based sources and up to 12-15% of global emissions.

            Regardless of the actual percentagewise emission, it does not excuse one from the *fact* that AS SOON AS YOU TAKE A LONG-HAUL FLIGHT, YOU ARE NO LONGER ACTING SUSTAINABLY.

            In terms of the easiest things you can do to help CO2-equivalents footprint:
            1) Stop eating beef
            2) Stop flying places

            Scientific conferences are a particularly hypocritical waste, since all involved presumably accept the fact of climate warming but still feel like flying places because “fuck it”.

            Scientific conferences should be abolished and flights should be taxed through the roof as a deterrent.

            • Filippo
              Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

              How about cruise ship vacations? U.S. Navy ship surveillance operations in the Black Sea?

            • rickflick
              Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

              Well, I’m half way there with you. Reducing flights and meat is a good idea for any individual. If you get enough individuals to accept the logic you’d win. But, getting millions upon millions of people to sacrifice in this way is, as your comments suggest, going to be virtually impossible. The only reasonable solution is governmental action. A handful of carefully worded pieces of legislation would solve the problem by forcing everyone to be a hero and make the sacrifice they wish they could make on their own. As a point in fact however, it would become rather painless if all were forcefully involved and committed. So, yes, if I abandon the trip to Iceland I plan for later next year, the world will be a tiny bit better off. But, certainly if I take political action to remove Trump and the republican party from power, I should have spent my personal resources much more effectively.

              • Filippo
                Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

                “Well” (in my best Ronald Reagan imitation), remember that 2/3 of the U.S. economy is dependent on U.S. consumer (Carrier Corp. servant – I mean – employee) spending, as the NY Times reporter’s tickler file is so assiduously good to remind one on an “as needed” basis. (Sorry, I’m under the influence of old vine zin. 😉 )

              • rickflick
                Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

                Aged grape juice can sometimes simplify problems miraculously. 😉

        • Posted December 2, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          I’m sympathetic, but the guy taking the hummer *also* ate the vegetables (or something else).

    • Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Good response.
      Unfortunately very true, to take just a single example one only has to look at the sales figures of pick up trucks in North America to realise that most do not give a damn about reducing their impact on the environment.
      Even though climate change is now affecting people personally there is still massive denial.

      • Filippo
        Posted December 2, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        “Don’t git no ugly truck” says the ad of some years ago.

    • eric
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Everyone’s personal little bit helps, so yes we should all try and do better. But we should also not make perfect the enemy of good. Someone who campaigns for clean energy, votes for government officials who support it, intentionally pays more to get that energy efficient car or appliance etc., while taking a flight across country every year to visit grandma isn’t “living their life as if it weren’t [a problem].” True, they are doing less than what they maximally could. But they also aren’t doing *nothing* about it.

      Its good to encourage people to do better. And its good to inform people of sources of warming that they may not be aware of (like flights), because that may help them do better in the future. So I hope your post does that. But I also don’t think we should be implying that if someone doesn’t meet our own activist standard, they are “living their life as if it isn’t a problem.” Because in most cases, that’s not true. It’s just a holier than thou sort of looking down your nose at someone who may be socially active, but is less socially active than the speaker or is active in ways the speaker does not consider as important.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 2, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        Hear, hear.

      • CuriousGeorge
        Posted December 3, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        IT doesn’t matter if you are doing better than the average person if you are still doing so poorly that the rest of the world can’t afford to live like you.

        If you are living above your sustainable carbon footprint, you are part of the problem. Period. Your post hoc rationalization isn’t going to fix that.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 3, 2016 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          OK Curious. You’ve convinced me. Now go away and let me live the rest of my life quietly in deep shame. 😀

        • Kevin
          Posted December 5, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

          I work in a building with dozens of scientists and engineers and I can assure you none of them tries as hard as I do to minimize carbon footprint. Your argument is a good motivation for me to hate these people. Is that what you want? I definitely have little respect for their effort, but I am not going to turn off my kindness to people because they are pragmatically selfish (my workmates are not ignorant) when it comes to the environment…there are too many of them and they constraints on their lives that I do not have or probably cannot understand.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      The difference depends who one is referring to. Me or you, no difference. But it makes a difference if the climate change denier is also controlling funding to monitor long term weather patterns and sea levels. It matters if the denier is also setting laws that control emissions standards and decides on incentives for off-shore drilling versus development of solar energy fields.

    • Brian
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      The difference is that denialists are not only polluting at a high rate, but are also obscuring the problem. If more people at least acknowledge that it is a problem we can perhaps at least come to a solution faster.

    • Anthony
      Posted December 3, 2016 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      I think it may be more complicated and not entirely clear whether aviation has as pernicious effect as you claim. Albedo effects of contrails offset a great deal of the CO2 emissions, especially in the daytime and summer (when more flights take place). A bit of googling and I find it is not settled but there is a possibility that aviation is not a net source of warming. In case it needs clarification, I am not denying AGW nor opposed to measures to mitigate it. Just pointing out that aviation might not be so bad.

      • Keith
        Posted December 3, 2016 at 7:43 am | Permalink

        The effects of CO2 are the primary concern due to the molecule’s residence time in the atmosphere and its forcing effects. Albedo effects from vapor trails are ephemeral and gone within hours, whereas CO2 circulates and warms for decades.

  2. Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Special thanks to the narcissistic demagogue and internet troll who thinks that using hair spray in a concealed space disproves global warming.

  3. ToddP
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    After a long summer’s hibernation, spent blissfully unaware of record monthly global temperatures and raging wildfires, the Shart-brained Climate Ape emerges from his den at the onset of winter to bellow his infamous mating cry: “Hey, it’s cold outside today, there’s no GLOBAL WARMING!”

  4. Jospeh Stans
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    It is important to remember that Republicans NEVER do anything unless it is for money or some personal gain.

    The concept of doing something because it is right or true or because you believe in something is foreign.

    • Filippo
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Yep, as my grandfather would have put it, in an Appalachian colloquialism, the R’s “lay them ears back and pray” and religiously recite the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag (made in China).

      I’m always interested in hearing some U.S. economist, worshipping at the altar of Capitalism, hold forth on what is the “right” thing to do. Cognitive dissonance gymnastics.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 2, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        “Republican” has been considered a dirty word in my family for generations. Matter of fact, my sweet, silver-haired grandmother wouldn’t say “Republican” when speaking with us grandkids. She’d gesture toward the newspaper or tv and call them “those motherfuckers” instead.

        • Claudia Baker
          Posted December 3, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          I love your grandmother.

  5. Historian
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Climate change denial may be the worst of the many negative consequences of the Trump administration. In alliance with the Republicans in Congress, we can expect Trump to let the next four years go by without taking any action to slow down climate change. Will we have reached the tipping point by then?

    His recent nominees for Secretary of the Treasury and Security of Commerce are the picks of Wall Street. Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans in Congress are threatening to repeal Obamacare (with no replacement in sight) and to destroy Medicare as it is now known. Trump’s promise to bring manufacturing jobs back to the country is totally bogus as Paul Krugman and other economists have pointed out. What Trump will do in foreign policy is anybody’s guess. From his recent speeches and tweets, we know he is favorable towards suppressing a free press and free speech. But, what else would we expect from an authoritarian?

    There have been a few other instances in United States history when the future of the country was so in doubt: the decade after the end of the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II. The country survived these other crises. We cannot rest assured we will be so lucky this time. As noted, there are many different things Trump could do to ruin the country. And when his supporters finally realize that they have been duped again, what will they do? They may vote Democratic or they may turn to another strongman or they may give an extreme right-wing zealot like Ted Cruz a go. We have no idea what will happen in the next four years, but whatever happens is unlikely to be good, and the resultant anxiety may cripple some of us. But, we must resist complacency; fighting Trump at every turn is the only proper response.

    • Rob
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      I predict that when the Trump administration fails, that the Republicans will turn to a more “pure” version of Republicanism such as Cruz, Ryan or Rubio.

      There is absolutely nothing in their current mindset that suggests considering a more moderate alternative. If anything, they will be upset that Trump does not fulfill all of his promises to dismantle government (that is any government that protects and benefits citizens). Of course, they like the strong man style government that will enforce religious ordinances, restricts free speech, and sees violence as a virtue.

      What some of us see as a disaster, is exactly what the tea-party wants. They will rejoice in every accomplishment, until they feel the pain personally.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      After reading a recent article about the person we should be paying attention to instead of all the others, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, it is noted that in the current count of election results, Clinton leads in the popular vote by 2,332,745. That is 48.2% to 46.4%. Additionally, there has been 54 presidential elections since ratification of the 12th amendment and Trumps victory ranks 44 out of these 54. Also the Democrats picked up 2 seats in the senate this year in case anyone wants to look.

      So instead of wondering around the internet, lost in your own gloom and doom, we should be raising hell at every turn and demanding the democrats in Washington start acting and talking like this leader from Mass.

    • Filippo
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      “Trump’s promise to bring manufacturing jobs back to the country is totally bogus as Paul Krugman and other economists have pointed out.”

      Like “Ivory”(?) soap, I’ve been with Krugman 99 44/100% of the time. What is Nobellist Krugman’s solution to “working class” job offshoring grievances? I’d like to hear him hold forth on the efficacy of “corporate patriotism,” as recently voiced in a Washington Post op-ed by Bernie Sanders (whom Krugman raked over the coals during the primaries), and also by Ralph Nader here and there over several years.

      E.g., blog.nader.org/2012/06/20/what-about-some-corporate-patriotism/

      It’s too bloody bad a U.S. corporation cannot be as necessary drafted into the military to go in harm’s way on behalf of its own economic interests.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        President Truman tried that in The Steel Seizure Case. The Supremes said “not so fast, Harry.”

        • Filippo
          Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

          “There are FOUR lights!!”

          – Jean Luc Picard

          (with apologies to Franz Kafka’s “The Prisoner,” assuming I don’t have that wrong.)

  6. colnago80
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I get a horse laugh out of the claim that folks like James Hanson and Michael Mann are promoting climate change for the money. They could make a lot more money shilling for the Koch brothers.

  7. GBJames
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    sub

  8. kevin7alexander
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I’m really glad I won’t be around in 150 years to see the icecaps and polar bears gone, and the Great Barrier Reef bleached to death.

    The history books will still blame Obama.

    • Ann German
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      If anyone knows how to read or can find a book.

      • Posted December 2, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        “…I won’t be around in 150 years to see the icecaps and polar bears gone, and the Great Barrier Reef bleached to death.”

        Not to worry! I’m confident the Republicans will be able to fast track that destruction!

        • Posted December 2, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          And count on spineless Democrats to help.

      • Posted December 2, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        + 1

  9. Posted December 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  10. Tom
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    The science tells us that we do not need to wait 150 years, a slow increase in the number of cat 5 storms in the next 50 years combined with the predicted rise in sea levels will repeatedly inundate much of the worlds most low lying coastal regions including those of the United States.
    American religious hysteria can do nothing to stop this but with the true christian grit for which America is notorious, it can happen sooner and be even more catastrophic.

    • eric
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      At first I read that as “cat storms”. Having been subjected to several of those, I can tell you that your average cat storm can beat a sharknado with one paw tied behind its warm front.

    • keith cook +/-
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      “American religious hysteria can do nothing to stop this but with the true christian grit for which America is notorious, it can happen sooner and be even more catastrophic.”

      … and unfortunately all they will do is pray harder, condemn the sinners and blame anything or anyone who does not acknowledge the wrath of god is upon us… and the winner is?

      For me i’m hoping technology (which is a biggie) social and political conscience, increasing planetary and biodiversity empathy, those of enlightened principles will plough over the top of these religious stumps to someplace where they become irrelevant to a stable climate outcome and anything else pegged to devoting idiocy. I live and hope.

      • Filippo
        Posted December 2, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        I contemplate whether global corporate fascism ought not be similarly ploughed over.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 2, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure you’ve heard of the parable of the frog in a pot on the fire. The water warms slowly enough so that the frog is insensible to the grief that awaits her.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 2, 2016 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        Like this?

        • Posted December 4, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          Complacent frogs or “all-devouring locusts.” Doesn’t speak particularly well of the human race.

  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 3, 2016 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    “alarmists”, “activist judges” – propaganda terms.

    My doctor said I should get an operation – but I said she’s an alarmist and saved thousands of dollars. That’s the modern republican logic in a nutshell.

  12. reasonshark
    Posted December 4, 2016 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    I’m not really surprised anymore by this sort of thing. Climate change has been a major scientific concern since the mid-20th century, and yet, the net result since then has been a mixture of denialist campaigns, anti-scientific rhetoric, and “somebody else’s problem” attitudes. If anything, the warming trend has gotten much worse.

    A good chunk of that is because cronyist profiteers are in charge at the political and economic helms, and largely have been for decades. The rest of us are too weak, distracted, intimidated, paranoid, despairing, self-interested, or coddled by modern society’s comforts to rouse any kind of real challenge against them.

    The USA is just one of the offenders, hampered by a stronger-than-usual anti-science cultural climate; Europe, Canada, Australia, and several wealthy Southeast Asian countries are, to varying degrees, guilty of the same obstructionism, in spite of their occasional rhetorical flourishes and political theatre.

    That trend would have continued with Trump and his cronies or without them, because they’re just part of the same money-making, backscratching elite who paint themselves and their allies as optimistic, heroic leaders to a largely bystander public which neglects to speak out.

    And one of the reasons we don’t speak out is because we silently buy into their doctrine that any kind of natural sustainability doesn’t really work, despite the fact that’s how nature has always worked. Ultimately the issue of global warming is a slap in the face to the naive technological idealism of the Industrial Revolution and thus of our modern society. The latter rests on the optimistic idea that any problem can, will, and ought to eventually be solved if you throw enough money, technology, and creative genius at it.

    Yet our entire industrial wealth and resultant technological progress, far from being the natural backing and springboard for future social development, is based on insecure and poisoned fluke loans. Humans have been taking heavy loans from the Carboniferous period for the last two centuries, along with toxic add-ons and other non-renewable resources, in the form of fossil fuels, metals, and other mine-able materials used for plastics and artificial fertilizer.

    Unlike the more natural materials, rhythms, and cycles they seek to replace, most of them have a limited lifespan before being converted into useless toxic materials. This is exclusing all the natural mining byproducts, which are often highly toxic in and of themselves, and which render coal mines more dangerous than nuclear reactors.

    At some point, we’re paying those loans back, and I don’t think those humans most responsible for it are going to end up footing the bill. It’ll be those who didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t use those ill-gotten gains to insure themselves against their own concocted disasters, because one of the worst things about this scenario is that, right up until any kind of mass extinction occurs, the ones who profit from it are the ones who cause it. Everyone else will end up paying for this inequality, one way or another, in part or in whole, with their lives.

    On a global scale measured in millennia, we look like a plague of all-devouring locusts; rapid population explosion, relentless consumption of limited stocks, overflows of poisonous waste product wherever we go, and dozens of population-crashing disasters imminent. I can almost imagine, second-by-second, those locusts gushing with joy at the sheer abundance, and at the progress they’ve made in their lives as they ransack another field to become even faster, stronger, more efficient, and above all hungrier.

    Until any kind of serious countertrend arises, a population crash is the only feasible future over the next two centuries.

  13. Posted December 22, 2016 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Climate change’s biggest enemy will always be ignorance! if you tell a child not to touch something because its hot, they will touch it, get burnt and never do it again, unfortunetly taking this approach with climate change is that ‘never doing it again’ will not be an option! great article keep it up 🙂


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