Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sham Hearings Make a Mockery out of Climate Science

Lamar Smith (R-Texas), is the Chair of House Science Committee and he has made some astounding claims about climate change that are clearly factually inaccurate. Smith is well known for harassing climate scientists and challenging government science agencies. He has also made spurious allegations suggesting that scientists rigged climate data.

At a congressional hearing on March 29th Smith dismissed testimony that accused him of being a climate denier because it came from the Journal Science. Even though this journal is one of the oldest and most respected scientific publications in the world Smith claims it is not objective.

Smith has said: "I believe climate change is due to a combination of factors, including natural cycles, sun spots and human activity. But scientists still don't know for certain how much each of these factors contributes to the overall climate change that the Earth is experiencing."

Scientists do know that human activity is responsible for the lion's share of global warming. Smith is not a scientist, he can best be described as a propagandist and an advocate for the fossil fuel industry. He has no credibility with anyone who understands the scientific method.

The March 2017 hearing included three climate denying "scientists" who can only be described as outliers. Only one scientists was present who espouses the consensus view on climate change. Orthodox science was represented by Dr. Michael Mann, Director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center.

"We find ourselves at this hearing today, with three individuals who represent that tiny minority that reject this consensus or downplay its significance, and only one—myself—who is in the mainstream," Mann said in his opening testimony. "I think the intention is to cause scientists to retreat."

Mann wasted no time in pointing out that Smith is a climate denier who is in league with the conservative spin machine known as the Heartland Institute. Both Smith and the Heartland Institute are tied to the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests. Mann quoted a Science article which states that Smith "sees his role in this committee as a tool to advance his political agenda rather than a forum to examine important issues facing the US research community".

Smith responded by discrediting the publication in a move highly reminiscent of Trump who does the same with all media coverage that he does not like.

Smith has a history of deriding climate science including the IPCCC. In 2014 Smith said the newly released UN climate report is, "nothing new...Similar to previous reports, the latest findings appear more political than scientific...People are tired of the re-packaged rhetoric. It’s time to stop fear mongering and focus on an honest dialogue about real options." Smith said it appears that the UN is, "once more attempting to provide cover for costly new regulations and energy rationing."

Mann warned that Republicans and the Trump administration is eschewing policy derived from science and advocating ideologically based policies. Mann said, "going after scientists simply because you don't like their publications of their research—not because the science is bad, but because you find the research inconvenient to the special interests who fund your campaigns...I would hope we could all agree that is completely inappropriate."

The hearing caused Representative Paul Tonko, a Democrat from New York, to say, "Climate denial stands as a main pillar in the pantheon of political manipulation."

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