Climate Science Denial on Full Display in Washington D.C.

If you are tired of your hair and would like to pull it out of your head by the handful, then I invite you to watch the video replay of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s full committee hearing on, “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method.”

First, some warnings. Texas Republican Lamar Smith chairs the committee. Smith is a darling of the climate change denying machine, the Heartland Institute. You can probably guess that this committee’s grasp of the science, among the majority members at least, goes downhill from there. These guys are like a living Breitbart comments section on any article about climate change.

A typical Breitbart comment

The committee invited four legitimate scientists to testify. Three of the four are among a very small handful of go-to climate science denying scientists available for such exercises in cherry picking.  They are former Georgia Tech professor Judith Curry, University of Alabama professor John Christy, and University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke, Jr.

Full Committee Hearing- Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method

The fourth scientist, Penn State University professor Michael Mann, rounded out the panel. Dr. Mann was the only voice representing the prevailing scientific community. This stark imbalance was not lost on Oregon Representative, Democrat Suzanne Bonamici who remarked that:

“The witness panel does not really represent the vast majority of climate scientists who have concluded that there is a connection between human activity and climate change so sort of visualize 96 more climate scientists who agree that climate change is caused by human activity…for a balanced panel we’d need 96 more Dr. Mann’s.”

So in effect, it was one against three.

No doubt, Dr. Mann was invited in to the anti-intellectual equivalent of the heart of darkness for a reason. My guess is they wanted to somehow make Dr. Mann look bad. His questions from Republicans on the committee ranged from the bafflingly ignorant to the downright creepy.

My own so-called representative, Georgia Republican Barry Loudermilk suggested that Dr. Mann, because he understands the physics, must therefore somehow be a denier of natural change. He also asked him if:

“There could not be no chance that human activity, does not, is not, the major contributor.”

Huh?

There was also a very strange line of accusatory questioning from Louisiana representative Clay Higgins who asked if Dr. Mann could provide evidence proving he is NOT involved with a specific organization. As if Dr. Mann carries the membership lists of every single organization on the planet around with him, just in case he is asked to prove which groups he is not a member of. Bizarre to say the least.

But if the committee’s goal was to somehow make Dr. Mann out to be the villain, which they wasted no small amount of time trying to do, they failed miserably. Despite being outnumbered and surrounded by climate change deniers, Dr. Mann had one thing on his side that will always win out. Reality.

By sticking to facts and evidence, Dr. Mann was able to routinely inform the committee members, both pro and con, regarding the prevailing science. That said, at the end I am reminded of the famous internet meme about playing chess with a pigeon. For most of these science denying committee members, despite being told what is true and what is not, they will no doubt proclaim that they carried the day.

Here is the video in its entirety:

 

 

Letter to the Editor: Trump true to GOP scientific illiteracy

Drought-2-650x435That climate change is beyond the grasp of so many in the Republican Party is not news. Their leaders nearly trip over themselves to proclaim their ignorance of global warming at every possible turn. Louie Gohmert, Lamar Smith, Steve King, my own representative at this embarrassing time in history, Barry Loudermilk, Ted Cruz, Mr. Snowball himself James Inhofe, and the list of Rs who get Fs in science goes on and on; each sounding as vacuous on matters of fact regarding the natural world, as the next.

So it’s also no surprise that the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, sits at the same table of willful ignorance as the aforementioned elected officials.

But Trump, being Trump, adds his own special “flair” when it comes to bragging about being scientifically ignorant.

Trump actually told Californians that they weren’t really in a drought. See the following article for more details:

Donald Trump tells Californians there is no drought

It’s difficult to write about this without devolving in to name-calling, but “boneheaded” just races to the top of my list of adjectives when I think about the sheer inanity of such a statement by a presidential nominee.  Why? Because here’s the science.

In the December 30, 2014 edition of Geophysical Research Letters, Daniel Griffin from the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota and Kevin Anchukaitis from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution published, “How unusual is the 2012–2014 California drought?” In this paper, the two scientists demonstrate that:

“For the past three years (2012–2014), California has experienced the most severe drought conditions in its last century. But how unusual is this event? Here we use two paleoclimate reconstructions of drought and precipitation for Central and Southern California to place this current event in the context of the last millennium. We demonstrate that while 3 year periods of persistent below-average soil moisture are not uncommon, the current event is the most severe drought in the last 1200 years, with single year (2014) and accumulated moisture deficits worse than any previous continuous span of dry years. Tree ring chronologies extended through the 2014 growing season reveal that precipitation during the drought has been anomalously low but not outside the range of natural variability. The current California drought is exceptionally severe in the context of at least the last millennium and is driven by reduced though not unprecedented precipitation and record high temperatures.”

Let me lift a key statement from their study. California was in the most severe drought in the last 1200 years. So whether it’s simply that Donald can’t read complicated things or that he doesn’t understand the scientific method or that he’s just willfully ignorant, the outcome is the same.

Inaction.

If this great orange buffoon (sorry, more name-calling I know) has the audacity to tell Californians to their collective faces that they aren’t in a drought, then we just have to assume that the guy is immune to evidence and reason. While that trait fits him right in with the fringe elements of the GOP, it does the rest of us who are interested in solving problems, no good whatsoever.