House panel to challenge climate science

Mar 28, 2017

By Timothy Cama

Republicans on the House Science Committee are planning a hearing next week to challenge mainstream climate science conclusions.

The committee, chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), has dubbed its hearing “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method.”

The hearing comes as the GOP, which controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, works on multiple fronts to unravel former President Obama’s aggressive agenda on fighting climate change.

President Trump is planning to use his power to undo major regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, while Congress works to undo some rules such as limits on methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling.

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19 comments on “House panel to challenge climate science

  • I have been growing increasingly alarmed and angry (as I imagine many others have been) about the present so-called administration’s attitude towards the issue of climate change. 2016 has been the warmest year since they have been keeping records, and as Gore said some ago in his film An Inconvenient Truth, the scientists can’t really predict when any given disaster might occur.

    Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State, said this: […] “we are on a trajectory where we will probably see an ice–free Arctic Ocean within a decade or two. The climate models that we used to project the future have indicated that we probably wouldn’t see ice–free conditions until the end of this century, and yet we are now on a trajectory where it’s fairly clear: we will see them in a matter of one to two decades. So this is just one example, among many, of climate change impacts that are unfolding faster than we had predicted them to.”

    I read that Trump wants to roll back all the progress that Obama made, and reverse everything. That seems spiteful and cavalier, at the very least.

    I saw an interview with a politician on Laurence O’Donnell’s show. I can’t remember his name, but he was Asian American. He said that he considers Trump to be “evil” and he also thinks that Mr. Bannon is “evil”. I liked that. Yes, it has a religious connotation; but what other word is there?— We are talking about people in positions of power who wish to harm us, who have the intelligence, the ability, to do what’s right and inform themselves and then make sound decisions based on solid evidence. There is an element of perversity (which is really euphemistic) or shortsightedness (another euphemism). I say evil is a word we can use. Let’s not shy away from these ancient concepts just because our ideological orientation inhibits us. Greedy? Corrupt? Ignorant?… No! No other word fits. The desire to do harm because of greed or any other selfish reason may be characterized, in my view, as evil. (My opinion only. If evil is too strong, how’s sinister? Nefarious?)

    Trump is an evil man, possibly a sadist. It really does seem as though he and Bannon, and some of the others, actually want to hurt people! I’m with that senator – or whoever he was.

    (By the way, I called the CFI. I was unable to access the site these past 48 hours or so. They were very thankful for letting them know. “Debby” in Buffalo, called me back and told me that there was indeed a “plug-in” issue, and they were able to fix it. And sure enough it works now. My good deed for the day.)



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  • I just watched footage of that jackass Trump announcing his “job-creating” plan to cut regulations and to “bring back thousands of jobs in coal country.” Pence, that phony, was standing in back of him beaming.

    Coal is one of the worst things for the environment! And clean coal is a misnomer. And the mining industry is on its way out. Automation is the wave of the future.

    Christians! Give me a break; these are spiritless degenerates, cannibals. Allow me to reiterate my thesis: these people – Trump, Bannon, Pence – quite possibly deserve the epithet: “evil”.

    A crazy and terrible time. But Bill Nye spoke well on a news show tonight. Facts (any and all facts) are refreshing.



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  • Hi Dan,

    well said. Evil could be defined very easily as behavior that destructive to the community in which we all depend. Climate change denial at this stage is just that, evil and stupid because the effect will effect everyone including those currently holding the brakes on progress.

    As for Trump pushing coal. My country is desperately trying to do that as well. They now acknowledge the reality of climate change (at least the PM does) but they keep trying to placate the right wing element of the government by continuing to support coal. To the extent that both my state and federal governments are seeking to make even bigger coal mines and subsidise new coal fired power stations. Why subsidise them you might ask, because the banks won’t touch them with a barge pole. These libertarian, free-market promoting ignoramuses want to through hundreds of millions of dollars at frigging coal?!

    The other line they try is “if we don’t sell coal to China and India they will buy it off someone else”. Again we are the worlds second biggest exporter of coal. If we stopped selling coal tomorrow the price would have to rise – significantly! What would other nations do then? either buy more expensive coal or move over to a now even more economical alternative. The other argument they try is the “Our coal is cleaner and more energy dense than other coal so it is better for the environment”. This argument is a bit like saying I’d prefer to have 1 teaspoon of cyanide with my coffee instead of 2.

    I used to be very embarrassed to have Tony Abbot as our former climate denying raw onion eating (without taking the skin off) PM. I now have a bright man as PM who inspite of fully understanding the need to do something about climate change is still supporting the carbonic Luddites in his party. At least those living under Trump know they can’t hope to get any sense out of the deranged buffoon. If a country with a reasonable man like Turnbull cannot even get it right what hope do we have?



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  • Hi, Reckless Monkey,

    Nice to see you, as always. Well said indeed.

    I wish I could figure it all out.

    Perhaps Man has not evolved as much as I thought Man has. Altruism has been described by Richard Dawkins as the ability to “take action in the interest of the long term future” and as something “uniquely human”.

    I would add, sadly, that it appears to be a rather unique, rather rare, trait – even amongst humans.



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  • P.S. My last comment above strikes me as lame.

    Someone said that the Canadian guy, Trudeau, is in favor of that pipeline. (The only thing worse than coal is tar sand.) He seems like a nice guy. Apparently he’s a “buffoon” too. What’s wrong with people in politics? Maybe it tends to attract the worst sort of people.



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  • When I think of politics I think of the Groucho Marx quote that he wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have him as a member. If you really want to be a politician you probably aren’t best suited to be one. It might be best if politicans were just picked at random and they served for a year or two and then got replaced. This might at least cut out those with rampant egos who don’t give a damn about their constituents.



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  • 5 Dan

    As a Canadian, here is my take on Justin Trudeau and our Liberals. I’d be surprised in my view was unique:

    The Canadian Liberals are typically act in a fashion that benefits their pocket books and the pocket books of those to whom the Liberals are beholden. Typically in Canada, this means companies that extract oil and other resources. More or less the same masters that set the agenda for our Conservatives, but the Liberals typically pursue a more left-wing (progressive or looney, depending on your view) social agenda. Where the Conservatives are unapologetic, the Liberals talk out of both sides of their mouth on any issue that is tainted by large sums of money. Our last Prime Minister Stephan Harper was autocratic, vindictive, ruthless and anti-science … and Canadians would have elected Donald Duck as PM to be rid of him. And yes, I think most of us would grant that by electing the Liberals with Justin Trudeau at the helm, that is essentially what we did.

    I imagine our American breathren may end up doing much the same thing to be rid of Donald Trump in next election unless the Democrats field a better quality candidate. It seems impossible to get leader that isn’t unglued on one critical issue or another. The Democrats waffle on acknowledging any link between Islam and terrorism for example, and thus want immigration policies as insane as the ones we have in Canada and Europe.



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  • Dan #1
    Mar 28, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    I saw an interview with a politician on Laurence O’Donnell’s show. I can’t remember his name, but he was Asian American. He said that he considers Trump to be “evil” and he also thinks that Mr. Bannon is “evil”.

    It was Ted Lieu, democratic rep from California and he was quite right. Trump is pure evil. If I believed in religion I might think he was the antichrist. Fortunately I don’t believe in religion.



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  • So a group of reactionary US politicians is going to “challenge” climate science ? Pruitt doesn’t believe in CO2 as a greenhouse gas, nobody could be lamer than Lamer on science. Then we have Inhoff and his snowball proving global cooling and other idiotic deniers of science. Will this be a “show trial” as per Stalin, or will real climate scientists be allowed to speak ?



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  • 10
    fadeordraw says:

    7 Northern Voice

    While I don’t think your voice is that unique, I think the prevalent view in Canada is indeed a balance between reducing sapient infusions of carbon in the planet’s atmosphere and continuing geo-political (the country’s) economic growth. The proposal is for a long term phasing out of the oil sands, but 1stly, with pipelines, getting the product to market. In the meantime, a carbon tax for practices to reduce carbon effluence and for reducing the economic influence of carbon-based industries. From this perspective, this is similar to the Obama Administrations approach to coal; noting that government/science thinking around the world (or the western world) converge on such selected long term industry-based approaches. Trump’s move on coal, which he likely, again, doesn’t have the authority to independently implement, is way out there in the outlier realm, as is his fundamental platform of USA 1st – we’re planetary now and there’s no going back.

    BTW: I’ve just returned from touring Vietnam and Cambodia. Motorbikes, mostly like with leaded gas, are ubiquitous and a huge, smelly source of sapient carbon effluence.



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  • It’s a setup. The panel has four climatologists as advisors, but three of these can be called skeptics in that they either doubt the validity of AGW or believe that we cannot take any actions to significantly reduce it.

    Judith Curry has said that the IPCC reports neglect uncertainty when predicting future climate change.

    John Christy is “a strong critic of scientists who make catastrophic predictions of huge increases in global temperatures and tremendous rises in sea levels”

    Dr. Roger Pielke has been labeled a “skeptic” and “denier” of climate change and his views on climate change have been widely criticized by scientists

    The fourth, Michael Mann, is strongly in favor of reducing carbon emissions but was one of the scientists at the center of the climategate affair.

    The purpose of this committee is to hang Mr Mann out to dry, demonstrating to the public that “mainstream” scientists reject the notion of AGW being pushed by liberal crackpots. Sad times indeed.



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  • Perhaps Man has not evolved as much as I thought Man has. Altruism has been described by Richard Dawkins as the ability to “take action in the interest of the long term future” and as something “uniquely human”.

    Hi Dan,

    Trouble is that there are conflicting ways of getting your genes to the next generation. For example rape is a way that can get your genes into the next generation. So it has some evolutionary advantage for some individuals, however I would argue in that case that it also is a high risk strategy as you might be killed if caught and hence your ability to get your genes into the next generation might be limited (revolting as well on a personal note – however ducks, antechinus use this all the time so this is my human sensibilities coming into play, it is therefore evil from a human standpoint). Evolution favors the most copies of your genes ending up in the next generation. So cooperation, longer term relationships would I think be more favored. So while Alturism has clearly evolved (or our brains have evolved to be capable of it) it could also arguably misfire. So I feel I need to help those suffering around me, for example. “I really feel for the unemployed”, my altruism in this case (if I’m not really smart) leads me to conclude I should invest in coal mines to make more jobs. Logically we should care more about the billions of lives present and future put at risk by global warming but you have to be smart enough or educated enough to put this into effect. Having evolved in small tribal groups our altruism only has to extent to those around us, to whomever we consider our in-group. If we are going to survive this we need to choose which of our attributes we evolved to solve the problem at hand. Altruism may not be up to the task – at least not alone.



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  • @OP- The committee, chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), has dubbed its hearing “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method.”

    They will either get some education from some real scientists and learn something useful, or they will either call a few maverick denialist muppets to cherry pick irrelevance and pseudoscience OR ignore the expert scientific advice they are given and nod in approval of “alternative facts” – so joining Lamar Smith as a laughing stock in the eyes of the scientific and educated world!

    Smith is so stupid he doesn’t know the difference between objective measurements and “assumptions”!



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  • 14
    maria melo says:

    What’s wrong with people in politics? Maybe it tends to attract the
    worst sort of people Dan

    Not necessarly, it is not quite a profession. Angela Merkel for instances has an academic degree in physics it seems. Not tomention that you and everyone else were participating in politics when you voted, if more people were not so damn ignorant, perhaps Trump wouldnt succeed, but that´s a consequence, perhaps it would be better to have some concern before, about education.

    A good news:

    http://www.portugaldigital.com.br/politica/ver/20107309-neurocientista-portugues-antonio-damasio-integra-o-conselho-de-estado



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  • Maria Melo

    That’s true; there are a lot of good ones; and we are all “political” in a sense. I am just trying to make sense of it all; why are so many (not all) politicians so destructive? Don’t they have any conscience?

    I just read about Trump’s EPA director’s apparent love of toxic pesticides. These Trump people, Maria, are a bunch of criminals. They are simply deplorable.

    Some bad news:

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/epa-head-defies-scientists-recommendation-to-ban-harmful-pesticide/



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  • Dan #5
    Mar 29, 2017 at 4:57 am

    What’s wrong with people in politics? Maybe it tends to attract the worst sort of people.

    Sociopath image builders tend to attract public and media support, because that is where their energies are directed.

    As an example I quote two UK MPs who I have known personally.

    One is constantly attending meetings with local social and political organisations, and writes regularly in the local press, but has very little idea about major industries or international business.

    The other was not very active locally, but regularly chaired parliamentary committees, and was responsible from setting up new policies on education, science and technologies, and setting up parliamentary committees dealing with encouraging and supporting innovative industries (such as information and communications technologies).
    He was regarded as “not much use” by many of his local party supporters.

    Many party members, media outlets, and members of the public, take very little interest in what legislative work their politicians actually do, but love sensational, outrageous, or scandalous media reports which keep attention-seeking “celebrities” in the public eye!



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  • @Alan4D #16

    Sounds like a vicious circle. There’s also the element of good old fashioned greed coupled with good old fashioned base ambition. Power and wealth corrupts and the corrupt sociopaths seek power and wealth. Another sort of vicious circle. Circles among circles….

    I wonder who has been bribing Pruitt all these years.

    And education, which Maria mentioned, and which we all can agree is the answer, is part of yet another vicious circle: the disenfranchised vote against their own interests because they lack education; and the swinish conservatives make sure that they stay uneducated. They do this by denying funding. DeVos and Pruitt! It’s really a ghastly state of affairs, Alan. The present administration is absolutely steeped in corruption. One scandal on top of another. And meanwhile they keep methodically chipping away at much needed oversight.

    We’ll see what happens.



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  • john.wb #11
    Mar 29, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    It’s a setup. The panel has four climatologists as advisors, but three of these can be called skeptics in that they either doubt the validity of AGW or believe that we cannot take any actions to significantly reduce it.

    Judith Curry has said that the IPCC reports neglect uncertainty when predicting future climate change.

    Which simply proves that she is too lazy, bigoted, or incompetent, to READ the estimates of probability (item by item) in the reports.

    http://www.climate2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf

    This Summary for Policymakers (SPM) follows the structure of the Working Group I report. The narrative is supported by a
    series of overarching highlighted conclusions which, taken together, provide a concise summary. Main sections are introduced
    with a brief paragraph in italics which outlines the methodological basis of the assessment.

    The degree of certainty in key findings in this assessment is based on the author teams’ evaluations of underlying scientific
    understanding and is expressed as a qualitative level of confidence (from very low to very high) and, when possible,
    probabilistically with a quantified likelihood (from
    exceptionally unlikely to virtually certain
    ).
    Confidence in the validity of a finding is based on the type, amount, quality, and consistency of evidence (e.g., data, mechanistic understanding, theory, models, expert judgment) and the degree of agreement
    1
    . Probabilistic estimates of quantified measures of uncertainty in a
    finding are based on statistical analysis of observations or model results, or both, and expert judgment

    2
    . Where appropriate, findings are also formulated as statements of fact without using uncertainty qualifiers. (See Chapter 1 and Box TS.1 for more details about the specific language the IPCC uses to communicate uncertainty).




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  • @OP – The hearing comes as the GOP, which controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, works on multiple fronts to unravel former President Obama’s aggressive agenda on fighting climate change.

    Trump’s budget proposals – which have to be approved by congress, have various climate science projects cut at NASA. – $102 million down on 2017 levels. Other cuts in NASA Earth Science budgets will be redistributed to Trump favoured Space missions.

    Terminated missions include:
    The Plankton Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite,
    Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO3),
    the Deep-Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) viewing instuments
    and the Climate Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO).
    In the budget proposal, NASA’s Office of Education would be abolished “saving” $115 million and eliminating the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, as well as several endeavours that aim to stimulate competitive research and education projects at minority universities.

    Gone are$250 million of grants and programmes “supporting coastal and marine management, research and education”, but the current generation of polar orbiting geostationary weather satellites continues. However, NOAA’s Polar Follow-On programme is cancelled, implying that only the first two satellites (JPSS-1 and 2 ) will fly and that their successors (JPSS-3 and4) will not. (Source BIS Spaceflight magazine)

    Apparently climate problems will allegedly go away, if we stop observing them! 🙂



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