U.S. House Science Committee declares the IPCC report isn’t science, fills agenda with climate science denialistsPosted by Jim at Saturday, May 31, 2014
By Mark Strauss
30 May 2014
(io9) – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that more intense droughts and heat waves will cause famine and water shortages. But, don't worry! Yesterday, the GOP held a hearing to tell us the IPCC is, in fact, a global conspiracy to control our lives and "redistribute wealth among nations." [Archived webcast]
The hearing, titled "Examining the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Process," was convened by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology—the same folks who recently demonstrated their inability to grasp the idea that the world's climate varies across different regions and who informed us that warmer weather didn't bother the dinosaurs, so what's all the fuss about?
In principle, there's nothing wrong with assessing the methodology of such an important and influential report. But, in one of those quintessential moments of Washington double-think, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX)—who accuses the IPCC of creating data to serve a predetermined political agenda—summarized the hearing's conclusions a day before it even began. "The IPCC does not perform science itself and doesn't monitor the climate," Smith told a reporter, "but only reviews carefully selected scientific literature."
So, small wonder that Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the ranking Democrat on the committee, offered the opinion:
While the topic of today's hearing is a legitimate one, namely, how the IPCC process can be improved, I am concerned that the real objective of this hearing is to try to undercut the IPCC and to cast doubt on the validity of climate change research.
We aren't going to get very far if we spend our time continually revisiting a scientific debate that has already been settled. Nor will we get far if we continue a recent practice on this Committee of seeming to question the trustworthiness and integrity of this nation's scientific researchers.
Fair and Balanced
Another source of Johnson's skepticism might have been that three of the four expert witnesses testifying at the hearing either deny that humans are responsible for global warming or believe that the potential impact of climate change is grossly overstated.
The witnesses for the prosecution were:
(1) Roger Pielke, Sr.
Who is he?
Senior Research Scientist, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University
What's he known for?
Pielke says that carbon dioxide is responsible, at most, for about 28% of human-caused warming up to the present and he is among the most vocal skeptics of reports that the polar ice caps are melting and that sea levels are rising.
What did he say at the hearing?
The IPCC is "giving decision makers who face decisions at the regional and local level a false sense of certainty about the unfolding climate future." […]
The Q & A
The lone witness for the defense was Michael Oppenheimer, the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University. He was selected by the Democrats, "because he's one of the foremost experts in the world and has been involved with the IPCC," a spokesperson for the Democratic contingent of the committee told Motherboard reporter Jason Koebler.
Koebler describes how things went down at the hearing after the experts presented their statements:
For two hours, climate change deniers interrupted, berated, and cut off Oppenheimer, while the other three other witnesses fielded softball questions from conservative lawmakers and dodged tougher ones from Democratic ones.
In fact, at one point, Rep. Larry Buchson (R-Ind.), who, seconds before had interrupted Oppenheimer and said he wasn't interested in hearing his views, wanted to "apologize on behalf of Congress" to Pielke for the aforementioned "juvenile and insulting questions trying to disparage the credibility" of witnesses who didn't take climate change seriously….
Dana Rohrabacher [R-CA] pulled out the air quotes when he said "global warming," and took offense to Oppenheimer not being able to "capsulize" all the reasons why he believes that climate change is a big deal in 10 seconds. Smith suggested that the "only thing we know about [climate change models] is that they will be wrong" and suggested that "even if the US was completely eliminated, it's not going to have any discernible impact on global temperatures in the near or far future."
Paul Broun [R-GA] and Buchson noted their belief in the "scientific process" and suggested that they knew more about it because they are doctors (Broun is a dentist; Buchson is a surgeon).
So predictable, and such a waste of time. As I noted earlier, in principle, there is nothing wrong with assessing the methodology of such an important and influential report. But there are far better ways to do it than this. [more]