By Vanessa Schipani
1 February 2016
(FactCheck.org) – While on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz gave a speech to local residents that contained inaccurate and misleading claims about climate science and its terminology:
- Cruz claimed “none of the alarmists say ‘global warming’ anymore — now it’s ‘climate change.’ ” That’s inaccurate. Scientists still use both terms, but tend to use “climate change” more often because, in addition to warming, it refers to phenomena such as sea-level rise and changes in precipitation patterns.
- Cruz also said “climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory because it can never, ever, ever be disproven.” This is false. It could be, but the chances are slim. Climate change rests on the veracity of the greenhouse effect, a theory which has been repeatedly verified since it was first proposed in 1824.
- Cruz says “if it gets hotter or colder, wetter or drier — the climate has always changed since the beginning of time.” That’s misleading. The climate fluctuates due to natural causes, but it’s unlikely that these phenomena alone account for some more recent changes. The models do not predict uniform warming or cooling. Some places may be cooler, but overall warming is expected.
Cruz made his remarks in Conway, New Hampshire, on 19 January 2016, the day before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA released findings that strongly suggest 2015 was the hottest year on record by a long shot.
Cruz, Jan. 19: Has anyone noticed in the past couple of years, the theory has magically changed a third time? Now none of the alarmists say ‘global warming’ anymore — now it’s ‘climate change.’ … If you are a big government politician, if you want more power, climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory. How many of y’all remember high school biology? Remember the scientific method? You start with a hypothesis and then you use evidence to try to disprove the hypothesis, to test it to see if it’s true. Climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory because it can never, ever, ever be disproven. If it gets hotter or colder, wetter or drier — the climate has always changed since the beginning of time. It will continue to change till the end of time.
This isn’t the first time during the presidential campaign that Cruz has called climate change “pseudoscientific.”
On 8 December 2015, Cruz, in an NPR interview, said: “Climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory for a big government politician who wants more power. Why? Because it is a theory that can never be disproven.” [more]
NORTH CONWAY, N.H. (AP) — Ted Cruz is decidedly at odds with the scientific consensus that Earth is warming because of human activity.
A look at some of the Republican presidential contender's claims on the subject in New Hampshire this week and how they compare with the facts:
CRUZ: "The satellites that actually measure the temperature, that we've launched into the air to measure the temperature, they have recorded no significant warming whatsoever for the last 18 years."
THE FACTS: Scientists, including those who work with the very satellite measuring system that Cruz refers to, say he's misusing the satellite data. They do show warming, albeit relatively little over the period Cruz cites, says Carl Mears, senior scientist for Remote Sensing Systems, which produces the data that Cruz refers to.
But by starting his comparison period in 1997, Cruz has selected a time when temperatures spiked because of an El Nino weather pattern. Starting at an artificially high point minimizes the rate of increase since then, Mears said, adding, "If you start riding your bike at the top of a big hill, you always go downhill, at least for a while."
More important is what's measured at the Earth's surface, where people live, Mears said. Those ground-based systems show a greater degree of warming.
The long-term trend that Mears' satellites show is about 0.7-degree warming since 1979, when satellites started measuring temperature. Ground-based monitors show a warming of about 1 degree during the same period. And 1979 was not among the top five hottest or coldest years in the 36 years of records.
CRUZ: "John Kerry said in 2009 the polar ice caps will be entirely melted by 2013. ... Has anyone noticed the polar ice caps are still there? In fact, there was an expedition that went down to Antarctica to prove that the polar ice caps were melting ... (the ship) got stuck in the ice because in fact the polar ice caps have increased. They are larger than they were. So not only was Kerry incorrect, he was spectacularly absolutely opposite the facts."
THE FACTS: Kerry was talking about the ice cap at the North Pole, and it's true that it hasn't melted as he predicted. But in pointing that out, Cruz distorts the facts by referring to a ship that got stuck in Antarctic ice a world away near the South Pole.
Scientists do say it's only a matter of decades before the sea ice around the North Pole will be melted during the summer months, and some countries' navies are already exploring the area for quicker sea routes. Scientific measurements in Antarctica — where thick ice sheets sit atop land, not floating on the ocean as in the Arctic — show the ice sheets are diminishing on one side while growing on the other. But the fact that a ship got stuck in ice in the Antarctica doesn't tell us anything about the phenomenon. [more]