Fred Upton on Climategate: “We do need hearings”

In previously unreported remarks, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the top candidate for the chairmanship of the House energy committee, questioned the science of man-made global warming and called for Congressional hearings to investigate climate scientists.  Brad Johnson has the story.

On January 14, 2010, Upton participated in a panel challenging the scientific consensus that fossil pollution is destabilizing the climate, arranged by Detroit News in conjunction with the 2010 North American International Auto Show. Moderated by global warming denier and right-wing radio host Frank Beckmann, “Are Green Auto Rules Based On Flawed Science?” also featured industry deniers Pat Michaels and Myron Ebell. When asked if “the emails from East Anglia University that seem to show a pattern of concealment at the least, deception at the extreme” should “affect climate policy here in the United States,” Upton claimed that there is “no real science” that supports climate policy and then called for Climategate hearings:

All of the steps Americans were going to take, businesses and individuals, the added costs that we were going to incur “” Consumers Energy told us just because of cap-and-trade, energy costs would rise in Michigan by almost 40 percent by 2020. Are any of those incurred costs actually going to impact the rising temperature of debate? The answer was no. No matter what we did between now and 2050, it, it, there was no real science to verify that it would reduce the temperature rise that some predicted. And that’s why we do need hearings.

Watch it:

In fact, the threat of global warming pollution has been understood since the 1950s. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that the enactment of U.S. climate legislation would greatly impact rising temperatures, reducing the risk of warming by 2 C from 99 percent to 25 percent, and the risk of 4 C warming from 32 percent to practically zero. That is why the National Academies of Science recommended in May that the United States “act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Upton is just one of several top House Republicans who have called for a witch hunt against practicing climate scientists. After Upton’s remarks in January, the scientists have been repeatedly exonerated of the unfounded charges of conspiracy and corruption laid against them by the right wing. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), in line to take over the oversight committee, has repeatedly called for hearings, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) hopes to use the global warming committee to investigate scientists. Upton’s challenger, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), also wants to launch McCarthyite show trials on climate science.

Upton enjoys a reputation as a “moderate on environmental issues,” but he has become as extreme as the rest of his Tea Party colleagues on global warming and other environmental rules.

The Wonk Room previously reported that Upton was “the only candidate to take over the House Committee on Energy and Commerce who doesn’t explicitly question the science of manmade global warming.” We regret the error.

– Brad Johnson, in a Wonk Room cross-post.

23 Responses to Fred Upton on Climategate: “We do need hearings”

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    If he really wants energy security(national security) he would help establish decentralized clean tech solutions.

    It appears that the climategate propaganda from the GOP was a orchestrated campaign at this time and the GOP has now realized that they will fail if they continue to attack the science. At least that’s what i hope and as your other post today indicates.

    To me he seems more capable then genesis shimkus or oil barton.

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    Quick Thought

    Although I haven’t read the post fully, I’m starting to think that I DO think it would be a fine and good idea to have these hearings, as long as:

    If these hearings are had (and perhaps the scientific community and the movement should embrace them) …

    1. First of all, the Democrats on the Committee should make sure that the time and format allow for plenty of detail, good lengthy discussion, and plenty of time for them (the Demos) to ask questions and allow the scientists to speak. If the Repubs want just a short hearing, and want to structure it so that time is limited and that they can just ask crummy questions and get sound-bite responses, then no go. So, structuring the “hearings” or sessions well, and with plenty of time, and being able to invite the right folks, is the key.

    2. Second, these “hearings” or sessions — before them, during them, and after them — should be THE prompters for large numbers of scientists to show up, demonstrate, walk the block, show signs, and generally create a sight and raise their scientific voices. So, only a modest portion of the show will be in the hearings/sessions themselves. This can be one of the events that literally CALLS scientists to speak out, loudly and clearly and in numbers never seen before. The town of Washington should be abuzz with scientists from all over the U.S. and from around the world, and let’s have more scientists in Washington than the world has ever before seen in one place at one time. The scientists should spank Washington.

    3. The scientific organizations should also speak out at that time, before it, and after it. Print campaigns. TV campaigns. Radio campaigns. The Whole Wide World — and certainly all Americans — should finally see and understand that we have a REAL problem on our hands, and they should also see how ridiculous the Republicans have been and are being. We have the facts on our side, and if we can’t send a loud message, and ultimately win, with the facts on our side, we don’t even deserve to play the game.

    So, you get the idea. The more I think about it, the more I think that we should embrace the whole thing. We need solidifying events. The greatest gift to the status quo would be if we just sit around and twiddle our thumbs and make complaints on the internet.



  3. cervantes says:

    Absolutely, hold hearings. Bring ’em on!

    Remember, the minority members get to call witnesses and ask questions too.

  4. David B. Benson says:

    Another Mad Hatter Climate Zombie.

  5. Jeff Huggins is right. Bring it on!

  6. Nick says:

    Oh, my democracy of purchased, spineless, incurious (yet, ambitious) souls!

  7. Warren says:

    However, if the Republican congressional leadership gets its way, there will NOT be hearing on climate science. The Republican leadership (McConnell and Boehner) has already publicly opposed any hearings or “witch hunts” into the science of climate change. Instead, they will attack the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. Even the Republican leadership understands that actually holding hearings on the science will make them look extremely foolish.

  8. Mark Shapiro says:

    Who will make the “rapid response” youtubes debunking the hearings, scrutinizing the influence of coal oil and gas companies, pointing out the distortions and lies? It would be fun!

  9. Jeff Huggins says:

    We have to let them move into a canyon (in their attempt to attack the science, or the economics, or the EPA’s authority, or whatever) so we can effectively surround them on all hillsides, block the entrance to the canyon, and then (figuratively) do what they do in the movies when they have an enemy army trapped in a canyon.

    If they attack the science, bring out the scientists, and bring ten times as many as are needed, because we’ve got to move from defense to offense.

    If they say that government regulation is unnecessary, that a carbon price is unnecessary, and so forth, then bring out that Milton Friedman quote that says clearly otherwise in cases like this, and so forth.

    If, on purely legalistic grounds, they argue that the EPA has no authority, well then, make sure we make the science compelling (bring on the scientists) and then let the Repubs try to use silly nuanced legalistic arguments (even against what the Supreme Court has already ruled!?) to try to weasel around and make their case: good luck, that will be an embarrassing techno-legal spectacle. “The EPA doesn’t have the authority to help address this immense problem we have, that will alter Earth’s climate, because they forgot to dot this ‘i’ and file the legal brief in time.” Right?!

    If they say it’s too expensive to address right now, point out all the jobs that will actually be created, decide to end the war, and remind them that we should end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest folks.

    I mean, they don’t have legs to stand on IF they actually enter a public forum to debate arguments. WE are the ones who want the forums and need to make the arguments. Their (the Repubs) best bet is to AVOID focused and publicized forums in which their arguments can be completely and entirely demolished, for all to see.

    We need to go on the offensive. We need to get our acts together, get our arguments together, plan well, get creative, and go on the offensive. Period.



  10. Lamont says:

    yeah, i’m leaning towards letting the hearings go on…

    either it’ll backfire on them in the present, or in the future…

    it could wind up being right up there with McCarthy and the HUAC…

  11. Jim Groom says:

    I e-mailed Darrll Issa requesting that yes indeed he should chair an investigation committee. I even provided a list of a dozen or so climate scientist. I advised that having a televised investigation of ‘Climategate’ and the subject of Global Climate Change would be a great service to the nation if not the world. It would provide a format for the men and women of science to educate the members of Congress who obviously need all the help they can get in understanding a subject that again, obviously, is way beyond their pay-grade.
    Perhaps his fellow climate experts could convince Jones to fly over the big pond to convince the GOP members how to read e-mails, in their entirety, and not just cherry-pick portions they don’t understand.

  12. Alteredstory says:

    How about we have the hearings under the condition that if proof of an evil conspiracy fails to be provided, the GOP drops all opposition and pushes action on climate change.

    Seeing as how that scenario would imply that (gasp) the scientists were RIGHT, it would also mean that there would be no more excuses.

  13. Andy says:

    I imagine that most climate scientists are would do no better in a courtroom, deposition-like hearing than the above commentors. A hearing would be disaster. The claim by Rep. Upton sailed over your heads.

    Rep. Upton, slimeball that he is, is saying that nothing we do now will cause a decrease in global temperatures by 2060. He’s right.

    The temperature increase between now and then is already built into the climate by the greenhouse gases already emitted.

    And there is enough noise or natural variability in our climate system that I doubt climate scientists would make the claim that anything we do today will produce a statistically measurable reduction in global temps in 50 years.

    Of course it would save the world in the long run, but that isn’t counter to Rep. Upton’s claim.

    Remember the BBC’s question to Phil Jones? “Has there been a statistically significant increase in global temps since 1998?”

    Never mind that the question is meaningless.

    Expect the same sort of “have you stopped beating your wife yet” questions to dominate any sort of congressional hearing on global warming.

  14. Andy says:

    Re: Jeff Huggin’s comment:

    “If, on purely legalistic grounds, they argue that the EPA has no authority, ….”

    I want it to be clear that the regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA is not due only to a technicality interpreted wrongly by the courts.

    This claim comes out of the republican’s mouths and is false.

    Senator Al Gore and others saw global warming coming long before others and stuck the regulatory authority over greenhouse gases in the 1990 Clean Air Act reauthorization. Their republican foes were clueless even back then and allowed the language to stay.

    The 1990 Clean Air Act is unambiguous. It clearly and specifically states that greenhouse gases are to be regulated by the EPA. It’s right there in the act’s wording.

    Just because Fox News and the republicans continuously blame an “activist” court for EPA’s regulatory authority doesn’t make it true.

  15. Chris Winter says:

    I wonder if any of these Republicans (or their staffers, more likely) are regular readers of CP.

  16. J A Turner says:

    Think of it this way: The GOP is trainwreck in slow motion. The R’s are in a terrible bind: their big contributors (upon whom the GOP’s survival depends)are delusionally and dangerously out of step with the constraints of physical reality, and consequently the party leaders are under terrible pressure to go along with rhetoric and policies that are sure to explode in their faces. They’re just gambling that the short term gains that they’re seeking will somehow be worth the collosal disaster that they’re courting. It will only change when either public sentiment totally overrides the nonsense the GOP is touting, or their contributors come to their senses, or a calamity so great happens that the Big Lie is exposed.

  17. Mike Roddy says:

    I used to be friends with Republican Congressman Steve Horn of Long Beach, who was head of the Government Management and Oversight Committee in the House in the 90’s. Steve was part of that now extinct species of independent and educated Republicans, and a sign at the door of his office in DC said “No PAC’s”.

    He told me that he could call and hold hearings on his own, and some of them (where I testified at times) were out of sync with Republican leadership, as Waxman is often too honest for the Democrats.

    Issa actually wants to be president, and cracked up on camera during his last failed run to be Governor of California. He may just decide to hold Climategate hearings anyway, especially since he has a lot more money than Boehner and McConnell combined, and he’d get all that camera time. Let’s encourage the old car thief to go for it. Mann, Trenberth, and Hansen would be great witnesses.

  18. peter whitehead says:

    The Shimkus story made the London “Daily Mail”:

    “A Republican congressman hoping to chair the powerful House Energy Committee refers to the Bible and God on the issue of global warming.
    Representative John Shimkus insists we shouldn’t concerned about the planet being destroyed because God promised Noah it wouldn’t happen again after the great flood.
    Speaking before a House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing in March, 2009, Shimkus quoted Chapter 8, Verse 22 of the Book of Genesis.
    He said: ‘As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.’

    Really helps America’s worldwide reputation.

  19. J A Turner says:

    RE: 18. The argument Mr. Shimkus is making misconstrues the text in two important ways: The promise he is citing is that there will be no divinely-imposed inundation of the planet that would top the mountains (i.e., be 30,000 feet deep). It says nothing about a human-caused rise in sea level of a few dozen feet. Mr. Shimkus ought to know full well that the same source also says “God is not mocked: Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Mr. Shimkus ought at least to get his theology straight. There is no divine promise to protect us from making a very big mess of things.

  20. Jeff Huggins says:

    Regarding Andy’s Comment (Comment 14)

    Good, and thanks Andy. Thus, there is no sensible basis upon which the Repubs could possibly challenge the matter, and (as in all cases) when we have the facts on our side, we should EMBRACE the debates and battles — and prepare well for them — rather than shying away from them.



  21. MightyDrunken says:

    Part of me wants to agree that hearings would be a good thing and show how the scientists have made their decision based on the best available evidence.
    However I suspect that if a Republican led hearing did occur into climate science the hearings would be skewed to give the answer they would like. For instance they could pose the question, “is there any doubt in the scientists finding”. And of course there is – as with predicting any complex system. Then it would become a fact that we don’t know what will exactly happen and therefore we should do nothing. After all we don’t want to destroy the economy! Faulty logic which seems to be how many people think.

  22. Alteredstory says:

    Re: Andy #13

    “The claim by Rep. Upton sailed over your heads.

    Rep. Upton, slimeball that he is, is saying that nothing we do now will cause a decrease in global temperatures by 2060. He’s right.”

    He’s right, but that’s not what we’re trying to do anymore. The easiest response to that is “No, we can’t make that happen anymore, thanks to you and your ilk, so now we have a different priority.”

    We are now at the point of working out not if, but when the changes will become catastrophic. Not if, but when it will get so bad that only the lunatic fringe will doubt that there’s a problem.

    There is, however, an “if” question left to us, and it is of paramount importance. The question is if we will be able to take action in time to start talking about when the worst effects of climate change will be over. In 50 years, I’d like to be having a conversation about when the glaciers will return.

  23. peter whitehead says:

    Climate scientist who are called to give evidence should (a) publish their opinion in advance with full media release (b) answer all stupid questions by saying ‘That’s a stupid question, did you ever pass a science exam?’
    Or they could say ‘ I was tempted by Satan to tell people about global warming, and here’s Satan’s picture’. A large picture of Sarah Palin with added horns, tail and pitchfork should do nicely.