Incoming House Science Chair Ralph Hall: “We have some real challenges; we have the global warming or global freezing”

GISS 60 month

The “good news” is Dana “dinosaur flatulence” Rohrabacher (R-CA) lost his bid for House Science Chair.  The sobering news is that the winner is only marginally better.  As Politico reports this morning:

Incoming Science and Tech Chairman Ralph Hall … wants Jim Sensenbrenner to lead the oversight subcommittee, assuming Paul Broun jumps over to E&C….

COAL FOR DANA ROHRABACHER? – “I don’t have anything in mind for him. He wants [a subcommittee chairmanship], but I can’t remember which one. “¦ I told him I’d talk to him before I appointed anybody and I will,” Hall said. Asked if he’ll hold a grudge over the Californian’s decision to challenge for the full committee gavel, Hall responded: “I don’t like him any better for it, but that doesn’t bother me.”

HAPPY WITH WHAT HE’S GOT – Hall said he has no plans to give the Science Committee a bigger profile in the next Congress. “I’m satisfied,” he said. “We have enough to do. We have some real challenges; we have the global warming or global freezing and then we have the space, the NASA program, that’s enough for any one committee.”

So the incoming Republican chair of the House science committee isn’t sure whether we are warming or cooling — even though he oversees NASA!  Well, here’s what NASA’s data shows:

NASA: The 12-month running mean global temperature has reached a new record in 2010 “” despite recent minimum of solar irradiance:

“We conclude that global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade” and “there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20°C/decade that began in the late 1970s.”

GISS nino

Blue curve: 12-month running-mean global temperature.   Note correlation with Nino index (red = El Nino, blue = La Nina).   Large volcanoes (green) have a cooling effect for ~2 years.

The longer term trend is unmistakeable as the top figure, also from NASA, shows.

Given his new position, perhaps Hall can take a few minutes and sit down with James Hansen and go over what the science actually says.

One final point.   Having Sensenbrenner to lead the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee would just about guarantee climate science goes on trial next year:

37 Responses to Incoming House Science Chair Ralph Hall: “We have some real challenges; we have the global warming or global freezing”

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Ralph Hall is an 87 year old lawyer from Texas, with no relevant scientific training. This is a disgraceful situation for a formerly great democracy entering an era of historic global scientific and policy challenges.

    Let’s see if he’ll surprise us and prove to be capable of reading a temperature graph. Maybe Hall will even have a senior epiphany, like Robert Byrd did. We can always hope. In this case, though, I’d be shocked if Hall woke up. Texans of all ages are a very stubborn lot.

  2. Steve Bloom says:

    I read these chair appointments as a decision to not invite the circus to town. There will still be trial balloons at the subcommittee level, though.

  3. John McCormick says:

    Mike, we have to play the cards we’ve got.

    I have known Congressman Hall to be someone who will listen on-on-one and Texas is getting into a heap of a drought even while they have experienced widespread and damaging rains early this year. Some of us enviros lobbied him to oppose utility dereg. He took a responsible and reasoned position against federal electric utility dereg which put him at odds with the industry and some enviro groups.

    He is now responsible to all of us to make something of the science of what is happening in the Texas Panhandle, its coasts and the South, in general. His voting record and public statements aside, he can be reasoned with and be reasonable.

    He would likely be open to some visits from Texas academics who can bring him to a place where Dana the dinosaur would never go.

    We cannot write off Congressman Hall and it is up to us to find a way to get to him, soon.

    John McCormick

  4. Leif says:

    Current temperature in Nuuk, Greenland is 39F. Nuuk latitude is ~150 miles north of Anchorage for the google deprived.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    An Opportunity That Cries Out

    One “nice thing” — always an optimist, except lately — about Ralph Hall is that he is a specific person, with a specific name, in an important position.

    Thus, America’s leading scientific organizations can bend over backwards, repeatedly if necessary, to reach out to him, appeal to him, address him (including in public and in the media), offer to help him understand, and basically do such things as to eliminate any possible reasonable excuse he might claim to have for not “getting it”.

    That goes for Obama too. Obama can request a meeting with him — indeed, a series of meetings — involving Hall along with Chu and Hansen. Yes! Obama should request a meeting with Hall, the head of NASA, Jim Hansen, Chu, and one or two other relevant scientific folks. It’s a matter of picking up the phone. If Hall refuses, let the media know. And try again. If he refuses again, let the media know again.

    Although he’s not the ideal person for the role (to put it mildly), there are advantages to the fact that he is, at least, A person — a specific person. The NAS, the AAAS, the ACS, the President, and so forth should all do “campaigns” targeted at him, individually AND together, in such a way that his failure to understand or to cooperate can be plentifully documented, and made widely public, if he insists on avoiding the issue and not understanding.

    The ball is in our court, at least as far as that goes.

    Who is going to run with it?



  6. caerbannog says:

    Current temperature in Nuuk, Greenland is 39F. Nuuk latitude is ~150 miles north of Anchorage for the google deprived.

    Sort by temperature and c**p your pants.

  7. peter whitehead says:

    Yes, caerbannog – Qaqortoq has around 9 deg C today and a forecast of 15 deg C for Sunday! This is at 60 degrees North.

  8. Bill W. says:

    Well, Oil and Gas was only the second-highest industry in his 2010 campaign contributions, with healthcare leading and electric utilities a ways behind. But if you look at the individual contributions, the top contributors mostly look to be technology and space-related (they’ll be happy he’s got NASA in his portfolio).

    That may or may not mean that his eyes can be opened. But oil is still big in Texas.

  9. Colorado Bob says:

    Rep. Ralph Hall (R) of Texas has been in the news this week because the octogenarian anti-environment crusader is taking over as chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee. But here at TPM we remember him for another proud moment: the day thirteen years ago when he slandered a teenaged sex slave into the House record on behalf of then-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. “[S]he wanted to do nude dancing,” said Hall of the fifteen-year-old girl who was taken from her parents in the Phillippines and forced to perform sex acts on stage and before video cameras at a Northern Marianas sex club.

    –Josh Marshall

  10. cervantes says:

    Well, the really bad news is that, just like last year, it’s unusually cold in much of the northern hemisphere temperate zone, including DC. Apparently that same abnormal polar oscillation is setting up again. And that’s what people are going to pay attention to, not the squiggly blue line.

  11. toby says:


    Sorry to be OT. Beginning to see postings online of Marc Morano’s “More Than 1000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims Scientists Continue to Debunk Fading “Consensus” in 2008 & 2009 & 2010”.

    Absolute rubbish, of course, “Swiftboating” rides again. Is there a succinct refutation of this online?

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    COLLEGE STATION, Dec. 9, 2010 – Changes in clouds will amplify the warming of the planet due to human activities, according to a breakthrough study by a Texas A&M University researcher.

    Andrew Dessler, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, says that warming due to increases in greenhouse gases will cause clouds to trap more heat, which will lead to additional warming. This process is known as the “cloud feedback” and is predicted to be responsible for a significant portion of the warming over the next century.

  13. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Steve Bloom: “Less coffee?” Commenters at USA Today seem to think it’s just more of the conspiracy.

  14. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Toby… Here’s what my response is to the deniers who bring that up: Hmmm… 1000 scientists out of probably 50 million scientists worldwide? Yes, 0.00002 is quite a daunting number. Don’t you think?

  15. Victor F. says:

    Rob Honeycutt, there are a lot less than 50 million scientists worldwide. And only a very small fraction of those scientists work in climate-related fields.

  16. Steve Bloom says:

    And scientists in what specialties? They need to be relevant ones. Also, many people with relevant-sounding PhDs (or less) are not scientists in any meaningful sense (i.e., one needs to have followed or at least be in the process of following the path through post-doctoral appointments onto academic and/or research career tracks). Past Inhofe compilations subjected to those screens haven’t been left with much still standing. Inhofe/Morano also have/had (is this even a new iteration of the list? — I didn’t look) a bad habit of taking out-of-context media quotes from legitimate climate scientists as proof of disagreement with the consensus, and then refusing to remove the names of scientists who complain. Some list. I think Joe has some past posts on this.

  17. Anne says:

    What seems like a lifetime ago, I tried to talk with Texas Congressman Ralph Hall about climate change, as a professional staff person on the House Science Committee, back with Rep. George E. Brown, Jr (D-CA) was chair, or thereabouts, in the early 1990s. Mr. Hall just smirked at me and said he didn’t believe in global warming, and dismissed the entire issue with a shrug and a smile. He’s made up his mind that there’s not a problem, and he won’t change it. We’re in for some trouble — think three steps back for every small step forward. I do think, however, that he’s OK with renewable energy, thinks it’s cute, you know, all those cute wind mills dotting the landscape, powering the oil rigs and all.

  18. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Victor… That depends on your definition of “scientist.” If you look to the Oregon Petition and their definition it’s “anyone with a BS or equivalent.”

    It’s when you drill down to those scientists who currently work and publish papers in climate science, that’s when the numbers completely flip and you have 97% of climate scientists who believe AGW is real.

    See: Doran 2009

  19. Berbalang says:

    Victor F. @ 16: While it is true that only a very small fraction work in climate-related fields, one does not have to be a scientist to be listed as a scientist to get listed on Marc (Swiftboat) Morano’s list.

  20. catman306 says:

    Grandfatherly rapture ready Republicans read reports of riparian ravages reluctantly.


  21. Colorado Bob says:

    Wheat is still moving as the disaster in Australia unfolds –

    “Frankly it tells you how fragile this wheat market really is,” Peterson said. “Five months ago we were going to be giving it away, we thought we had so much.”

  22. Colorado Bob says:

    Wheat –
    “There were a lot of buyers that were waiting for the southern hemisphere crop in Argentina and Australia to come in to see if that would moderate prices a little bit, but the situation has just done the opposite,” Peterson said.

  23. DavidCOG says:



    I just noticed that you don’t have a category for Sea-Level Rise. Worth adding?

  24. Michael Tucker says:

    The Republicans will continue to treat climate change as a joke. They will say any stupid thing they want just to see the reaction. They have absolutely no reason to take it seriously. If they can start a war and lie about the reason, if they can use the unemployed as bargaining chips, if they can play games with health care for the poor, do you really think they will take climate change seriously?

    The Republicans ONLY care about the rich and big corporations and climate change legislation will not make them richer.

  25. toby says:

    Roy Honeycutt and Victor F.,

    Yes, and yes. Morano is claiming some of these people as working in the climate field, plus quotations etc. In a recent video clip where he was debating with Joe, he started pushing this document.

    No doubt it will be used in Congress to stifle any debate because “the scientists don’t agree”, with attendant headlines in the press. That is why I think it needs a rebuttal.

    John Kerry also believed that Morano’s Swiftboating could be safely ignored.

  26. Ken_g6 says:


    Hey, Joe, have you noticed the latest climate study out of NASA, by L. Bounoua et al? They claim their new vegetation modeling shows that a doubling of CO2 would only raise global temperatures by 1.6C!

    I was kind of suspecting their plant assumptions might be wrong; but in this context I’m wondering if they’re just kissing up to the new boss?

    [JR: Studies is flawed and has been misrepresented.]

  27. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Sorry, I know this whole line is OT but overall it’s relevant…

    When faced with claims like Morano’s you’re faced with only a short moment to respond to get someone’s attention. They are flaunting a completely bogus statistic. How do you respond to effectively neuter the comment? I presented one short way to do it by saying hey, Morano is presenting the position of a very tiny fraction of the scientific field. I’m just adding an absurdly large denominator to his numerator.

    By pulling the rug out from under anyone making this claim you then open the opportunity to discuss the real data, which is that publishing climate scientists (the people who really know this area of study) almost all believe that AGW is real and is a serious issue for humanity. And then if you get people’s attention it’s possible to get them to look deeper at the issue of climate change.

  28. Crank says:

    Victor F,
    so how many scientists are there worldwide, and how do you get that number?

    Also, since you bring it up, wouldn’t it be more pertinent to ask what fraction of the “1000 scientists” who signed the cited statement work in climate related fields?

  29. Sarah says:

    On Morano’s list:

    Science is not decided by votes. It matters not one iota if they find a million ‘scientists’ for their list, unless and until one of them presents an alternate credible theory that can explain the massive store of accumulated climate data better than the theory we have.
    This trick is a staple of the creationists (### scientists don’t believe in evolution). For a response see NCSE’s “list of steves”,

  30. A face in the clouds says:

    Hall’s ability to be reelected is one of the minor mysteries of Texas politics because everyone and their dog runs against him. He’s so old he considers burning coal murder. (Sorry, I promised to stop that.)

    I do have a lot of family living in Hall’s district who have had a change of heart about climate change because of the increased frequency of damaging heat waves the past 10 to 15 years. The resulting health hazards alone have been deadly and hit close to home. If the reports we are hearing are accurate and the current La Nina continues into next summer, then Hall’s district may get surly. Besides the prospects of serious heat and drought, the district is smack dab in the middle of a big tug of war over water between the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and communities east all the way to the Louisiana border. Pollution levels along the Red River and the crippled Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer have made Lake Ray Hubbard (where Hall lives) an inviting target. It could lead to the election of Congressman Dog next time around.

  31. Wit's End says:

    If Hall doesn’t want to “believe” in global warming then maybe he’ll listen to the posthumous voice of a suicidal Texas farmer:

  32. Barry says:

    I think almost everybody dismisses the size of the climate threats when they first hear about them. I did. It took me awhile.

    I’ve personally witnessed many very bright folks in positions of authority in our society that have dismissed climate threats at first and then slowly come around on it.

    Hall might come around too. We have to give people the opportunity to change rather than defining them as “unchangable”.

    As others have pointed out in the comments, two good ways to do this are to:

    — point out the climate threats already happening in his district and state.

    — get him access to experts that he can learn from

    I also think an essential component of switching from denial is to have a solution to the problem that you can fit into your world view and values. This part is missing from GOP and conservatives so far. Epic fail on their parts.

  33. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Re: Morano’s list. Greenfyre has some info and broad-scale debunking, with a few examples here.

  34. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    p.s. check out page 60 of the report, third name down–Watts is now considered an international scientist apparently. Looks like this list is composed of the names from various open letters.

    So Watts himself is probably not saying he’s a scientist–he just signed an open ‘skeptic’ letter. It is Morano who just copied and pasted the names from the open letters and lumped them in under the title International Scientists.

    As Greenfyre notes, if this list is composed of names from open letters, then there will be a few repeats (Lindzen appears at least twice and his name is referenced in half a dozen other places).

  35. Owen says:

    The Politico link does not go to a quote by Ralph Hall about Global Freezing. I have not been able to find that quote on Politico’s website.

    [JR: They don’t have permalinks for Morning Energy. I complained.]