House Energy chair Fred Upton (R-MI) on global warming: “I do not accept that it is man-made”

Bizarrely asserts 2010 was “the warmest year in the last decade”

NASA 2010

What do you think is scarier?  Is it that the powerful chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee flip-flopped to become a denier of basic climate science, like most Congressional conservatives?

Or is that he’s so ill-informed he actually told the National Journal‘s Ron Brownstein, “there was a report a couple of weeks ago that in fact you look at this last year, it was the warmest year in the last decade, I think was the numbers that came out”?  In fact, the report from both NASA and NOAA was that 2010 was the warmest year (tied with 2005) in more than a century of temperature records.

Brad Johnson reports (with video) and you decide!

At a public forum today, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the new head of the House energy committee, denied that climate change is manmade. Upton, who received $20,000 from Koch Industries in his most recent campaign, had called for a reduction in greenhouse emissions as recently as June 2009. Upton has now introduced legislation with Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to overturn the scientific finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that greenhouse pollution threatens public health. This morning, Upton was pressed by National Journal‘s Ron Brownstein as to why the Upton-Inhofe bill describes climate change as “possible.” After repeated attempts to avoid the question, Upton finally explained his wide-straddling stance: he accepts that the planet is warming, but not that the billions of tons of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity are a cause:

“I have said many times, and there was a report a couple of weeks ago that in fact you look at this last year, it was the warmest year in the last decade, I think was the numbers that came out. I don’t “” I accept that. I do not say that it is man-made.”

Upton then repeated the falsehood that “even if cap-and-trade had been enacted, it would not have changed the temperature by a tenth of a degree anywhere in the world.”

In reality, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that U.S. cap-and-trade would avoid several degrees of catastrophic warming. And 2010 was not just the hottest year this decade, but the hottest year in recorded history. This is why the National Academies of Science found last year that “climate change is occurring and is caused in large part by human activities” and that the United States should “act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Instead, tomorrow Upton will hold a hearing with several witnesses funded by Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries to praise the Upton-Inhofe pollution act.

— Brad Johnson

Perhaps when Upton said “it was the warmest year in the last decade,” what he really meant to say was last year was “part of the warmest decade on record.”

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34 Responses to House Energy chair Fred Upton (R-MI) on global warming: “I do not accept that it is man-made”

  1. Mark Shapiro says:

    It truly is amazing what money can buy.

  2. J Bowers says:

    Joe, I’d hazard a guess that this is where the little political soirees for politicians held by the likes of the Kochs may have an effect. I imagine that they’re quite informal, friendly and personal, and successful at putting across the denialist trope in a way that makes it difficult for the mark not to be persuaded somehow, or at least feel better about toe-ing the line because “those guys seemed to be okay, and there might be plenty of easy election funding”. Just look at how a few beers in Lisbon has kicked up a storm of argument over “the science is settled”, even if it wasn’t an engineered scenario. That’s something the Heartland conferences probably do well – they bring people together face to face and alliances form.

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    “tomorrow Upton will hold a hearing with several witnesses funded by Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries to praise the Upton-Inhofe pollution act.”

    Doesn’t make a difference if you have the boy Upton “up” there or any other employee of BIG DIRTY OIL.

  4. Zetetic says:

    Yeah…campaign contributions, soirees, and possibly a few secret overseas “retirement” accounts too.

    It’s amazing how quickly someone like Upton can ignore the science and betray the American public (not to mention the world) once a few palms are sufficiently greased.

  5. David B. Benson says:

    Here is another, older graph which suggests the cause:

    Uh, Mr. Upton, Nature’s laws are not repealable.

  6. Mike Roddy says:


    I think it’s likely that plenty of undisclosed cash is changing hands here. The declared “campaign contributions” are the tip of the iceberg. That would explain why Congressmen like Upton, Barrasso, McCain and the rest can be bought so cheap: their actual price figures to be much higher.

  7. Zetetic says:

    @ Mike Roddy:
    No disagreement from me there, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Especially with the massive fossil fuel industry profits on the line.

    I was just being careful to avoid making a specific claim accusing Upton of such hidden accounts, without direct evidence to support it, and instead just pointed out the possibility. It wouldn’t surprise me if he and other republicans had such an arraignment, and it would explain a lot of their behavior, but I have no hard evidence to definitively make such an accusation.

    It would be great if such evidence could be found, but it’s unlikely to ever be found out while they are still in office. Short of a whistle blower that is.

  8. Zach says:

    Nope, it’s not humans, it’s the shifts in the magnetic poles:

    “Forget about global warming—man-made or natural—what drives planetary weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun’s magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet’s own magnetic field.”

    Who comes up with this stuff? Clearly Occam’s Razor doesn’t apply when you have ridiculous amounts of money buying the ‘right’ answer.

  9. Prokaryotes says:

    That salem news item is on the google frontpage, filed under “spotlight”.

  10. George Ennis says:

    It would seem that Mr. Upton knows no shame. The truth he speaks can be bought quite cheaply.

  11. Mike says:

    The next time someone can pin him down in an interview, they might ask further if he is “not convinced human activity is causing climate change” or if he is fairly certain human activity is not causing or likely to cause climate change. If he says it is 50-50 whether humans are causing climate change, then one can still make a strong case for preventive action. If the sign says there is a 50% chance the bridge is out, you don’t hit the gas.

  12. David B. Benson says:

    I would call him a loon except that would be an insult to a fine bird species.

  13. David B. Benson says:

    On the other hand…

    3. loon – a person with confused ideas; incapable of serious thought
    addle-head, addlehead, birdbrain
    misfit – someone unable to adapt to their circumstances


  14. Jay Dee Are says:

    So how does Freddy Boy explain the dilution of carbon-13 in the atmosphere? Does he even know about it? How does Upton’s grasp of the issue compare to CO2-is-not-a-carcinogen Boehner’s? (I think I’m going cry.)

  15. paulm says:

    Here is the verdict…can we get a state of emergency going Obama?


    Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland

  16. Zetetic says:

    @ Zach:
    Wow! That’s some weapons grade stupid in that article alright!

    Take a few facts and use it to make a bunch of unconnected and baseless assertions while ignoring all of the other evidence.

    I’m betting that within less than a week we’ll be seeing denialists throwing out that nonsense out everywhere.

  17. Ed Hummel says:

    That’s why I’m so pessimistic about everything. If humans really acted rationally (especially those with some power) and didn’t just follow their base instincts most of the time, money wouldn’t talk so loudly and we might actually get something done.

  18. David B. Benson says:

    All is explained: Upton earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Michigan in 1975 from the unmentioned online encyclopedia.

  19. Chris Winter says:

    Zach, I believe that Salem News article derives from a 1999 book by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, titled The Coming Global Superstorm. I haven’t read it, in fact I purposely avoided reading it. But it seems to be the source, as well as a big influence on The Day After Tomorrow

  20. Crank says:


    “Forget about global warming—man-made or natural—what drives planetary weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun’s magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet’s own magnetic field.”

    Who comes up with this stuff? Clearly Occam’s Razor doesn’t apply when you have ridiculous amounts of money buying the ‘right’ answer.

    Actually, I think the author is just a nut, of a variety I’ve sadly encountered before. If you follow one of the few citations in the article to the website called “Earth Changes Media” all will become clear. Pretty much every paragraph of the Salem News article has a corresponding story on that website.

    He left out the references to prophecies of earthquakes based on Lunar eclipses, though. No, I didn’t make that up. Check it out if you can spare the inevitable loss of IQ points that will result from reading it… It’s all linked to the left sidebar where it says “Mitch’s Articles” or some such.

  21. Sou says:

    I have to ask what is behind this turnaround. Is it dirty tactics operating within the Republican Party itself against its own members? Or is it some extreme ‘party discipline’ being imposed on its members? (In Australia, ‘party discipline’ is imposed on agreed topics, while with other topics party members are allowed ‘conscience’ votes. In the USA I understood there was less use made of ‘party discipline’.)

    It could be money but with all the flip flops from individual Republicans, I am starting to doubt that it is only money/bribes driving this ‘solidarity against truth’ (or ‘let’s attack humanity’ as it should be called). I hope there can be more intense investigation into whether or not there are more devious actions being used to turn Republican politicians against the people who they are supposed to represent.

    (Hope I’m not turning into a loony conspiracy theorist!)

  22. Committee of Correspondence says:

    In the interview, Rep. Upton wanted Brownstein to read the legislation. Indeed we all should. Text of Upton’s draft “Energy Tax Reduction Act” is available via The House Energy and Commerce Committee web page, which as a pdf link.

    The legislation would deregulate emissions of all greenhouse gases, categorically.
    It defines a greenhouse gas as any of the following: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons,
    “Any other substance subject to, or proposed to be subject to, regulation, action, or consideration under this Act [Clean Air Act] due to concerns regarding possible climate change.”

    So, if we even think something might be a greenhouse gas, it is automatically deregulated!! Wow!!
    I am dumbfounded. It has been a long time since I have seen draft legislation that seeks so explicitly to repress even consideration of a matter.

    Neither Inhofe nor Upton are lawyers by training, and despite Congress’s reading of the Constitution, they don’t get the drift. I’m feeling a bit over the top on this, but one of the complaints against the British Crown listed in the Declaration of Independence was that the King had been “abolishing our most valuable Laws.”


  23. Zetetic says:

    @ Sou:
    Over in the “Global Warming witch trial” thread we were just discussing the same thing. I think that an investigation of some sort is in order, but ultimately that’s still just a short-term tactic.

    @ everyone in general:
    I think that in the long run the Democrats need to focus more on counting the Republican’s “stick” of immediate fears with immediate “carrots”. IMO the Dems haven’t been doing well enough there.

    An example to counter the Republican “stick” of “It’ll cost jobs!” would be for the Dems to propose something like a renewable energy job training programs, especially for those that lose their jobs in the fossil fuel industry as such plants and mines get phased out/shut down.

    To counter the “stick” of “It’ll increase the cost of your monthly expenses!” I think that it make more sense for the Democrats to replace Cap-and-Trade with James Hansen’s “ Cap and Fade “.

    IMO Cap-and-Fade sounds simpler, more effective, and easier to convince the public of it’s utility since it benefits the public both directly and more immediately.

    In the long run bribes, contributions, and party discipline won’t amount to much for the GOP if more of the public supports such proposals and stops voting for Republicans that oppose them. But that’s not likely to happen unless the Democrats more clearly demonstrate that they are aware of the impacts of such regulations and that they can offer immediate benefits to the public (such as Cap-and-Fade).

  24. caerbannog says:

    Just a quick note about NASA’s temperature results. Anyone with so-so programming skills (like moi) can replicate them with remarkable fidelity quite easily.

    I spent a bit of time fiddling with the GHCN data (the land station data that NASA uses) and coded up a simple “gridded-average” global temperature anomaly routine. Here’s a plot of my own results vs. NASA’s (my results in blue, NASA’s in orange):

    Now mind you, it didn’t take me very long at all to code up the software that generated my results (and I would have taken me even less time if it weren’t for the beer).

    Now, what is it about deniers that has made them unable to accomplish in *years* what I was able to do in my spare time (with a beer at my side much of the time) in a few *days*???

  25. thayer says:

    The only known solutions to Global Warming .
    .. 1 Don’t vote for idiots
    .. 2 Vote out idiots
    .. 3 Repeat steps 1 & 2

  26. Pythagoras says:

    It is not the contributions to Upton that are influencing his position. It is the unstated threat that failure to toe the (tea) party line will result in a well-financed primary fight that will in all likelihood result in a loss of his House seat. These are the same guys that swiftboated Kerry. The are very good. Are very well connected. Have very deep pockets. And don’t play fair.

  27. Crank says:

    Now, what is it about deniers that has made them unable to accomplish in *years* what I was able to do in my spare time (with a beer at my side much of the time) in a few *days*???

    It’s because they don’t want to. That’s pretty much all there is…

  28. Mark says:

    English politics is corrupt, degenerate and ignorant of much science, but boy do you have problems.

  29. Sime says:

    Hitch Hikers guide to the galaxy and Douglas Adams, the book(s) were funny… sadly Fred Upton is not.

    Daft as a hairbrush, the Ravenous Upton Beast of Traal is arguably the most insanely idiotically dense creature in existence. It believes that since you can’t see CO2, it can’t be there. Therefore, if you are faced by the horrid (yes, horrid, in spite of its intelligence, or lack of) Upton Beast you should wrap a vice around your head (you do have one, don’t you!?) to TEMPORARILY ward off the Upton Beast’s voracious stupidity.

    “My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber,” Fred muttered to himself, “and that I am therefore excused from saving the planet.”

    The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of Fred, common sense snuck in at number 79

    “So what’s the point of showing me something I can’t see?” asked Fred
    “So that you understand that just because you see something, it doesn’t mean to say it’s there. And if you don’t see something, it doesn’t mean to say it’s not there. It’s only what your senses bring to your attention.”

    It wasn’t Fred job to worry about that, though. It was his job to do his job, which was to do his job. If that led to a certain narrowness of vision and circularity of thought, then it wasn’t his job to worry about such things. Any such things that came his way were referred to others, who had, in turn, other people to refer such things to.

    “What do you think I am?” asked Fred, “Completely without any moral whatsits, what are they called, those moral things?”

    One planet, one atmosphere, you can’t pollute just part of the atmosphere any more than you can sugar quarter of a cup of tea you stupid man.

  30. Artful Dodger says:

    It’s not just that the Koch’s give $20,000 to a GOP Candidate; it’s the real threat of giving $2,000,000 to a Tea Party Primary Challenger that drives these stunning reversals. Thank the SCOTUS for the best Democracy you can Buy.

  31. Very Good story. The effect of Global warming is already felt. It is everybody’s concern to contribute to avert it.

    Here is a caution by “ Time fgor Change:

    “By the year 2050, the average CO2 emissions needed to be reduced to 2 tonnes per capita (current world-wide average is 4.5 tonnes, American average is 20 tonnes and European average is 10 tonnes per year, current CO2 emissions by country ). In the medium and long term, there is no justification for the industrialised world to pollute the Earth more than others. So we should reduce our carbon footprint to 2 tons per capita per year until 2050.

    t still seems to be possible to avoid the most devastating effects on our environment. However we must start acting immediately. The longer we keep on talking instead of acting, the more drastic measures are needed. However, from past experience we know that the more drastic a measure is, the less likely is its implementation!
    Global warming is not about the others, global warming is about us and our personal behaviour . Everyone must bring down his or her personal contribution .
    For whom enough is too little – nothing is ever enough”.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  32. Tom says:

    2050 I here that number often. Lets get real though do you think we will ever see 2050 at the rate the world is falling apart. With Freak storms everywhere, disappearing species Frogs, butterflies, bees, and many others. Then we have these mysterious birds falling out of the sky, and no one knows why (except i).

    Take this fine site as an example. What solution ???, again no one has one. Of course the wedges are nice and some steps as efficiency, that we see implemented are nice. Except all politician have plans for 2050. The closet figures that they must start anything is 2020. Tell you the truth 2020 is much to late.

    So we have a reduction of 2 tons as doable for 2050. Sorry but that excellent graph by
    #5 David B. Benson says:
    Here is another, older graph which suggests the cause: pub/ data/ cmb/ images/ indicators/ global-temp-and-co2-1880-2009.gif

    This graph states that 300 PPM is the most the world can sustain. So do I have to mention that we have to produce far less Co2 in order to reach 300 PPM that the Earth considers safe. .

    I guess I’ll present a workable plan for the open post this weekend.

  33. Peter M says:

    Does Upton conceptually understand that C02 is rising in 100 years what it took during the PETM 10,000 years to accomplish?

    We are yes doomed.

  34. Joan Savage says:

    I’m inclined to agree with the guess that Upton is somewhat fear-driven rather than primarily corrupted by money. He had to be asked repeatedly to get confirmation of his position. That showed avoidance, rather than an easy willingness.

    A politician’s fear like his could be pushed by a corporation’s fear. Corporate avoidance of litigation is quite possibly a driver in the political stagnation in the US on climate change legislation.

    Among the rueful experiences with CERCLA (Superfund) law is that the process of developing a case is slow. It is not unusual to have cases with decadal time lines.

    I’m not happy with raising the question, but given the exigent pace of CO2 accumulation, is it really wise to push the energy corporations into a massive holding action that buys them time?