House GOP line up the usual disinformers for climate science hearing, John Christy and Roger Pielke Sr., plus a DDT-booster!

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"House GOP line up the usual disinformers for climate science hearing, John Christy and Roger Pielke Sr., plus a DDT-booster!"

Don’t miss the big House hearing Tuesday, March, 8,  10 am EST, “Climate Science and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations.”  You should be able to watch it here.  I’ll post the again link tomorrow morning.

The witness list is fascinating, so I’ll go through it in some detail:

Dr. John R. Christy
Director, Earth System Science Center
University of Alabama in Huntsville

Christy is one of the nation’s few remaining seriously credentialed disinformers who has arguably been wrong longer than any other serious disinformer and thus deserves our inattention and scorn (see “Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?” and below).  As RealClimate wrote:  “We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming , and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing “” indeed encouraging “” the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.”

Christy contributed the chapter “The Global Warming Fiasco” to a 2002 book called Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths, published by Competitive Enterprise Institute, a leading provider of disinformation on global warming that was funded by ExxonMobil.

In the Vermont case on the state’s effort to embrace California’s tailpipe GHG emissions standards, the car companies brought in Christy as an expert witness to rebut Hansen (see here). In one footnote on the sea level rise issue, the judge noted, “it appears that the bulk of scientific opinion opposes Christy’s position.”

Dr. Christopher Field
Director, Department of Global Ecology
Carnegie Institution of Washington
Stanford, CA

Field is the Working Group II Co-Chair for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  I interviewed him here:  “Videos: How we know humans are changing the climate and Why climate change is a clear and present danger“).

Dr. Knute Nadelhoffer
Director, University of Michigan Biological Station
University of Michigan

Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr.
Senior Research Scientist,
Cooperative Institute for Research in
Environmental Sciences
University of Colorado at Boulder

RealClimate eviscerated Pielke, Sr. in an important post, “More bubkes.”  I discussed it at length here “Roger Pielke Sr. also doesn’t understand the science of global warming “” or just chooses to willfully misrepresent it.”  Pielke Sr. loves to cherry-pick climate data over short time spans to make misleading scientific claims about climate.  Climate, of course, is about long-term trends.

Pielke actually wrote in 2009 that the scientific observation that Arctic sea reduction is “progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” is NOT TRUE because of data “since 2008.”  One year.  Not kidding (and that was just sea ice extent, not volume, which looks to have kept declining).

Pielke Sr. continues to take very short term snapshots of just a piece of the global ocean warming data to argue (his emphasis), “upper ocean heat, in terms of its annual average, did not accumulate during the period ~2004 through 2009. This means that global warming halted on this time period. There is no other way to spin this data.”

Skeptical Science eviscerates his disinformation here:  “Pielke Sr and scientific equivocation.”  For the record, the key chart is

Time series of global mean heat storage (0-2000m).

SkS concludes, “Scientists like Pielke have a responsibility not to put dangerous myths into the hands of those whose interests are very different from that of the majority.”  Sadly, he’s almost certainly going to do just that in his testimony.

Dr. Richard Somerville
Distinguished Professor Emeritus,
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Somerville is a great scientist and communicator who is well-known to CP readers (see Richard Somerville editorial: How much should the public know about climate science? and  Terrific ABC News story: “Raging Waters In Australia and Brazil Product of Global Warming”).

Dr. Francis W. Zwiers
Director, Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium
University of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia

Zwiers is co-author of one of the seminal Nature papers that join a growing body of evidence that human emissions fuel extreme weather, flooding that harm humans and the environment.  His paper concluded ““human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events” over much of the NH,” which is either obvious or extremely likely.  Take your pick!

Dr. Donald Roberts
Professor Emeritus,
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Bethesda, MD

NOT the usual suspect.  Roberts is not there to talk about climate science, but to push myths about how great DDT is.  He actually wrote a book on DDT titled, The Excellent Powder.  His 2007 NYT op-ed is here.  Presumably the GOP want him to argue that environmentalists going back to Rachel Carson have said things were bad for us that were actually good for us.

The problem is, DDT almost certainly does harm human — but it is also true that it may have value in addressing malaria in places where there isn’t DDT resistance.  Roberts, however, pushes the phrasing that you often heard from the old pro-tobacco scientists, “Scientific scrutiny has failed to find conclusive evidence that DDT causes cancer or other health problems in humans.”

Ah, “conclusive.”  This 2003 CDC article, “Nonmalarial Infant Deaths and DDT Use for Malaria Control,” by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences experts.  It finds that “plausible if inconclusive studies associate DDT with more preterm births and shorter duration of lactation, which raise the possibility that DDT does indeed have such toxicity. Assuming that these associations are causal, we estimated the increase in infant deaths that might result from DDT spraying. The estimated increases are of the same order of magnitude as the decreases from effective malaria control.”

A more recent 2011 review paper, “DDT and Malaria Prevention: Addressing the Paradox,” was summarized this way:

The paper reviews recent information on human health effects of DDT exposure, and particularly epidemiological studies. It was noted that, of 22 epidemiological reviewed, 12 showed significant relationships between exposure to DDT (or its metabolite DDE) with conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, blood hormone levels, birth mass, a type of pancreatic cancer, and fertility. The authors also concluded that exposures are often high in areas where DDT is applied in dwellings, and breast milk levels often exceed tolerable daily intakes recommended by agencies such as WHO.

However, at the same time, the authors noted that malaria control measures, which include the use of DDT, significantly improve community health. As a result, an outright ban on DDT in tropical regions at this time would have greater negative consequences than continuing to use it.

So reducing DDT exposure to Americans looks to have been a very, very good idea for public health.

The smear against Carson repeated endlessly by the right-wing, that she somehow caused millions of malaria deaths, has been widely debunked, see Deltoid (Tim Lambert) here.  Lambert has a whole series on DDT here.  In one piece, “Reaction to Tierney’s bad science,” he takes on Roberts:

Meanwhile, over on his blog, Tierney gets some well deserved criticism in comments. Also in comments Donald Roberts writes some stuff that is just untrue:

Carson claimed that the insecticides evolved from military research.

No, she said (correctly) that organophosphates evolved from military research. She was careful to distinguish them from DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons

DDT resistance is not a reason for not using DDT. Resistance is just not as important as Tim Lambert and others want to believe. … DDT has been used successfully in regions where mosquitoes are resistant. The basic relationship is that people are protected from indoor transmission of malaria if DDT is used. If DDT is withdrawn from control programs, people lose protections from devastating diseases, those diseases spread, and people get sick and die.

Now this was a response to my comment:

To give just one example: in Sri Lanka in the 1970s there were hundreds of thousands of cases of malaria because the mosquitoes had evolved resistance to DDT and DDT spraying no longer worked to control malaria. This is something that Rachel Carson warned about in “Silent Spring”. If they had taken her advice sooner and banned the agricultural use of DDT in Sri Lanka in the 60s, many lives might have been saved.

You can read the history of what happened in Sri Lanka here and judge for yourself whether Roberts is correct when he claims that DDT still prevents malaria when the mosquitoes are resistant. The fact is that Sri Lanka was only able to control the malaria epidemic by withdrawing DDT from the control program and replacing it with malathion. According to Roberts, this should have increased malaria rates, but it didn’t — malaria rates went down.

So, again, it was a good idea to reduce Americans’ DDT exposure — and the picture in developing countries is more complicated, but the way it has been portrayed by folks like Roberts is not scientifically nor medically accurate.  See also, “No, DDT is not the easy answer to malaria.”

The GOP could certainly have found a superior witness, someone who could mislead directly on climate science, rather than DDT.

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18 Responses to House GOP line up the usual disinformers for climate science hearing, John Christy and Roger Pielke Sr., plus a DDT-booster!

  1. climate undergrad says:

    So –

    Christy, Pielke Sr, and Roberts on team anti-science? At least they’re nice and lined up….

    I’d love to see a quick snapshot on this ‘crack team’ compared to the ‘good guys’ (awards/work history/errors/delusions/etc)

    What’s Nadelhoffers deal?

  2. Oath of office:

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

    Preamble to the constitution:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
    ———————————————————————-

    How is working diligently to condemn our youth to Hell and High Water promoting general welfare of our posterity? To select these outliers as purveyors of truth, rather than those held in high regard by the scientific community, is beyond stupid… it’s malpractice!

    I consider the Kochish interests domestic enemies.

  3. Gnobuddy says:

    I just found a New York Times article titled “Fact-Free Science” that is incredibly relevant to this post, as well as to a lot of the insanity currently surrounding our government’s response (or lack of response) to climate change, as well as creationism and other pseudo-science.

    Here’s a link:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/magazine/27FOB-WWLN-t.html?_r=1

    -Gnobuddy

  4. Joan Savage says:

    Yes, I’d have liked to see an epidemiologist with expertise on evaluating the role of climate change, and leave out an infomercial type bias towards DDT.

    Jonathan A. Patz, M.D., M.P.H., of University of Wisconsin (Madison) has numerous peer-reviewed papers on mosquito spread and other related climate change topics. I have no experience with him as a speaker, but his published papers look very useful.

  5. realist says:

    I’m pleasantly surprised that the Republicans didn’t include Monckton on their committee’s panel. He seems to be a favorite of their deniers, although he has no scientific knowledge or credentials.

    The Republicans are determined to have the public deny the science of global warming and support the polluters like BP, ExxonMobile, and the Kochs. I hope we can avoid reaching a “tipping point” before we have a chance to vote these people out of office.

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    It is almost 2 years ago

    The Usual Suspects
    February 22, 2009

    So how does Sen. Inhofe (R-OIL) spread his disinformation, other than his website (see “Uber-denier Inhofe misquotes Hadley, gives big wet Valentine’s kiss to Pielke — go figure!“)? This post first run in WonkRoom, “Marc Morano’s Pack Of Climate Denial Jokers,” explains. http://climateprogress.org/2009/02/22/james-inhofe-marc-morano-global-warming-denier/

  7. George Ennis says:

    It’s too bad no one will be calling any Inuit people as witnesses at these hearings. They might have a few things to say about their changing eco-system.

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/canada/greening+North+climate+change+shrinking+tundra+says+study/4387983/story.html

  8. PeterW says:

    Joe, is there any chance the Democrats on this committee will be able to challenge these charlatans? Are any of the Dems knowledgeable enough to take them on, and will they have enough time to ask the appropriate questions?

    I’m guessing the chair will try to shut down any questioning that doesn’t go his way. Pielke and his cohorts are also probably experienced enough with this sort of kangaroo court to know how to stonewall the Dems until they are out of time.

  9. Lore says:

    Watt’s stated that they were considering Willis Eschenbach to testify, but the choice ultimately went to Dr. John Christy. Talk about lack of credentials. They just continue to line up the usual suspects.

  10. Bill W says:

    At least they have Somerville, Zwiers and Field, so there will be some fact-based testimony.

  11. Mike says:

    Here is a link to the Committee members in case someone wants to see if their rep is on it:

    http://energycommerce.house.gov/about/members.shtml

  12. Steve Bloom says:

    This seems to answer the question re Nadelhoffer.

    Joe, at some point Christy’s shoddy publication record (not just on the UAH temp record) needs to result in ceasing to describe him as “seriously credentialed” (as you did above).

    BTW, just in case you don’t already know this, Christy’s chief minion Spencer recently went onto the GMI board.

  13. David B. Benson says:

    Looks like nothing changing, as usual.

  14. Leif says:

    Monty Python spoofs the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party.

    “What have the Romans done for us.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc7HmhrgTuQ

  15. Anne van der Bom says:

    @realist,

    After someone showed them the potholer54 video’s, I think it is finally sinking in what a raving lunatic this Monckton is.

  16. A face in the clouds says:

    The start of the House hearings may explain Godlike Productions’ sudden decision to yank the “New Official George Noory Sucks Thread (NOGNST).” Perhaps someone feared Noory would be eaten alive over tonight’s very timely, pro-pollution guest, and acted. If so, then it would be a pretty desperate move because it’s obvious that not even the NOGNST posters appeared to be listening much anymore, except for a couple who raised suspicions that Noory is hiring actors to call the show. Tonight’s pro-pollution guest may have been an actor too. Noory could only vouch for him by saying he was highly recommended by Alex Jones. Strange considering Noory stopped having Jones on the show after he published a fake interview of President Obama by none other than Charlie Sheen for heaven’s sake.*
    All in all it is weirdly good news. Big polluters long looked to Noory as a key overnight shill but it got to where he routinely turned the propaganda into a clownish train wreck. He couldn’t break a window with this stuff now. The Kochsters and other big polluters will likely have to go elsewhere to get their overnight propaganda into the next day’s discussion.

    *Sic. Really. Sic.

  17. Chris F. says:

    The ridiculous fixation with DDT restrictions “killing little black babies in Africa” is really galling, and it has a much more sinister history than you might expect. This was inadvertently uncovered by the epidemiologists at UC San Francisco involved in suing tobacco companies. They created an online database of internal documents from RJR, Phillip Morris and the like here:

    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/

    Go there and search for ‘DDT’ or ‘climate change’ or many other environmental and public health issues facing us. Surprise!!! There are numerous hits, some of them outrageous memos from guys at Cato, AEI, Heritage and the usual suspects. Why? They were hitting Big Tobacco up for money to fund their propaganda campaign against scientific “overreaction”, using DDT as an example. They view Tobacco Inc. as the first ‘victim’ the commie/scientist/greenie war against business.

    Aren’t there penalties for blatantly lying before congress?

  18. jakerman says:

    Tim Lambert of Deltoid has a new post up of Donald Robert’s misleading publications: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/03/donald_roberts_scientific_frau.php