Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), with some of the climate science literature.
This morning, top representatives of the scientific community tried in vain to reach fossil-fueled Republicans with the facts about the threat of global warming. In a hearing convened by the energy committee’s subcommittee on energy and power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), climate scientists clearly explained how years of research involving thousands of scientists in dozens of fields of expertise have come to the ineluctable conclusion that fossil-fuel pollution is threatening humanity.
Dr. Christopher Field, the co-chair of IPCC Working Group 2, detailed how observed increases in temperature and changes in climate have already begun to decrease crop yields, with much worse to come as temperatures rise. Dr. Richard Somerville, an IPCC coordinating lead author, explained that “urgent action is needed if global warming is to be limited to moderate levels.” Dr. Knute Nadelhoffer, director of the University of Michigan Biological Station, described the disturbing changes to the Great Lakes and Arctic regions that are happening now. Dr. Francis Zwiers, another IPCC coordinating lead author, explained that it is very likely that human influence has doubled risks in extreme flooding events.
The response from the majority party was an embarrassment to the institution of Congress and to the American people. As if the hearing were a drinking game of debunked global warming myths, the Republicans on the committee uniformly pretended they were wading into some grand scientific debate, whose proponents just wanted to take America’s energy away. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) took a brave stand against the secret plot to ban nitrogen. Whitfield cited the canards of the Minoan warming period, the Medieval warming period, and growing Antarctic ice. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) competed with Whitfield, spinning tales of Vikings, global warming on Mars, and global cooling.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) baldly asserted, “There is dispute whether man is the cause of global warming.” However, not even the conservative climate scientists the Republicans called — Dr. John Christy and Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. — dispute human influence on global warming. Their testimony consisted of misrepresenting the IPCC and making dire warnings of the economic consequences of reducing the United States’ dependence on coal and oil.
At the end of the hearing, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) gave Whitfield a chance to go back from the precipice of science denial. He asked Whitfield to delay consideration of the Upton-Inhofe bill to overturn the EPA climate rules, including the scientific finding that global warming pollution is a threat to public health. Whitfield rejected Waxman’s offer, saying that his subcommittee will markup the science-prevention act on Thursday.