Congress: Where The Bible Disproves Science, And A Senator Tries To Torpedo An Admiral

Earlier today at a hearing on approving the Keystone pipeline, Buzzfeed reports that Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) took a slight detour into biblical science.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m a proponent and supporter of the Keystone pipeline, so it’s somewhat redundant for me to ask too many questions. I would point out that people like me who support hydrocarbon development don’t deny that climate is changing. I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what’s causing that change without automatically being either all in that’s all because of mankind or it’s all just natural.

I think there’s a divergence of evidence. I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.

Leaving aside all theological debates over when the flood happened in the narrative of the Bible itself, there is a place for theology and there is a place for science. Apocryphal details of one do not constitute proof in the other. Current carbon dioxide levels have not been this high for the last 15 million years — it has taken millions of years for carbon to be turned into fossil fuels, and the planet’s climate was very different back then, it is true. But the planet has also not seen such an exhuming and burning of carbon in such a dedicated way in such a small period of time … and we are seeing the effects in spiking CO2 levels, increasing temperatures, growing energy in the hydrological cycle, and sea level rise.

While some Senators might discount the idea that 97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that humans are causing climate change, most people trust the experts.

Speaking of Senators, there was a hearing yesterday on the other side of the Capitol that illuminated a similar Congressional tendency to assume expertise over things best left to experts.

Yesterday Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of Pacific Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Last month, he said that changing climate “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment” in the Pacific region. During the hearing, the ranking member — who had earlier said “I can’t recall a time in my life when the world has been more dangerous” — brought up the crucial national security issue of climate change in his first question. However, this senator was the senior senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe.

What followed was an attempt to lead the witness that backfired. Senator Inhofe tried to get Admiral Locklear to take back his statement about the threat of climate change. Locklear responded that while of course North Korea and other powers were threats, he was talking about long-term threats posed by sea level rise and natural disasters. When he got to the efforts to plan for this with our allies, Inhofe realized he would not be getting his desired answer and cut him off. He then asked a completely different question about energy security, to which the Admiral replied that yes, it would be great to produce all our own energy. Inhofe may want to look beyond oil, because the U.S. has nearly 1.6 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, while consuming about 19.2 percent of the world’s total energy.

Senator Inhofe’s constituents in Oklahoma are disproportionately feeling the effects of climate change according to a recent report and eight counties in Oklahoma have been hit by ten or more weather disasters since the beginning of 2007.

Transcript and video of the exchange after the jump.

SEN. INHOFE: Admiral, as you and I have talked before, I’d like to get clarification on one statement that was, I think, misrepresented. It was in the Boston Globe, it reported that you indicated, and I’m quoting now, from the Boston Globe, “the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region is climate change.” Now I’d like to have you clarify what you meant by that because I want to follow up with a couple things here.

ADM. LOCKLEAR: As you might expect, I gave a hundred or so interviews over the last year. And during those interviews, I can assure the committee that I always start by talking about the most pressing military threats that we have: North Korea, the rise of powers in the region, transnational threats, all the things that Chairman Levin laid out in his opening remarks quite well. And in this particular case, I did the same. Then we started to talk about the long term — the long, long term, and what are the implications of it. And I’d clarify my perspective this way: in the Indo-Asia Pacific region, projections are we’re going to go from about 7 billion people in the world to about 9 or 10 by this century. And about 70 percent of them are going to live in this part of the world. And about 80 percent of them live within about 200 miles of the coast, and that trend is increasing as people move towards the economic centers which are near the ports and facilities that support globalization. …

If you go to USAID, and ask how many people died due to natural disasters from 2008-2012, it was about 280,000 people. Now they weren’t all climate change or weather-related, but a lot of them were due to that. About 800,000 people were displaced, and there was about $500 billion of lost productivity. So when I look and I think about our planning, and I think about what I have to do with allies and partners, and I look long-term, it’s important that the countries in this region build the capabilities into their infrastructure to be able to deal with the types of things–

SEN INHOFE: OK, sorry I’m going to interrupt you here, because now you’ve used up half my time, and we didn’t get right around to — is it safe to say that in the event that this — that the climate is changing — which so many of the scientists disagree with — in fact, when the Boston Globe, coming out of Massachusetts, made a statement, perhaps arguably one of the top scientists in the country, Richard Lindzen, also from Massachusetts, MIT, said that was laughable. Let me just put it this way. First of all, CRS has told us that we could be totally independent from all other countries in terms of providing our own energy if we just develop our own resources. I believe that to be true. Wouldn’t it be a more secure world and specifically in your area, if we not only were totally independent but were able to supply our allies in your jurisdiction with their energy so they don’t have to depend on other sources?

ADM. LOCKLEAR: Absolutely.

SEN. INHOFE: Yeah. OK. Let me say something about China.

19 Responses to Congress: Where The Bible Disproves Science, And A Senator Tries To Torpedo An Admiral

  1. D. R. Tucker says:

    A new anti-Keystone campaign is being lead by some unlikely groups, including the Nebraska Farmers Union. We’ll talk to its president,

    John Hansen, about why what he says is a majority of the state’s farmers are strongly opposed to the pipeline’s extension! With Roger Ebert’s passing last week the world lost a popular film critic and political pundit but few knew of his passion, and concern for the planet.

    We’ll get that story and commentary on the latest climate news from environmental journalist, Brian Merchant.

    Read more:
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

  2. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    There does seem to be a positive correlation between fundamentalist religious delusion and intractable imbecility.

  3. David F Collins says:

    A correlation, definitely. But there are too many connections. I know one brainy young lady, currently a 2nd-year med student, who is both a young-Earth creationist AND an activist against global warming.

    Of course, she is far from typical in any way. But there she is.

  4. I have often wondered just what the Pentagon and the CIA are advising Obama about the imminent breakup of the Arctic ice cap. The admiral speaks of the “long, long term.” I wonder if he is in the loop. I don’t think the Pentagon’s intelligence could be that bad that they haven’t tuned into the real possibility the the ice could be gone in less than 10 years, and that it would severely disrupt the jet stream and by extension agriculture.

  5. Merrelyn Emery says:

    From my research dealings with the medical profession I gather that not all get a good grounding in scientific method, ME

  6. BlackDragon says:

    I think the connection is between fundamentalism/extremism and unwillingness to change.

    There are some awfully smart deniers out there, but they get hung up on the idea that AGW is a massive conspiracy to make them give up some ultimately unyielding belief in Ayn Rand/The Bible/The Great Global Capitalist Goodness or whatever thing they have decided to cling to until The End.

    As someone, I think here, said once, “some deniers will deny until they burst into flames.” Couldn’t think of a more accurate way to put it!

  7. Jack Burton says:

    Sometimes it is hard to fathom the difference between pure intelligence as the ability to learn and remember things and the intellect which is such much ore complicated. She clearly has the intelligence that can learn and pass tests, that’s what Med school is really. Now intellect is a property that makes people question and seek rational answers to things. The two are not always related.
    Some of the smartest professionals I know are working with the intellect of my cat. They function at a high level in their chosen field, pass them a copy of “War and Peace” and they will use the pages to light their BBQ in the back yard as they drunk beer and talk about football and their four wheelers. Seen it many times. Highly paid professionals without a single book of note in their houses. No interest in the breakthroughs made by science every day.
    Intelligence has been proven to come in many forms and one kind does not imply another.

  8. Will the Keystone XL pipeline make it to the sea? With rising sea levels it may make it faster than planned,

  9. fj says:

    Religion is one of the major advances of intelligence amplification but it must be informed by ongoing methods of human advancement such as social change and science to maintain its viability.

  10. Millicent says:

    We should thank Barton for reminding us of the link between climate change denial and the fossil fuel industry which he so conscientiously represents.

  11. Joan Savage says:


    Inhofe appeared to go after climate change but he snagged something he may have wanted even more on behalf of his special interests, the Admiral’s compliance on energy “independence” and to “supply our allies in your jurisdiction with their energy..”

    That’s a lot of you-know-what.

  12. Barry says:

    Ryan: “Senator Inhofe’s constituents in Oklahoma are disproportionately feeling the effects of climate change according to a recent report and eight counties in Oklahoma have been hit by ten or more weather disasters since the beginning of 2007.”

    I disagree; his constituents are really the oil and coal companies.

  13. Chris Winter says:

    Inhofe: “First of all, CRS has told us that we could be totally independent from all other countries in terms of providing our own energy if we just develop our own resources. I believe that to be true.”

    When he says “resources,” he means fossil fuels. Admiral Locklear played into his hands on that point.

    Here’s his press release on the subject: “We Can Drill Our Way to Energy Security”.

    This links to the CRS report he refers to, and it has an interesting table on page 23. Table 7 shows U.S. production and consumption of oil, natural gas, and coal for 2009. Consumption exceeds production for that year, except for coal. We produced 6.8 percent more coal than we consumed.

    The report, of course, shows that we still have plenty of coal, oil, and natural gas under our soil. It says nothing, however, about costs of extraction, projected growth of consumption, or environmental effects.

    Shill, Inhofe, shill.

  14. Jack Burton says:

    Great question “Change in the weather”. I know for a fact that the CIA, Pentagon and Obama’s White House team know all about the reality of global warming and the imminent loss of the Polar Ice Cap. What goes on is secret is one thing, what they feed to the public is another.
    I have often wondered what the elites, the corporations and their politicians REALLY are saying behind closed doors. These people are too rich, too powerful and too smart to buy into any of the deniers lies. They KNOW what is coming.
    My guess is they think the USA is best placed of nations to weather the changes and to profit by them. Our vast military means we call the shots when things go bad. Our Patriot Act and anti terror laws mean the US civilian population lives now under a set of laws that allow total uncontrolled power to be exercised against them by the Federal government.
    The climate change is here and it is now. So the US Government security and intelligence organs know full well that things like “Sandy” and “Droughts” are now normal and going to worsen.
    The United Kingdom has been whip sawed by the jet stream for months now, their climate in the UK is off the rails, ask any Brit. They are not thinking about possible instabilities, they are living a wild out of control climate.

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Not all get much education in inter-personal communication, most seem to have forgotten the Hippocratic Oath and many are strangely deficient in empathy.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I don’t find many deniers ‘smart’. Cunning, unscrupulous, gifted in casuistry and sophistry, contemptuous of the truth, paranoid or preying on paranoiac’delusions, inventive-all of these. But ‘smart’, not so much.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Religion is mostly the fear of death and the detritus of ancient superstitions forcibly inculcated into children by the previous generation of victims, and castes of priestly indoctrinators. Some religious thought is of a higher order, being philosophy in all its manifestations, but it hardly ever matters these days, particularly when the crassest fundamentalism so bedevils almost all the great religions, particularly the monotheisms.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I agree with your opinion on the US elites. I do think that they see climate destabilisation working to their advantage, hence their obstructionism. They are, of course, quite insane.

  19. fj says:

    Mulga, Are you really sure you are alive?