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GOP Senators Parrot Anti-Science Talking Points At Climate Hearing

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"GOP Senators Parrot Anti-Science Talking Points At Climate Hearing"

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All of the Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee question the science behind climate change. Fueled by millions in donations from the fossil fuel industry, on Thursday, these Senators used the committee as a way to simply parrot the tired talking points of Koch funded organizations and industry leaders, denouncing what 97 percent of climate scientists have agreed on.

Titled “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now,” the hearing was the embodiment of the climate schizophrenia currently transfixing congress. A panelist representing the U.S. insurance industry informed Senators that the surge in weather-related catastrophes has forced billions in payouts and that climate change “increases the exposure of citizens and their property to extreme weather risk.” The GOP, on the other hand, outlined what they believe is a White House conspiracy designed to mislead the public on the threat of climate change.

Dr. Heidi Cullen, the chief Climatologist for Climate Central, warned of the hazards of ignoring climate change, reiterating that it’s “very clear global warming has not stopped.” But almost every Republican on the committee repeated the same talking point — that recent data somehow proves that climate change stopped 15 years ago. Here’s a breakdown some of the GOP talking points, followed by what the science actually says:

  • “Over the past 15 years, temperatures have been flat while greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar.” — Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)

There were more national temperature records broken in the first decade of the 21st century than in any previous decade, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization. The report also found that warming has sped up over the past 40 years and that nine of the 10 years between 2001 and 2010 were among the warmest 10 since “modern measurements” began in 1850. Dr. Cullen also pointed out during the hearing that heat is being transferred into other components of our climate system, such as the deep ocean, which has been dramatically warming over the past 15 years.

  • “Climate change is happening. It’s always happening. And there are many significant influences that are making it happen….major influences on climate include solar activity, solar cycles, ocean currents, cosmic rays, and greenhouse gases that occur naturally as well as those emitted from many countries including those who have no plans on regulatory change like China, India and Russia.” — Senator David Vitter (R-LA)

Many climate science deniers try to say that climate change is just a natural part of Earth’s history — that the climate is always changing and therefore there is no reason to worry. What they fail to point out is that greenhouse gas emissions have been dramatically increasing since the industrial revolution, when humans began burning the fossil fuels that heat up the atmosphere. The temperature is changing 50 times faster than it did prior to the industrial revolution and we are headed for 7 to 11°F warming this century on our current emissions path — increasing the rate of change 5-fold yet again.

  • Many senators expressed their concerns that climate change is not causing extreme weather patterns, including Senator Inhofe (R-OK), who said claiming global warming is causing extreme weather is just “wrong.”

Asking whether an event is caused by climate change is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer than it used to be. As Climate Progress has said before, extreme weather is more like a baseball player on steroids. These players do not always hit home runs, but on average they get more, and more powerful, hits. Climatologist Kevin Trenberth put it best, the “answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.” The United States has experienced an onslaught of extreme weather in the past few years with over 25 events that caused at least $1 billion in damage beginning in 2011. Combined, these storms cost our country $188 billion and took the lives of over 1,100 Americans. Most of these storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires are fueled by climate change.

While Senator Wicker (R-MS) asked for tolerance in the public discourse regarding the many scientific viewpoints on climate change, Chairman Boxer (D-CA) reminded the panel that only 2 percent of scientists support his views, and that there seems to be “endless money” funding the interests of the fossil fuel industry. Boxer went on to point out that even the panelists that were asked to appear at the hearing by the GOP were from companies that have received funding Big Oil in the past, including donations from the Koch brothers.

Responding to Senator Inhofe’s claims, Boxer lamented, “I don’t know what it will take to convince you, and the rest of the deniers, of what is going on outside the window.”

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42 Responses to GOP Senators Parrot Anti-Science Talking Points At Climate Hearing

  1. JohnyOnTheSpot says:

    The good news, is that these climate deniers (or my favorite, members of the flat earth society) will soon not be able to ignore the elephant in the room.

    The bad news is that we could cause irreversible damage to our planet in the mean time.

    Side note, anyone want to just smack Inhofe upside his head?

  2. I love the request for “tolerance in the public discourse regarding the many scientific viewpoints on climate change”. Why should we tolerate false statements by public figures intended to confuse the issue and delay meaningful action?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The intolerant demanding tolerance for the intolerable. The chutzpah doesn’t get much more dire.

  3. The video is worth watching. Long, but considering the impact, it is shocking the limited time that Congress decided to give this issue.

    And I would not call them anti-science – rather it was promoting the political power of carbon fuel industries – the tactic may be anti-science confusion – the but the motives seemed purely business. Actions of political sluts.

    • Lisa Boucher says:

      A telling exchange occurred halfway through the hearing (see 1:58:43) when Chairwoman Boxer became exasperated by the continual denier chaff being inserted into the record.  Immediately after she inserted NOAA’s Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters, Senator Wicker (R-MS) moved to insert something to offset the information.

      Boxer: “Whatever you want to put in the record.  We will put in any document.  We will leave the record open until tomorrow 10:00 A.M.  Put in anything you want.”

      Wicker (chewing up more time): “I just wanted to make sure that …”

      Boxer: “Just put in aaaanything you want — Alice in Wonderland … anything you want.”

  4. Brian Smith says:

    My comments yesterday after watching the whole thing,

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/07/20/2332481/open-thread-plus-cartoon-2/#comment-1001011

    See also: Elliot Negin’s excellent Huff Post follow-up piece,

    “Koch-Funded Climate Contrarians Make Mischief on Capitol Hill”:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elliott-negin/koch-funded-climate-contr_b_3620727.html

  5. fj says:

    Coal and oil are not cheap energy

    Watch Sen. Bernie Sanders Demolish GOP Global Warming Deniers In 5 Minutes http://t.co/4V51oCMb7u — ClimateState (@climatestate)

  6. fj says:

    There must be no tolerance for these individuals.

    The horrific scale of direct violence against humanity they are effectively causing and will cause in future decades is without precedent many times over.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      We must, absolutely must, prepare draft laws for crimes against humanity through climate destabilisation denial, and send copies to the worst offenders, to ‘concentrate their minds’. Why the human beings seem mesmerised by these creatures, as if intimidated by their malignancy, really mystifies me. We must take this life or death fight up to them.

      • Brian Smith says:

        You are possibly the wordsmith for this. But crimes against all life on earth is the larger set that includes those against human well being. Somewhere in there, the crime of ruining the planet for unborn generations..

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Of course there have not yet been crimes of omnicide, but these creatures might yet achieve that status. Moreover, in the event of near term extinction, a hideous but now plainly possible if not probable reality, judgment and justice will be pointless. No posterity to impress or instruct, no divine order to maintain, no deity to please (just where has He gone?), just ‘deserts of vast eternity’. And, before the end, a terrible explosion of rage. Our species does rage very effectively and enthusiastically.

          • Solar Jim says:

            This may not be the case when, for the first time for hominids, oxygen levels decrease due to dying forest and phytoplankton ecosystems (sources of most atmospheric oxygen).

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Solar, have you ever seen a demented person in the added throes of hypoxia? It ain’t pretty. In fact, come to think of it, an insidious and pervasive global hypoxia may explain the Right’s current planetary dominance.

          • Vangel says:

            Are some of these comments ironic, sarcastic, or meant to be taken seriously? At times the web can be cruel as some people write the strangest things that a rational person cannot believe are serious only to find that they the authors intended them to be seen that way.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Vangel, my dear chap, I never joke. Laughter is insidious and saps one’s vital bodily essences.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    Meanwhile in Siberia

    The temperatures on parts of Kara Sea and surrounding coast has hit +40C, or over +100F. Temperature legend map by Foreca. Large rises of methane has been measured from the region. https://www.facebook.com/ClimateState/posts/466599550102966

    • Jack Burton says:

      This Siberian heat wave seems to be associated with a rise in measured methane releases in the region. I live in a cold climate area, if summer brings 100 degree heat, this will force melting of permafrost and release methane.
      I think, but could be totally wrong, that the world has flipped into a new climate state. All we have seen the last couple years is the first visible signs of that real flip. The arctic sea ice can not melt without throwing the northern hemisphere into a new climate state. The Jet Stream is now a totally different animal than it was a decade ago.
      The deniers look like proper fools, but this has only made them up their game of media lies. Climate change is off the media agenda for the most part, just as climate flips to a new state. Count the years now as to how much longer denier’s money can buy media silence. As for now, fossil fuel can still purchase the entire media lie machine.

  8. Brian Smith says:

    This Republican doubling down on outright lies about the science is becoming more transparent, but too slowly for a reliable effect on congressional 2014 elections that could easily lock us in to more years of obstruction.

    Climate progress now hangs precariously on whether the two biggest, most persistent obstacles can be overcome.

    One, the validity of the science, the realities of the backed-in consequences and the urgency to act have to be resolved DECISIVELY in the media and the public mind. We might wait for the current haphazard social & political processes to balance with reality, good luck with that, or we might consider stronger, knot-cutting moves such as climate scientists addressing the nation.

    And two, climate deniers, Republican or Democrat, have to get voted out in 2014. The League of Conservation Voters & the League of Women Voters are leading on this and every climate action campaign should partner with them.

  9. Dirk Maas says:

    This may be naive, but what motivates Inhofe et al?
    - Is it money and self-interest? They can’t be that shallow — they have children and grandchildren don’t they?
    - Is it a belief that the scientific community is wrong or the predictions are overblown? How can their confidence be so misplaced?
    - Do they think that the solution will be worse than the problem? How can their priorities be so messed up?
    - Do they just enjoy being contrarian? Again, how could their priorities be so wrong?

    • Brian Smith says:

      They actually really are that shallow.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Could you both please read the link posted by Prokaryotes on the Zimbardo experiment, towards the end of the weekend open thread. I know it is easy to blame the individuals but easy does not mean correct, ME

        • Brian Smith says:

          ME, I’ve read the Zimbardo article and am unclear on the connection with the prisoners & guards or results of the experiment. I think Infofe is a shallow man, a self-serving & ignorant shill for his industry and an arrogant toad. What am I not talkng into account?

        • Brian Smith says:

          ME, I had missed your comment over there. Are you saying nobody can be personally held to account for their betrayals of others because everybody is equally caught up in a structure they don’t control?

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            No Brian. I am saying that what Zimbardo, and our own work on changing the design principle of organizational structures, shows is that people change their behaviour according to the circumstances in which they are embedded, i.e. it is not just a matter of individual choice or personality but more complex. People can refuse to go along with the system and some do, but then they may suffer terribly as they are ostracized or become anxious as they feel isolated from the majority (Asch, 1952). There are only two possible solutions: shift the offenders from their ‘panorama of social ties’ to a group with a different structure and behaviours, or change the structure of the situation in which they are all immersed, ME

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            Brian, further thoughts. It is tough being a social or group animal when you are a human who is aware of their awareness. The history of science shows that those who buck the system, commit heresy and stick to their ideas are pretty few and far between, and the price is high. The theory that there are purely autonomous human beings, totally responsible for their actions is a bastardization of reality and everything we know, ME

        • Brian Smith says:

          Flash: US 7th fleet bombs Great Barrier Reef!

          Just heard on NPR. The planes returning to a carrier on training mission, low on fuel, felt they needed to dump the unarmed bombs. Gee, I wonder if they could have dumped them somewhere else…

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            Yeah, bad spot but would it have mattered where? It’s training for what? Another manufactured crisis? Think about the ‘big picture’ and wonder why the USA has ‘pivoted’ to Asia-Pacific when we are facing the great disruption, ME

        • Brian Smith says:

          ME, with respect, I’m having a hard time applying these notions to someone like Inhofe where I am sure the man knows what he is doing. There is no way to intervene to cause him to “shift” into some other ‘panorama of social ties’. He likes it where he is and would scoff at the idea of abandoning his group for a more ethical one. After all, he has God on his side.

          If the “only” other possible solution is to change the structure in which he is immersed – well that would be, and will be, difficult without addressing the fact that he and other ruthlessly self-interested individuals are directly responsible for creating the “situation” we are all immersed in and are proudly devoted to maintaining it. (And without challenge, they will succeed!)

          I’m OK with calling out him and his ilk for what they are, low level bigots endangering everyone – and not worry too much that they will “suffer terribly as they are ostracized or become anxious as they feel isolated from the majority”. My sense of empathy does not favor the Inhofes of the world and their victims of their conceit equally.

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            I agree entirely Brian so let’s see what that means. He feels totally secure as there are so many deniers up there and besides, there is God as you say. So he feels invincible. What is required is a way to reduce the numbers of his support group until he starts to feel that anxiety that could lead to a change of heart, or mind. That’s where your strategy for climatologists addressing the public comes in. There will be only a few waverers at first so keep the pressure up. May not work with him but I’ll bet it will shake him up, ME

          • Brian Smith says:

            Thanks for clarifying ME, and I guess we’re on the same page after all. Changing the situation is what we are all trying to figure out how to do. ‘Nough said.

  10. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Not all of Oklahoma is in drought, only about two thirds of it. Still.

  11. ecointense says:

    Mr. Inhofe and Mr. Vitter aren’t only incredibly ignorant, they are addicted to the big oil money they use to buy the votes needed to keep them in power. They are nothing more than traitors to America and the world.

    • John McCormick says:

      Traitor is a legal term written into our Constitution. Google the word and public law. It is not broad enough to address the likes of Inhofe and his ilk.

      Any member of Congress can introduce any kind of bill even knowing it might never get a hearing nor voted upon. But, the sponsor(s) have the right to address it on the House or Senate floor and their floor speech is written into the Congressional Record and maybe picked up by Mother Jones, etc.

      Mulga’s comment above: “We must, absolutely must, prepare draft laws for crimes against humanity through climate destabilisation denial, and send copies to the worst offenders, to ‘concentrate their minds’. Why the human beings seem mesmerised by these creatures, as if intimidated by their malignancy, really mystifies me. We must take this life or death fight up to them.” is a challenge but we can write such a draft, debate it here and find a sponsor in the Congress.

  12. fj says:

    The pathologies of power increasingly become visible and more direct as the crisis accelerates.

  13. Endofmore says:

    don’t forget that Inhofe assured us that his god would not allow global warming or climate change
    so we have nothing to worry about

  14. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Inhofe consults His God every morning, in his Magic Mirror, while shaving. How does He know that He is God? Why, because, when He prays, He finds that He is simply talking to Himself.

  15. wili says:

    Here’s Clive Hamilton from his 2010 book “Requiem for a Species”:

    “…even with the most optimistic set of assumptions — the ending of deforestation, a halving of emissions associated with food production, global emissions peaking in 2020 and then falling by 3 per cent a year for a few decades — we have no chance of preventing emissions rising well above a number of critical tipping points that will spark uncontrollable climate change.

    The Earth’s climate would enter a chaotic era lasting thousands of years before natural processes eventually establish some sort of equilibrium.

    Whether human beings would still be a force on the planet, or even survive, is a moot point.

    One thing seems certain: there will be far fewer of us”

    Is it possible to do a kind of end-run around these road-blocking troglodytes like Inhofe and at least start to point things in something that looks at least remotely like some kind of right direction?