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House climate science hearing webcast now

By Joe Romm on March 8, 2011 at 10:24 am

"House climate science hearing webcast now"

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Well, the testimony of Pielke Sr. — a complex argument delivered in lightning speed — would have been nearly unintelligible to any non-scientist.  A lesson in what not to do when you have five minutes to talk to members of Congress.

Zwiers on the other hand spelled out the link between global warming and extreme weather very well.  His written testimony is very good.  I might do a separate post on it.

Donald Roberts DDT testimony — and his effort to connect his narrow knowledge base to the broader issue — gets a #FAIL.  Debunked here.

The webcast link is here.  Background on anti-science witnesses here.

I’ll do some live blogging.  I’ll also put some of the best comments here (and elsewhere) in the body of the post.

You can watch NASA’s Gavin Schmidt live-blog here.  But you’d have to put up with Pielke Jr.’s comments.

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38 Responses to House climate science hearing webcast now

  1. 350 Now says:

    11:06 Roberts: Poverty causes asthma?????

  2. Will I be able to watch the webcast after it’s over? I’m working right now and would like to watch it later…

  3. jcwinnie says:

    If you can’t dazzle them with Feynmanship, bamboozle them willingly (or something to that political effect).

  4. 350 Now says:

    11:45 Yes, Rep. Griffith by all means…. let’s study egyptian/mesopotamia climate a thousand yrs ago and climate on Mars instead of drought and floods affecting world-wide food supply now. Great bait and switch there…

  5. Steven Leibo says:

    It certainly seems to me that these hearings are not helping the conservative/denial cause. Those that understand the climate crisis both among the politicians and the scientists seem much more effective.

  6. jcwinnie says:

    @ Steven Leibo effective? as in effecting policy? how so?

    While Washington Theater goes on with the show, John Cook (Skeptical Science) offers 4 simple recommendations.

    1) Phase out use of coal for electric power by 2030 (the Northwest US is ahead of the game)
    2) Avoid those unconventional sources of transportation fuel that is even more polluting than traditional sources (Administration’s policy on tar sands / oil shale shows how much they are in the Pollutocrats’ pockets)
    3) Be concerned with clean energy alternatives and not the state of reserves
    4) Turn deforestation into reforestation

    These are excellent, easy to understand talking points. The first 3 Don’ts really collapse to the one positive: do more clean energy

  7. Bob Lang says:

    Why are these things called Congressional Subcommittee “Hearings”.

    How can you have a “hearing” when one party is deaf.

  8. climate undergrad says:

    I wish the “scientists said it was cooling in the 70s because my textbook told me so” myth was more concretely dispelled. Also, Christy’s unsupported bias statements on economics and policy was staggering – insinuating that regulation of CO2 would turn the US economy back to either the 18th century or Africa (as though there aren’t non-emitting sources of energy.)

    On the bright side, the DDT guy seemed to be a total botch.

  9. 350 Now says:

    Somewhere Rachel Carson must be rolling over in her grave.

    http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/030811/Roberts.pdf

    Poverty? Yes, Prof Roberts testimony says/reads on page 13:
    “The whole body of asthma science points to conditions of poverty being a dominant risk factor for asthma. If we are going to seriously try and reduce asthma as a public health problem, then our first goal should be to improve our economy and, to the maximum extent possible, try to eliminate conditions of poverty. I believe we are fundamentally mistaken if we believe for one minute that greater EPA control over C02 will make the slightest difference to asthma sufferers.”

    Was Roberts’ testimony appearance today a plum for the pesticide industry? Are they losing market share to GMOs?

  10. The deniers want us to fill our homes with stuff, and ignore the leaking roof. In the end any who listen will end up with lots of wet and moldy stuff, and a not so safe home.

  11. Larry Chamblin says:

    I was aware before the hearing of the disinformation and willful misunderstanding and ignorance that characterize the Republicans on climate science. So I watched the hearing to get a better sense of how the mind of a politician-denier works. In that respect, the hearing served my purpose very well. Congressmen from Virginia, Colorado, Nebraska, and Louisiana each game me a new understanding. One memorable exchange was the question by the gentlemen from Louisiana (I believe)who asked the panel something like this: farmers in my state tell me they are more worried about higher costs for fertilizer and fuel than they are about any theoretical climate change–why hasn’t the scientific community done a better job of convincing the general public that climate change is a real risk? That question, of course, is a good one. But it is truly astounding that this congressman trusts the views of farmers–who have to focus on getting their best yield this year–over climate scientists. He said “farmers are the real environmentalists, in my view.”

  12. Alex Carlin says:

    This amazing point was made over and over: “the science NOT settled” that the climate problem is man-made. This is the battle line. The science IS settled! Its equally amazing that those at the hearing who understand this could not make it absolutely clear that YES – you ARE a FLAT EARTHER if you don’t accept this! One congressmen even said something like “the other side is calling us “flat earthers” if we don’t accept this” – YES!! This is the point we must win on, and win quickly. We need a campaign around this mantra: “THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED” – what do you climate hawks think about it?

  13. Heraclitus says:

    I only watched a few minutes of it, but long enough to remove any vestige of respect I had for Christy. As with Lindzen in the last one I simply do not understand how someone who claims to be a scientist can have such blatently incorrect, unscientific questions put to them and not correct the glaring errors in them. I cannot imagine a similar result if the situation were reversed and the genuine scientists were faced with blatent exaggerations about the threats of climate change.

  14. FS says:

    Misinformers have already won by holding this hearing, no matter what is being said: if you invite one climate change denier, you would have to invite 40 serious scientist. Otherwise you create the false impression that there is a discussion among equally strong groups of scientists.
    This is not about the arguments as #8 pointed out – one side does not want to hear them anyways. This just serves to create the wrong impression that there is a controversy.

  15. Ana says:

    climate undergrad, check out this CP post and the linked BAMS article for concrete dispelling of global climate myth.
    http://climateprogress.org/2010/11/08/the-global-cooling-myth-dies-again/

  16. Chris Winter says:

    350 Now asks: “Was Roberts’ testimony appearance today a plum for the pesticide industry? Are they losing market share to GMOs?”

    Only, I would guess, as a side effect. It goes primarily to the fact that point sources of pollution like incinerators, coal-fired power plants, and industrial producers of toxic chemicals (e.g. refineries) tend to be located in poor neighborhoods.

    So yes, poverty is a dominant risk factor for asthma — because the poor tend to cluster around sources of asthma-causing chemicals like coal ash. (I don’t mean to imply that the poor came later than the sources.) The relationship between fine-particle ash and respiratory diseases is well documented. See Jeff Goodell’s Big Coal.

    And Roberts’ testimony is an artful piece of misdirection. Promising to cure or reduce asthma by ending poverty is much like the BTI promise that technical innovations will fix global warming. All we have to do is wait…

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Well comrades, as in all things, we Austrayans are aping the worst aspects of US society. While our temporary PM, Julia Dullard, is in Washington enthusiastically ‘brown-nosing’ as we say here, the US ruling elite, with truly crass sycophancy (even joining in the China demonisation with McCain)her regime is crumbling at home. After, with trademark incompetence, introducing the idea of a carbon tax, without any details of compensation etc being announced, she has been swamped by a tsunami of media vilification and a demented fear campaign by the opposition. In fact she has created precisely the circumstances that the local Right have been slavering for-the cause that will animate the Rightwing denialist rabble into transforming itself into a full-blown Antipodean ‘Tea Party’. God knows we have a surfeit of Mad Hatters. The sheer incompetence of the Dullard regime is quite beyond belief. One would almost suspect that it has all been planned to turn out this way. Apart from going back on a promise not to introduce a carbon tax in this term of government, which has been cynically exploited by an opposition that, when in Government, broke all known records for cynical, repeated, mendacity (recollection of which has gone down the local MSM’s ‘memory-hole’)the announcement was made without any apparent preparation, opening the field for a scare campaign. But at least we now know that, for the denialist rabble, the lives of their children weigh less heavily in their calculus of good and ill, than $90 a year on their electricity bills and six cents a litre on the price of petrol, and that comes as no surprise to me, at least. If you want to see what an Austrayan Tea Party will look like, look up ABC TV’s Four Corners program, broadcast this week, and witness the deranged behaviour of the mob when the Murray Darling Basin Plan was taken to a public meeting. Aside from the foul, potty-mouthed, abuse, the yelling, leaping and gesticulating, the throwing of objects in a tantrum, you had the always pleasing sight of a Rightwing book burning. Ah, it takes me back.

  18. Dana says:

    Heraclitus #14 – I got a hold of Christy’s testimony last night and had the exact same reaction. I previously had some respect for him, as he seemed like a reasonably honest person who didn’t seem to go out of his way to misinform the public, unlike say Lindzen. But I was extremely disappointed by his testimony. A bunch of long-debunked myths that could have come straight out of the NIPCC report. Just utter garbage.

    He even claimed the lower troposphere warming trend is 0.09°C/decade when according to UAH – his own data – it’s 0.14°C/decade. That was a real “WTF?” moment for me. I lost all respect I had left for Christy last night.

    I’m probably going to write a response to his testimony for Skeptical Science. It will be easy, since almost everything he said has been debunked for years to decades.

  19. 350 Now says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Chris @17. Yes, poverty stricken folks have more difficulty with asthma for multiple reasons. But there’s been a lot of buzz in conservative rags of late about tropical malarial deaths due to “the US banning” of DDT, (which of course we can only ban within our own borders.) As an amateur observer, I thought it strange for DDT to be in back-to-back news stories again and curious of the press’s trashing of the UNEP. The question I posed earlier on another thread was re the DDT discussion at:

    http://www.american.com/archive/2011/march/un-falsehoods-cost-lives

    Someone mentioned today that a non-scientist would have been lost in parts of the testimony. True. I especially appreciated the straight forward, take no prisoners attitudes of Rep. Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA). Especially when Inslee said he was frankly ashamed with all the advances the US had made as a nation (man on moon, etc) that today they were still laboring over the same points resolved years ago by thousands of scientists. It was spot on when he compared the press’s coverage to that of a divorce trial – he said/she said and that the misinformation campaigns (of the fossil fuel industries) were of the same vein as tobacco industry lobbyists years ago. The climate choir knows this, but it’s good to have it in the Congressional record.

    Perhaps the richest point of the hearing was the Rep. from LA (Scalise?) at the close, saying he’d just returned from Mardi Gras and “brought back cake” and everyone’s invited back to eat cake. Yes, by all means, let them eat cake. The irony drizzling around the historic image of that line was thicker than the icing.

    The most memorable point for me was Rep. Inslee’s comment that behind the scientists working for cleaner, safer environmental levels of C02 were 4500 scientists -doctors, nurses, researchers – standing with them.

    I swear I got chill bumps hearing Inslee say this as it called to mind an almost identical line from the powerful film “The Girl in the Cafe.” It was when the (fictional) G8 summit’s PM and Exchequer said that they were standing behind the millions of children who would needlessly die from hunger and malnutrition… Those who have seen this film will likely recall the ending scene exactly.

  20. LP says:

    @13 Alex – Although I very much agree the science is as settled as you could ask for at this point, the fact that they’re trying to place all their calls for apathy and inaction on a platform of unsettled science is pretty absurd in it’s own right.

    Deniers can blab about uncertainties all they want but there is barely a shred of any science, let alone settled science, that shows manmade warming to be the inconsequential effect they want it to be. The only uncertainty is in how bad it’s going to get, and that uncertainty flies BOTH ways. So yes, maybe it won’t turn out as dire as some scientists think – we can’t completely erase that possibility – but everyday this scenario seems to be diminishing while evidence (i.e. real observations, not models) for it being much, MUCH WORSE continue to grow and grow.

    Uncertainty is as big a reason as any to take appropriate action.


    But this whole “debate” is absolutely NOTHING but a delay tactic. One designed to allow the consumption driven corporatists and fossil fuel oligarchs the time to extract as much wealth from their unsustainable Ponzi scheme as they can, before it’s time to finally turn tail and run. It is beyond obvious that practically the entire GOP is on board with them at this point.

    It’s disgusting how much corruption has infiltrated right wing politics. But at the same time I expect nothing less from the purveyors of the crooked status quo. What’s truly scary is all the Tea Partiers/Fox News puppets/WUWT trolls, etc who have taken up arms on their behalf.

    It says a lot about them considering how much they rally around the “uncertainty” flag as well. They clearly feel blind, blissful stupidity is their God-given right, and to hell with anyone who tries to take that away from them.

  21. MapleLeaf says:

    Dana @19,

    Please do do a post at SkepticalScience addressing Christy’s misinformation and maybe one on Pielke too.

    Christy is clearly no better than Lindzen, Michaels or even Carter for that matter. Disgusting and unforgivable gven how much is potentially on the line.

    Heraclitus @14,

    You nailed it.

    Joe I’m hoping that you will write more about the misinformation presented by the GOP reps today, as well as Roberts, Christy and Pielke. IIRC, Christy and Roberts misled Congress, surely that is actionable?!

  22. Some European says:

    Some comments on the introduction:
    - This is head-exploding, the usual stuff, so to say.
    - No wonder the Republicans win the debate: they know how to communicate. No disrespect for the Democratic speaker, but how do you expect the people to be convinced by a crippled black guy who speaks through his nose. I mean, seriously! Let’s face the hard truth: some people have good intentions but shouldn’t be allowed to speak in public.
    - Now they’re talking about China and about how America’s emissions are too small to even matter. Aarrgghh! How absurd! The whole world has been desperately waiting for the US for over a decade to finally come along and now this guy says: “why are we gonna sacrifice ourselves if no one else is willing to follow our good example?” Splatch, there goes my brain again…
    Everything is possible in denialistan. It’s the American Dream in overdrive. You can make your dreams come true. You’re free to believe and say whatever you want.
    Historically speaking we are bearing witness to the second law of thermodynamics: our civilization, which has taken painstaking work of 100 generations to build, can be destroyed in just one generation by a minority of the population of one of the world’s nations. I’m being held hostage by a bunch of Neanderthals that live an ocean away and wear suits while they play a board game with the planet.
    Help!

  23. Dana says:

    MapleLeaf #22 – sitting down to start the rebuttal to Christy right now. Look for it on Skeptical Science hopefully by this weekend. We’ll probably address Pielke’s written testimony too, but it was so devoid of substance that there’s not much to say about it!

  24. Some European says:

    More:
    -Clearly, the deniers used the tactic of filling their time with blabber, knowing that their unconditional followers would in any case believe they just nailed it, without having understood a single word.
    Especially Pielke’s testimony was very empty. You would tell from the speed at which he spoke that he has a lot to say, but really he didn’t say anything.
    -I loved it when Waxman said: “breathtakingly irresponsible”.
    -Somerville, great in general, especially: “The standard skeptical or contrarian arguments have been refuted many times over in technical papers published in the peer-reviewed scientific research literature. Nobody today should be impressed by these discredited claims.”

  25. Ed Hummel says:

    Some European #23, VERY WELL PUT!!

  26. MapleLeaf says:

    Thanks Dana…look forward to reading those.

    Hopefully Joe doe something similar.

    It blows my mind how openly disingenuous and deceitful the ‘skeptics’ are.

    SomeEuropean, I share your frustration. Unfortunately, Canada is very much part of the problem. Also, the conservative government here refuses to move or take any meaningful action until the USA does.

    The USA and Canada desperately need leadership on the climate file, but going by the power wielded by denialists like Inhofe and Harper I am not hopeful.

    What is sad is that refuting these guys is like shooting fish in a barrel– why are they so reticent to thoroughly debunk and discredit them? Dr. Romm?

  27. David Smith says:

    SE @ #23 – Boycott America.

  28. MapleLeaf says:

    David @28,

    You know, it might very well come to that, i.e., sanctions. Or levies on goods produced in countries having large C footprints. Right now Europe and N. America are simply exporting their pollution and CO2 offshore in China.

  29. jimvj says:

    Rep. Scalise claimed that he was taught in school – from a text book no less – that scientists in the 1970s agreed that the world was soon going to experience an ice age.

    He should be required to produce the text book and the school district that used it. Some reporter should follow up on this blatant lie.

  30. Lisa Boucher says:

    jimvj – I think it was actually newly-elected Rep. Morgan Griffith who spouted the nonsense about global cooling.  It was just one of the climate-denier talking points that he regurgitated in somewhat rapid-fire succession.  I couldn’t see any fossil-fueled marionette strings, but they were easy to imagine.  See the 1-hour, 40-minute mark of the Subcommittee Hearing on YouTube.

    With regard to telling lies, Griffith represents the Ninth Congressional District of Virginia, at the western edge of the state.  It is area known for mountaintop-removal coal mining – which relies on two big lies:  Blowing up the tops of 300 million-year-old mountains is wise land use, and dumping more carbon into the atmosphere is an essential component of a wise energy policy.

  31. Prokaryotes says:

    I missed this highlight from the oddities of humankind. Best of on youtube? Anyone?

  32. 350 Now says:

    Thanks, Lisa @32 for posting the youtube video link for the hearing. Yesterday my online link had audio only and it reminded me of the old saw “law is like sausage -if you like it, you shouldn’t watch it being made” so I just listened in.

    Problem is… too many folks are tuning out of Civics 101. Perhaps they are too busy with Charlie Sheen 101…

  33. Ed Darrell says:

    IIRC, Christy and Roberts misled Congress, surely that is actionable?!

    The witnesses were not asked to take an oath, as far as I can tell. Lying to Congress isn’t actionable, under rules in both the House and Senate, unless the witnesses are sworn.

    Even then it’s difficult to get a committee to act.

  34. Scrooge says:

    A new way to treat asthma is to not spend money going to a doctor.
    Or is this just a transition to a new Koch argument that ends up being we are only killing the poor who are to blame for all our problems anyway.

  35. Gord says:

    The game theory that trumps every other game this century is, in our opinion, “The Tragedy of the Commons”. Our success as a species, in our view, depends upon our ability to solve this game in a manner that will allow us to survive.

    Note than in the common solution to this game, the participants make the choice that is best for them however, this choice is the worst overall. The correct choice is the one that is not optimal for the participants individually …. everybody loses something individually … but the outcome is best for everyone.

    The propaganda around this issue is based, as far as we can tell, on FUD. Good old FUD, Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt … the Three (other) Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

    As long as FUD rules us there will be no human friendly solution to the game. We will be left with eternal suffering. But, and this is the moral issue, the people who are NOT responsible for this tragedy will be the first to suffer on a grand scale. The affluence of the rest of the world will allow them to mitigate the effects for awhile.

    But only for awhile.

  36. Dana says:

    The Skeptical Science response to Christy’s testimony is now published.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/christy-testimony.html