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.
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.