A very interesting exchange kicked off today’s House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on the Obama administration’s plan to fight climate change, between Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and White House Science Adviser John Holdren. In it, the Congressman not only sealed himself in the books as a climate denier, but also admitted that he doesn’t accept the scientific literature on climate change because the scientists who write it need global warming to exist in order to get paid.
Bucshon, who is also a physician, began his testimony by questioning the entire premise of the administration’s Climate Action Plan, the centerpiece of which is a proposed regulation to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. To do this, Bucshon combined two oft-debunked arguments: That the global temperature has not changed in nearly two decades, and that “the climate is always changing.”
Bucshon: “Over the last few years, we’ve gone from global warming to climate change since the temperature hasn’t changed in many, many years. The temperature or the earth has been changing for centuries. I fully believe that the temperature is changing. But of course now supporters of this new regulation are saying ‘Well, it’s changing now at an unusual pace compared to the past, because now the American public is getting it that the temperature of the earth has been changing for centuries.”
Of course, the “climate is always” changing argument is a non sequitur. No scientist disputes that the climate has “been changing for centuries.” The issue at hand, however, is that excessive greenhouse gases force the climate to change faster and differently than it would without them.
In addition, the argument that there has been no temperature change for the last 17 years as evidenced by a supposed lack of increase in global average surface temperature is also a myth, as nearly all of the increased heat from carbon emissions is getting absorbed into the ocean, not into the atmosphere. So the ocean is rapidly heating, acidifying, and impacting the weather. What’s more, scientists believe global surface temperatures are set to rise rapidly in the face of those increasingly warm and acidic oceans.
But the real treat of Bucshon’s testimony was not his climate denial, rather it was his assertion that he doesn’t believe any of the peer-reviewed literature put forth by climate scientists. The admission came after Bucshon asked whether it was true that the EPA’s regulations for coal plants would have no impact on reducing global temperatures.
Bucshon: Is it true that this rule has no effect on the global temperature change?
Holdren: Can I take that? I’d like to respond to that.
Bucshon: There’s public comment out there that that question has been asked and answered saying no.
Holdren: You should look at the scientific literature [interrupted] rather than the public comments …
Bucshon: Of all the climatologists whose careers depends on the climate changing to keep themselves publishing articles? Yes, I could read that, but I don’t believe it.
Putting aside the immense credibility of climate science itself, the idea that an entire group of scientists would perpetuate the existence of something for their own financial benefit is astounding, and speaks to the immense disrespect that Bucshon and many of his conservative brethren have for mainstream science. If you need proof of that, just look at the disrespect that the House’s own science committee has for climatologists: 17 out of 22 Republican members — or 77 percent — deny that climate change is occurring or that humans are the cause, despite overwhelming support from the scientific community that says otherwise.
A previous version of the article incorrectly referred to Rep. Bucshon as a freshman Congressman. He is in his second term.