Dr. Judith Curry, a climate scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is about to join a rarefied club — Republican witnesses on climate science. During the past twenty years of Congressional hearings on global warming — by far the hottest decades on record — the Republican Party has called upon a small cadre time and again to question the scientific consensus on the threat of greenhouse pollution to the global climate.
Even though the scientific community first began warning policymakers that the exponential increase in burning fossil fuels could dangerously destabilize the planet in the 1960s, the fossil-fuel industry has successfully blocked action by creating a false atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty. A primary method is the employment of “expert” witnesses, most of whom are not climate scientists, to make false arguments against the scientific consensus.
Tomorrow at 10:30 AM, the House science committee will hold one of its last hearings under Democratic control, “A Rational Discussion of Climate Change: the Science, the Evidence, the Response.” Two of the witnesses for the Republican minority are old hands at the denier game: Dr. Patrick Michaels, who has been a Republican climate witness since 1989, and Dr. Dick Lindzen, a Republican climate witness since 1991.
The newcomer is Dr. Judith Curry, a climate scientist who specializes in hurricane dynamics, and is now a climate policy blogger and commercial hurricane forecaster. In recent years, Curry has criticized her fellow climate scientists for not engaging with ideological critics, while making increasingly unsupportable arguments about the science.
The “expert” denial of the climate threat in the halls of Congress relies on a remarkably small bullpen, called to action repeatedly — seven climate scientists with limited influence on their field and eleven others:
THE EXPERTS OF DOUBT
Roger Pielke Jr*: 5/16/07, 1/30/07 (video), 7/20/06, 3/13/02. Roger Pielke Jr. is a political scientist who studies the economic impacts of climate disasters. Pielke Jr does not dispute the existence of man-made global warming, but criticizes climate scientists and policymakers.
Willie Soon: 7/29/03. Soon is an astrophysicist.
John Christy: 2/25/09, 7/27/06 (video), 5/13/03, 5/2/01, 5/17/00, 7/10/97. Christy is a climate scientist who works on satellite temperature measurements. Christy’s testimony cites Roger Pielke Sr. and his years of work with Spencer. In legal testimony, he has admitted that global warming is manmade and that rapid, disruptive climate change is possible.
Dick Lindzen 5/2/01, 7/10/97, 1991 (Senate), 10/8/91. Lindzen is a climate scientist who studies atmospheric dynamics. Lindzen’s claims of an extremely low climate sensitivity to increases in greenhouse gases, similar to his U.S. testimony, has been rebutted.
*Roger Pielke Jr. has informed the Wonk Room that at least one of the times he testified was at the invitation of the Democrats.
The two decades that have been polluted by these experts of doubt have been by far the hottest on record, containing 18 of the 20 hottest years on record. The past decade is similarly the hottest on record, with 9 of the 10 hottest years on record. As predicted, storms, droughts, wildfires, and floods have been growing more extreme, ice from the Alps to the Arctic has melted away, sea levels have been rising, while the rate of greenhouse pollution has significantly increased.
Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird tells Politico why he is holding this hearing:
We are the Committee on Science and Technology, not the Committee on Superstition and Political Pandering. This is a chance to go back and look at the basics, to start with the physics and the science of it all and work our way up.