The Senate hearing on climate science this Wednesday, unsurprisingly enough, appears to have changed little with respect to the politics of climate change on Capitol Hill. Indeed, a significant portion of the discussion was dominated by debate over Dr. John Christy’s particular brand of denialism, a well-trod debate.
Nonetheless, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) was more than surprised when informed by Senator Barbara Boxer that roughly 98 percent of climate scientists, contra Christy, accepted that anthropogenic warming was real and serious — he was outraged:
Sessions: Madam Chairman, I am offended by that, I’m offended by that — I didn’t say anything about the scientists. I said the data shows [sic] it is not warming to the degree that a lot of people predicted, not close to that much…
Boxer: The conclusion that you’re coming to is shared by 1–2 percent of the scientists. You shouldn’t be offended by that. That’s the fact.Sessions: I don’t believe that’s correct.
Senator Sessions may want to look over this study, which surveyed the publications of 1,372 climate scientists and vindicated Senator Boxer’s view of their conclusions. For that matter, so should Senator James Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the committee who had previously dismissed the study’s findings as irrelevant to the debate on climate change. Though Sessions and Inhofe were the most outspoken Republicans at the hearing, their views are mostly shared by their colleagues on the Environment and Public Works committee.
While these denialists debated the Committee’s Democrats on the role of climate change in fueling the current devastating drought, the best available science suggested that the current troubles are some of the earliest signs of a “dust-bowlification” of the United States as a consequence of global warming.