Monday, April 27, 2015

conservatard chair of the house committee on science, space, and technology is a denialist...,

desdimonadespair |  The Wall Street Journal continues its long tradition of printing editorials that reject the findings of climate science. On Earth Day 2015, we were treated to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, rolling out some old denialist chestnuts, to criticize proposed U.S. policy changes for reducing carbon emissions and adapting to global warming (“The Climate-Change Religion”). It’s a rote exercise that lists the usual talking points. Normally, Des wouldn’t bother to rebut a boilerplate antiscience editorial in The Wall Street Journal, but because this is coming from the chairman of the House Committee on Science, something must be said. 

Canard 1: Climate science is a religion

Rep. Smith writes:
At least the United Nations’ then-top climate scientist, Rajendra Pachauri, acknowledged—however inadvertently—the faith-based nature of climate-change rhetoric when he resigned amid scandal in February. In a farewell letter, he said that “the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.”
When antiscience forces go after a scientific discipline, they frequently accuse it of being a “religion”, meaning that its adherents cling irrationally to facts that aren’t in evidence. These same critics often argue from a religious viewpoint themselves, and people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks, but they persist.
Rep. Smith’s swipe at former IPCC chair, Rajendra Pachauri, is meant to sew suspicion about the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He fails to mention that Pachauri resigned after an accusation of sexual harassment, not because of any institutional corruption.

Canard 2: Climate science is bad science

Rep. Smith concludes: “Instead of letting political ideology or climate “religion” guide government policy, we should focus on good science.”
On this, we’re in complete agreement. But the chairman of the science committee expectorates the same zombie arguments that shamble about in the blogosphere year after year, for example:

Canard 3: No warming in the last N years

“Climate alarmists have failed to explain the lack of global warming over the past 15 years.”
This claim is wrong in a couple of ways, and even though it’s repeatedly pointed out to denialists why it’s wrong, they keep trotting it out. This simple graph by Tamino puts the claim to rest.

Canard 4: The U.N. is cooking the data

Next, Rep. Smith goes after a favorite Republican target: the United Nations.
The U.N. process is designed to generate alarmist results. Many people don’t realize that the most-publicized documents of the U.N. reports are not written by scientists. In fact, the scientists who work on the underlying science are forced to step aside to allow partisan political representatives to develop the “Summary for Policy Makers.” It is scrubbed to minimize any suggestion of scientific uncertainty and is publicized before the actual science is released. The Summary for Policy Makers is designed to give newspapers and headline writers around the world only one side of the debate.
The reality is rather different. If you need evidence that the IPCC is not, in fact, a liberal conspiracy, see “Transparency of the IPCC process”, “IPCC errors: facts and spin” and “The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)”.

Meanwhile, Rep. Smith is busy deploying his committee to gather testimony from contrarians like Judith Curry, while excluding mainstream scientists. Essentially, he commits the same crimes against science that he accuses IPCC of committing.

Canard 5: Even the U.N. says it can’t prove global warming

Rep. Smith goes on to quote an IPCC report:
In its 2012 Special Report on Extreme Events, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there is “high agreement” among leading experts that long-term trends in weather disasters are not attributable to human-caused climate change.
Setting aside the question of why he would appeal to a document from the very organization he’s trying to convince us is corrupt, it’s hard to know which part of the report he’s referring to.