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On Thursday, the House is set to vote on a bill to cut the EPA's budget by 30% (including investments in green technology research and development) and strip the agency of the right to issue regulations to control greenhouse gas emissions from factories, utilities and automobiles.

Today, the House Energy and Power Subcommittee held hearings requested by the Democratic minority to once again examine the science behind climate change and why stripping the EPA of the power to regulate carbon emissions is tantamount to ignoring a potentially fatal disease, or as Henry Waxman,put it:

"If my doctor told me I had cancer, I wouldn't scour the country to find someone to tell me that I don't need to worry about it," Henry Waxman, told the hearing of the energy and commerce committee.

"Most of us don't substitute our own judgment for that of experts when it comes to medicine, nuclear engineering, building bridges or designing computer security."


Four preeminent climate scientists testified today at the hearing, and they presented all of the current evidence for man made climate change. The climate experts were as follows:

Dr. Christopher Field.

Chris Field is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, Professor of Biology and Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University, and Faculty Director of Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. The author of more than 200 scientific publications, Field’s research emphasizes impacts of climate change, from the molecular to the global scale. His work includes major field experiments on responses of California grassland to multi-factor global change, integrative studies on the global carbon cycle, and assessments of impacts of climate change on agriculture. Field’s work with models includes studies on the global distribution of carbon sources and sinks, and studies on environmental consequences of expanding biomass energy. Field has served on many national and international committees related to global ecology and climate change. He was a coordinating lead author for the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In September, 2008, he was elected co-chair of working group 2 of the IPCC, and will lead the next assessment on climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability.

Dr. Knute Nadelhoffer.

Fields of study

Ecosystem ecology, terrestrial biogeochemistry, global change

Academic background

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983. I began a postdoctoral fellowship at the Ecosystems Center of Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, Massachusetts) in 1983. I worked as a Research Scientist at the MBL until June 2002 when I left to spend a year as co-Director of the National Science Foundation's Ecosystem Studies Program. I joined the Univeristy of Michigan as Director of the Biological Station in June 2003 and as Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in September 2003. I also served as Panel Manager for the USDA Ecosystems Program in 1992 and was a Fulbright Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of Water Research (Oslo) and the Norwegian Institute of Forest Research (Aas) in 1996-97.

Dr. Richard Somerville.

Richard Somerville is Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He formally retired in 2007 but remains active in research, education and outreach. He was a Coordinating Lead Author in Working Group I for the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Richard Somerville was an organizer of the 2007 Bali Climate Declaration by Scientists. This effort by climate scientists to inject some quantitative scientific substance into the UN climate negotiations is described in The New York Times and Climate Science Watch.

Dr. Francis W. Zwiers, the
head of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium

Before becoming Director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, Dr. Zwiers served as a Research Scientist (1984-2006), Chief of the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (1997-2006) and Director of the Climate Research Division (2006-2010), all at Environment Canada. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics of the University of Victoria and in the Dept. of Statistics and Actuarial Science of Simon Fraser University. His expertise is in the application of statistical methods to the analysis of observed and simulated climate variability and change. Dr. Zwiers is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the American Meteorological Society, a recipient of the Patterson Medal, has served as an IPCC Coordinating Lead Author of the Fourth Assessment Report, and is an elected member of the IPCC Bureau.

The committee heard testimony from the four distinguished scientists and authors of numerous peer reviewed articles on climate.  They also heard testimony from three recognized climate skeptics: Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr..  Here's a snapshot of Peilke's modus operandi:

Roger Pielke Sr. has raised very strong allegations against RealClimate in a recent blog post. Since they come from a scientific colleague, we consider it worthwhile responding directly. [...][

First of all, we are surprised that Pielke levelled such strong allegations against RealClimate, since the statement above merely summarises some key findings of the Synthesis Report of the Copenhagen Climate Congress, which we discussed last month. This is a peer-reviewed document authored by 12 leading scientists and “based on the 16 plenary talks given at the Congress as well as input of over 80 chairs and co-chairs of the 58 parallel sessions held at the Congress.” If Pielke disagrees with the findings of these scientists, you’d have thought he’d take it up with them rather than aiming shrill accusations at us. But in any case let us look at the three items of alleged misinformation: [...]

The “flattening of sea level since 2006” that Pielke refers to is beside the point and deceptive for several reasons (note too that Anthony Watts has extended this even further to declare that sea level from 2006 to present is actually “flat”!). First of all, trends over such a short sub-interval of a few years vary greatly due to short-term natural variations, and one could get any result one likes by cherry-picking a suitable interval (as Pielke and Lomborg both have). The absurdity of this approach is see by picking an even more recent trend, say starting in June 2007, which gives 5.3+-2.2 mm/yr! Secondly, this short-term trend (1.6 +- 0.9 mm/yr) is not even robust across data sets – the French analysis shown above has a trend since the beginning of 2006 of 2.9 mm/year, very similar to the long-term trend. Third, the image Pielke links to shows the data without the inverted barometer correction – the brief marked peak in late 2005, which makes the visual trend (always a poor choice of statistical methodology) almost flat since then, disappears when this effect is accounted for. This means the 2005 peak was simply due to air pressure fluctuations and has nothing to do with climatic ocean volume changes. The trend from 2006 in the data with the inverse barometer adjustment is 2.1 +/- 0.8 mm/yr.

Dr. Ronald Roberts (not a climate scientist at all, but a medical doctor who promotes the value of DDT).  At the hearing he testified:

Donald Roberts argu[ed] that banning DDT was bad idea, thus climate rules [are a] bad idea. This might be a new low in climate-science testimony.

And, last but not least, Dr. John R. Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville:

Christy is one of the nation’s few remaining seriously credentialed disinformers who has arguably been wrong longer than any other serious disinformer and thus deserves our inattention and scorn (see “Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?“ and below).  As RealClimate wrote:  “We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming , and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.”

Christy contributed the chapter “The Global Warming Fiasco” to a 2002 book called Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths, published by Competitive Enterprise Institute, a leading provider of disinformation on global warming that was funded by ExxonMobil.

In the Vermont case on the state’s effort to embrace California’s tailpipe GHG emissions standards, the car companies brought in Christy as an expert witness to rebut Hansen (see here). In one footnote on the sea level rise issue, the judge noted, “it appears that the bulk of scientific opinion opposes Christy’s position.”

Here's how the Guardian summarized the debate:

The scientists came armed with the latest evidence on how climate change was raising the dangers of flooding in Europe and wildfires in the US.

Knute Nadelhoffer, a University of Michigan professor, noted that Lake Superior had already warmed by 4.5F since 1979, and that similar trends were visible in smaller lakes.

Witnesses invited by Republicans tried to compare their cause to that of famous dissenters – such as Galileo – who were eventually proved right.

But that rationale brought ridicule from Richard Somerville of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who noted that Einstein had almost immediately been accepted by his peers.

It was an attempt by the Democrats to establish the complete and utter insanity of House Republicans going through with a vote on their bill, one that will eliminate the federal government's ability to address climate change.  

The stated hope of the Democrats is to get Republicans to agree to delay a vote on the bill.  In reality, it is a desperate ploy to make the passage of the bill politically toxic for GOP members up for re-election in 2012.  I don't think the Republicans are scared:

"[The Democrats or Climate Scientists] literally just try to make somebody out to be a flat earther if they disagree in a scientific way," complained Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise.

Well I suppose the hearing was good for a few laughs if you are into gallows humor.  Too bad these ignoramuses and scofflaws are the people who control the House of Representatives.

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