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Republican-Controlled Committee Legislates That Climate Change Does Not Exist

Republican-Controlled Committee Legislates That Climate Change Does Not Exist

House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee demonstrated their commitment to science denial Wednesday by unanimously voting down three separate amendments offered by Democrats to reaffirm basic facts about climate science. They then unanimously voted to pass the Upton-Inhofe bill to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific endangerment finding on greenhouse pollution.

Let’s be clear. Congress should not attempt to make scientific decisions. The role of Congress is to take the best science and use it to make the best possible policy. The three amendments rejected unanimously by committee Republicans each lays out a fairly basic statement about generally accepted climate science.

  • Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado offered an amendment that simply reaffirmed what EPA scientists stated, that “‘the scientific evidence is compelling’ that elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from anthropogenic emissions ‘are the root cause of recently observed climate change.’” That amendment was rejected in a party-line vote with all Republicans voting no.
  • Rep. Jay Inslee of Washington state offered an amendment, again quoting the EPA, which stated “the public health of current generations is endangered and the threat to public health for both current and future generations will likely mount over time as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and result in ever greater rates of climate change.” This, too, was rejected in a party-line vote with all Republicans voting no.
  • The last amendment, offered by Rep. Henry Waxman of southern California, asserted even more unassailable scientific findings. His amendment stated simply that “Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.” It was also unanimously rejected in a party-line vote with all Republicans voting no.

This is really getting ridiculous. In countries around the world, political parties on the left and right are debating how to deal with climate change. But by continuing to debate whether the world is even warming — an objective, empirical, verifiable, scientific fact — our great nation is demonstrating to the rest of the world that we are still in the Stone Age on this issue.

Let’s keep in mind that virtually every credible climate scientist and science organization, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, has declared climate change a “settled fact.” Here is another quote from the academy which reaffirms all three of the rejected amendments:

Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities … and in many cases is already affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.

The National Academy of Sciences might be thought of like the Supreme Court for science, so what they say matters a lot. But then again, even the U.S. Supreme Court itself has decided that the EPA should have the authority to regulate carbon pollution in the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision.

Notwithstanding the advice of every U.S. science agency and the opinions of virtually every credibly international science organization, the committee voted 34-19 to pass the Upton-Inhofe dirty air bill, H.R. 910, which eliminates the ability of the federal government to regulate planet-warming carbon pollution. The Project on Climate Science summed it up nicely:

Through this antiscience legislation, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is substituting ideology for the intensive, comprehensive, peer-reviewed analysis of thousands of scientists, including the scientists at the EPA.

Comically, as Joe Romm noted yesterday, one of the committee members voting against the amendments John Shimkus (R-IL), cites the Bible as his reason for rejecting climate science. “God said the earth would not be destroyed in a flood.” Another, Michael Burgess (R-TX), cited an online public opinion poll (in and of itself an unscientific way of sampling opinion data) as reason for rejecting the science of global warming. Making matters worse, it turns out the particular poll was targeted by well-known climate science denial website Watt’s Up With That in a campaign to skew the results.

Meanwhile, a recent Gallup poll (the scientific kind with random sampling, rather than self-selecting Internet sampling) indicates more than 50 percent of the public believe global warming is happening and is mostly due to human activities. But again, opinions — even scientifically polled public opinions — don’t determine science. Just because 99.99 percent of the world public believed the sun revolved around the earth in the time of Galileo does not mean his theory of heliocentrism was wrong.

So, on the one hand we have virtually every credible government and nongovernmental science organization in the developed world reaffirming the fundamental science behind global warming is sound. On the other hand, you have an online poll that was co-opted by a well-known science denial blog. Who would you believe? Apparently the opinion poll, if you are a Republican member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“The denial of science has taken deep root on the Committee,” said Rep. Waxman (D-CA) in a recent talk he gave at the Center for American Progress. Even more troubling is the amount of money taken by Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans from major polluters with a stake in undermining the scientific consensus about climate change.

Certainly it is the duty of a congressional representative to represent constituents’ opinions. But perhaps the representative needs to draw the line where those views directly contrast with reality. We need our leaders to understand the difference between opinion and science. More importantly, we need them to look past childish debates on scientific subjects about which they have no expertise. Instead they should concentrate on how our government can work to address great challenges science gives us the power to identify.

This post was originally published by Science Progress.

 

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photo courtesy of davipt via flickr
written by Sean Pool, an Assistant Editor for Science Progress

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258 comments

+ add your own
9:54AM PDT on Mar 28, 2011

Thanks for this :)

9:54PM PDT on Mar 27, 2011

How do you repeal a "finding"? Is that like unknowing a discovery? This is amusing, considering how the conservatives are asserting climate change as they champion (lobby) the nuclear industry. Conservatives-Facts when they want them, repeals when they don't!

2:45PM PDT on Mar 27, 2011

AAAaarghhh
Well while these people hold their hands over their eyes and wailnonsensical noise to blunt their hearing we should shift our emphasis to the financial sector. Pump the scientific statistics to insurance companies to show how their losses will mount as climate degrades. Demonstrate to manufacturing how people will be unable to buy their goods as the markets start to collapse under the weight of natural disasters caused by doughts, floods and extreme temperature shifts at both ends of the scale.
While other governments have begun to enforce protections and platforms that will allow their economies to adapt to the changing world we need to step around the (srange applying this term to these people but)Luddites in the US government and go right to the people that these neo-cons and T-baggers are handing the power to.
Then we must hope they can see better than the fools that have assumed the reins of government.
Jeff
The Chicagoan

4:35PM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

Politicians will not be competent until they receive the minimum wage of their state/country, they cannot receive funding (for election campaigns, or other needs) from private sources, and the average person is thoroughly educated about our system, issues, and politicians who claim to want to help.

3:51PM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

Pollution doesn't cause climate change? Suppose you're right--so what?

It's still pollution. Excuse me for thinking of future generations, especially seeing as how I don't have children.

9:15AM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

I'm becoming increasingly embarrassed by our so-called leadership. I thought that when George W. Bush was no longer our President, we could begin to hold up our heads again as Americans...It was 1 thing to dismiss the lack of intelligence on the part of ONE (however highly placed) individual...but now we have too many politicians who have completely subverted whatever their original IQ to narrowly based beliefs & desires that are absolutely unrelated to reality. I alway used to smile about the "World is Flat" group & the tongue-in-cheek group "Man Cannot Fly"(which met at the Wright Memorial, the site of the begginning of man's foray into the skies.) But these new movements that deny & politicize science are becoming dangerous- not humorous>

4:37AM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

Funny with all of our own Petroleum resources we are exporting what we could be using .. at a tremendously reduced price ... gee whizz go figgure

4:34AM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

Hmm here's a thought for you .. During the Cheney bush regimes tyrany , the Cheny Bush appointed head of the EPA stated unequivvcly that Global warming was a Myth.. 3 days later g Dubya Stupid stood up and admitted there was a growing threat because of Global warming Due man .. now the professional deniability lying SOB's are at it again .. didnt the republican terrorist fascists refer to it as Flip Flop , that was shortly after when the truth of the Iraq urgency to Invade fiction by Dick Cheney before he dicks You , was found to be unsubstanciated lies , for which by the way he was never investigated or prosecuted for lying to congress let alone the entire planets population ... maybeits a good thing Cheney didnt offer us a blow job he would have been nailed there . as i was saying when the truth willed out any fairly honest politician recinded the vote to go to war .. they became Flip Floppers ..i am still wondering how and why republicans get away with theis pile of crap . to a republican if they dont like it , it does not exist especially if it takes funding to stop or at least try to undo it. their corpoate bosses cant afford to lose the profits .Also remember the Hudson university papers group have been by letters to every president since reagan to Invade Iraq and Iran .. looks like we are almost there , staging areas in pakistan afganistan and iraq .. all set for Iran

9:17AM PDT on Mar 24, 2011

James J
Tree’s / Forests – yes I should have clarified I was talking about the last 10,000 years of history – Obviously during previous glacial periods (B4 last 10,000 years and when the Utah salt lake was around 30,000- 10,000 years ago) the landscape was very very different, less tree’s, very arid dry regions, ice sheets , woolly mammoths, age of terrifying predators, man pretty measly but grew in numbers once the planet started warming up and we got into agriculture. Forests started flourishing and reached a peak 8000 years ago, very slowly declining since then and then rapidly vanishing this century and notably in the last 30 years (that is us). Is Global Warming, nothing to worry about regardless of what is causing it? Well given there are so many of us humans to feed I’d think that more extreme flooding/droughts and change in water distribution globally that would disrupt current agriculture patterns maybe something we’d like to plan for, perhaps slow down if we can so we can more easily make the transition; climate change causes extinctions, we just need to ensure that flora and fauna we need for our food production remains with us. For those who think we are not warming, I think we can all agree the climate is throwing us a lot of issues (look at Lloyd’s of London –insurance under writers and other insurance companies) and you’ll see that their profits are taking huge hits from these increasing number of events.

8:51AM PDT on Mar 24, 2011

James J,

Lets go back in time to the news reports on US Automotive Industry Sales and here’s what you find:

“A month of gasoline prices near $4 a gallon was enough to sour Americans' long love affair with trucks and sport utility vehicles, pushing them back into sedans -- and driving Detroit's automakers into deeper trouble.”
http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fi-gm4-2008jun04,0,1961081.story

“General Motors (NYSE: GM - News) rolled out fresh incentives on Monday in an attempt to staunch plummeting sales of gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles, pick-up trucks and other slow-selling models.”
http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto062320081700466461
Let me know if I need to dig out the evidence of lobbing against fuel efficiency from our Automakers, when obviously ROW was getting on with the job.

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