Get Ready for More Congressional Doubt-Mongering on Climate

In the current Congress, we’ve already seen one example of an “on the one hand, on the other hand” hearing about the science of climate change, courtesy of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Now, get ready for another, courtesy of the House Science Committee. The broad strategy reflects what is sometimes called “agnotology”—the strategic sowing of doubt about science.

Let’s run through the listed roster of those testifying at Thursday’s hearing:

1. Dr. J. Scott Armstrong, Professor, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. A recent Armstrong paper on global warming is hereThe first sentence begins, “We summarize evidence showing that the global warming alarm movement has more of the character of a political movement than that of a scientific controversy…” 

2. Dr. Richard Muller, Professor, University of California, Berkley and Faculty Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. While Muller has been criticized in the past for supporting climate skeptics, more recently his Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study—which initially drew criticism and raised alarmsapparently reconfirms the basic scientific consensus that global warming is happening and caused by humans.

3. Dr. John Christy, Director, Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama in Huntsville. Christy is not a climate denier, or even a full-on “skeptic” of human caused climate change—but he is known for calling into question how serious the problem is and whether it will be a “catastrophe.”

4. Mr. Peter Glaser, Partner, Troutman Sanders, LLP. Glaser has previously testified that the Clean Air Act should be amended so that the EPA is fully blocked from using it to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

There will presumably be other witnesses as well–“minority” witnesses called by the Democratic side that represent the mainstream scientific/IPCC view–but they aren’t listed yet.

What to make of this? On the one hand, and as I’ve noted previously, House Republicans are no longer behaving as though they’re 100 percent convinced that global warming is bunk. But it is only the barest of improvements for Congress to throw up its hands and construct a “debate” over where the science lies—performing the legislative equivalent of “on the one hand, on the other hand” media coverage of global warming.

Actual press coverage of the upcoming hearing will surely do likewise. And citizens, we now know, will respond to this approach by feeling defeated, deflated, uncertain where reality lies.

This sort of thing has been going on in the US Congress for a long time—for over a decade. So in a sense, one more doubt-mongering hearing doesn’t move the cultural confusion needle much.

The real problem, for me, is that our culture’s outrage meter seems similarly calibrated.  



I love how the Armstrong paper starts out with “We summarize evidence showing that the global warming alarm movement has more of the character of a political movement than that of a scientific controversy,” restates this over and over again, and yet, ends with:

“Using structured analogies, we forecast that the global warming movement, like the previous alarmist movements that we were able to identify and analyze, will continue to produce poor forecasts and harm people. Resources will be used inefficiently, and most people will be worse off than they would have been had the alarm never been raised.
We found that alarms based on unscientific forecasts are a surprisingly common social phenomenon. Alarms are used to support political movements. Dissent is punished. Expensive government interventions are frequently recommended and often implemented. Once in place they continue even when the alarming forecasts prove to be groundless, perhaps because a large sector of the economy depends on jobs created to “protect” against the predicted catastrophe.”

Now, theres *clearly* nothing alarmist about that!

here’s alarmism:
“I’d say the chances are about 50-50 that humanity will be extinct or nearly extinct within 50 years. Weapons of mass destruction, disease, I mean this global warming is scaring the living daylights out of me.” ted turner
“All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it’s here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.
Barack Obama
the definition itself?: Quote by Al Gore, former U.S. vice president, and large CO2 producer: “I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”
Quote by Jim Sibbison, environmental journalist, former public relations official for the Environmental Protection Agency: “We routinely wrote scare stories…Our press reports were more or less true…We were out to whip the public into a frenzy about the environment.”
Quote by Stephen Schneider, Stanford Univ., environmentalist: “That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”

Quote by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury: “We must support government coercion over enforcing international protocols and speed limits on motorways if we want the global economy not to collapse and millions, billions of people to die.”

a real gem!:Quote by David Suzuki, famous Canadian environmentalist: “All life on Earth is our kin. And in an act of generosity, our relatives create the four sacred elements for us.”…”We have become a force of nature…Not long ago, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, drought, forest fires, even earthquakes and volcanic explosions were accepted as “natural disasters or “acts of God.” But now, we have joined God, powerful enough to influence these events

The denial of the facts around climate change grows ever more worrying each day. When are they going to face the facts?

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