Remember yesterday when I pointed out the Republican Congressman Joe Barton who wants to be head of the Energy and Commerce Committee? Well, there are other Republicans vying for it. One of them is John Shimkus from Illinois. You need to understand that this Committee has a lot of overlap with the issue of global warming, as oil, gas, and coal are major contributors to the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Having said that, gird your loins to hear what Representative Shimkus had to say last year:
Did you catch the important bit there? God will decide when to end the Earth, not man. The obvious inference is that Congressman Shimkus thinks humans cannot destroy the Earth, or hurt its habitability. Terrific.
This is the same guy who tried to argue that producing less CO2 would starve plants.
The last thing this country — this world — needs, quite literally, is someone running the Energy and Commerce Committee who is this egregiously and willfully ignorant about global warming and the effects of carbon dioxide. Of course, tied for last place is Joe Barton. A third Republican, Fred Upton of Michigan, is also eying the top spot on the Committee, and I’m not sure he’s a whole lot better.
No matter what happens here, the news is either awful or worse. My only hope is that the Senate will stonewall any regressive measures made by the House… but that would mean the Democrats would have to stand up to the Republicans. We’ll just have to wait and see how that turns out.
With the elections last week, the Republicans took over the House once again. The list of things this means is long and troubling, but the most troubling to me come in the forms of two Texas far-right Republicans: Congressmen Ralph Hall and Joe Barton.
The former, you may remember, tried to scuttle a science innovation and education bill by adding a rider to it making it illegal to pay the salaries of government employees who watch porn on work computers. When the bill finally passed, he then made incredibly hypocritical statements about the Democrats in order to scapegoat them.
Yeah, so that guy? He’s set to take over the House Committee on Science and Technology. Terrific.
The latter, Joe Barton, is quite simply an embarrassment. He is most famous for apologizing to then BP President Tony Hayward for the government being mean to the oil company, after BP dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The havoc that leak unleashed is only just now coming to light. Congressman Barton also is a climate change denier, and went so far as to write a very misleading editorial in the Washington Post about it.
So yeah, of course he’s angling to be head of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Read More
The story so far:
Climate scientist Michael Mann is under constant attack by global warming denialists in the government. He writes an editorial for the Washington Post pointing out why these demagogues are wrong. Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) writes a fallacy-laden "rebuttal" in the Post misrepresenting quite a bit of what Dr. Mann has done. The Post declines Mann’s request to followup, so he sends his letter to me, which I posted here on this blog. As usual, in the comments, noise-machine hilarity ensued.
OK, so now that you’re caught up…
In his OpEd hit piece, Rep. Barton mentions a National Research Council report that he claims contradicts Mann’s climate change research. This is utter nonsense. Jerry North — the chair of the NRC committee that wrote that report — makes this clear in this OpEd he wrote in the Post:
While we did find some of the methods used in Michael E. Mann’s original papers to be less cautious than some of our members might have used, we have not found any evidence that his results were incorrect or even out of line with other works published since his original papers.
Mr. Barton’s reference to “Mr. Mann’s global warming projections” is incorrect and quite misleading. Mr. Mann’s work does not make projections about global warming. His work, and that of our committee, was concerned with the reconstruction of temperatures in the past. As stated in the report, this area of research does not attempt to make any inference about future temperatures.
Shorter version: Barton was wrong, and worse, doesn’t appear to even understand what the report he was quoting was about.
Have I mentioned that the Honorable Joe Barton is the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce? You’d think a person in a position of that much authority would know better.
Mind you, when BP executive Tony Hayward was being raked over the coals this summer — deservedly — for the Gulf oil leak, it was Representative Barton who apologized to him for the treatment.
So, I await Representative Barton’s public apology to Dr. Mann with bated breath.
Last week, climate scientist Michael Mann wrote an OpEd in the Washington Post defending himself against attacks by ideologically-driven climate change deniers.
On Tuesday, the Post ran a "rebuttal" of sorts by Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX). In it, Barton grossly mischaracterizes Dr. Mann’s research and motivations. Go ahead and take a moment to read it.
Mann sent a letter to the Post asking for a chance to defend himself against Barton’s slurs. The Post declined: if they allowed this sort of thing, it would go on forever, in a "he said/she said" war of words. I can understand that decision, but it doesn’t mean Mann has to remain quiet. I was contacted on behalf of Mann by the Union of Concerned Scientists, asking if I would run the letter from Mann that the Post declined.
Of course I would. Here it is, in its entirety:
I recently wrote an essay arguing that politicians should stop attacking scientists. Rep. Joe Barton’s response was to write a letter attacking me yet again. He continues to misrepresent my research, insult my character and spread misinformation about climate science.
Barton deeply mischaracterizes a 2006 National Academy of Sciences report on past climates. He wrongly equates the report’s conclusions regarding how to further advance the science with a criticism of my scientific conclusions. As the Post noted ("Study Confirms Past Few Decades Warmest on Record", June 2, 2006 [link]), the academy study backed up the conclusions my colleagues and I reached more than a decade ago about the unprecedented nature of modern climate change. So have more than a dozen independent studies since.
Tellingly, Barton calls my research in this area "global warming projections." But such projections use models to predict future climate changes. They have nothing at all to do with the research Barton has attacked my colleagues and me for, which use real world data to reconstruct past climate changes.
After six years of these attacks, is it possible that Barton cannot even identify the nature of our work?
Rep. Barton apologized to former BP CEO Tony Hayward after the company was required to pay for damage from the Gulf oil leak. He should apologize to me and my colleagues too, but I won’t be holding my breath.
Michael E. Mann, the author of "Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming," is a professor in the meteorology department at Penn State University and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center.
The Honorable Barton’s editorial is already getting ripped to shreds in various venues, such as on Deep Climate here, the DeSmogBlog, and here, as well as in the comments of the editorial itself. I would categorize Congressman Barton’s editorial to be dissembling at best: Mann doesn’t want to suppress questioning of scientific research. In fact, he knows, as we all do, that science thrives when it’s questioned. It’s how we learn.
But what’s going on in Congress is not an evidence-based query, it’s a politically-driven attack on science.
It’s not exactly a subtle distinction.
I’ll note that Representative Barton has the distinction of being the Congressman who received the highest amount of lobby dollars from the oil and gas industry — 1.7 million dollars over the past 20 years. As Mann mentions, you may remember Barton as the Congressman who shamefully apologized to BP executive Tony Hayward after that company dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico (and then issued a non-apology about it). He is a notorious global warming denier and exactly the sort of person Dr. Mann is warning us about in his Post editorial.
And I’ll remind you, every single one of the Republican Senate hopefuls this election season is against taking any action about climate change.
Congressman Barton, if you read this — and I certainly hope you do — I will point you to your own words in your editorial: "I think Mr. Mann is entitled to make up his own mind, but not his own truth." That is ironic indeed, given that this is precisely what you have been doing for a long, long time. The actual truth is clear: the climate is changing, the globe is warming, and all the denying, all the noise, all the letter writing you can do will not change those simple facts.
You are not fighting a political battle, you are fighting against reality itself. And if you win, we will all lose.
I know I’ve been picking on Texas a lot lately, but c’mon guys, you keep electing people like this!
Joe Barton (R-TX) is the Representative for a landlocked (i.e., non-Gulf shore) district of Texas in the U.S. Congress, and happens to be the biggest recipient in that august body of money from the oil and gas industry ($1.7 million over the past 20 years). I’m sure that had no impact at all on his wanting to make the cringe-worthingly embarrassing apology to BP exec Tony Hayward when Hayward was getting his head handed to him by every other member of Congress yesterday. Barton said the $20 billion restitution fund was a White House "shakedown" and "a tragedy of the first proportion", and then clearly apologized to Hayward for it.
It’s hard to imagine a political low-point in this entire, vast environmental disaster, but I think Barton pretty much nailed it. In the most brain-asplodey way possible.
But wait! There’s less!