Today, House Republicans made it clear just how antiscience they are (as if we didn’t know already): they voted down a simple amendment declaring the reality of climate change. Not that it was human-caused, or dangerous, just that it existed. Which it does.
The amendment was presented by Henry Waxman (D-CA) to the Energy and Commerce Committee. All the Democrats voted for it, all the Republicans voted against it. So there you go. As Waxman said,
This finding is so obviously correct that there should be no need to offer the amendment.
Yet, it was voted down. The Republicans also rejected a second amendment declaring that climate change is in large part due to human actions. Since that one philosophically at least depended on the Waxman amendment, it’s no surprise it was voted down as well.
Y’know, whenever I use the term denier (as in "global warming denier") I get lots of comments accusing me of using a loaded word. But it’s not: it’s precise, and given what we’re seeing in Congress, it’s the exact word to use.
And this all comes on the heels of a rousing video of Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) that sums up this whole thing extremely well. It came out last week, and it’s fantastic:
Representative Markey gave this short speech at a meeting of the Energy and Power subcommittee (part of the Energy and Commerce committee) on March 10. Here’s the transcript in all its awesomeness:
The Onion, if you’ve spent the last twenty years floating in deep space somewhere and don’t know, is a brilliant satirical newspaper. They sometimes tackle issues near and dear to me, so how could I not link to the article "Republicans Vote to Repeal Obama-Backed Bill That Would Destroy Asteroid Headed to Earth"?
The thing is, I suspect a lot of folks will think this is serious (Poe’s law, anyone?). Which, come to think of it, will say a lot about the state of partisan politics today.
Many times, when I post about political antiscience, I get some people who are very upset that I don’t point out when liberals or Democrats attack reality. While I do disagree with some or even many of the Democrats’ planks, they typically are not the ones rabidly attacking science. For the most part these days, those on the left are more supportive of science than those on the right. Stem cell research, evolution, climate change, cosmology… these are not generally targets of those on the left.
So it was with some grim amusement that two articles came up one after the other recently in my RSS feed reader: one from Chris Mooney at The Intersection, where he points out that attacks on global warming come almost exclusively from Republicans (and you can read more from Chris about this on DeSmogBlog), and the other by Josh Rosenau at Thoughts from Kansas where he frets — and rightfully (haha) so — about Eric Cantor’s gearing up to attack science en masse when Congress reconvenes.
I have a lot of worries about the new Republican majority in the House, and you can get a taste of them in an earlier blog post. Everything I’ve read and seen in the few days since I’ve posted that hasn’t exactly been reassuring, either: John Boehner just announced that when the Republicans take over, they’ll dismantle the House Select Committee on Global Warming.
Cripes. I turn my back for like a week, and all sorts of global warming denialist nonsense breaks out.
1) The interesting site lies.com has two excellent videos in what they call Profiles in Republican Courage: one is Bob Inglis (R-SC) giving a great speech about global warming and how his party is denying its existence, and another by Sherwood Boehlert (a former Congressman from New York) again chastising his party for their science denialism.
I’ll note Inglis lost the primary to Tea Party über-conservative Trey Gowdy, who doesn’t even think global warming is happening at all. Gowdy won the election and will be a Congressman. Just so’s you know.
2) At ClimateSight, a young blogger and aspiring climatologist named Kate has written an excellent summary of why ClimateGate is much ado about nothing. She apparently understands this a lot better than a lot of people in Congress. It’s a tour-de-force of how the denialists are twisting reality and making noise to suppress the truth. I’ll note I’ve been saying this since day one (and day two).
3) The good news? Climate scientists are fighting back.
4) The bad news? Representative Issa (R-CA) has promised to ignore industry malfeasance and instead use the new Republican majority subpoena power to investigate climate scientists. In other words, he’ll be aiming to keep the witch hunts around for a while. Chris Mooney at The Intersection has more on this potential abuse of Congressional power.
5) A report commissioned by my favorite guy in Congress right now, Joe Barton (R-TX) — the one who apologized to BP head Tony Hayward — and which is highly critical of climate science, turns out to have been largely plagiarized. Read More
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
I just finished watching the members of the U.S. House of Representatives debate the NASA authorization bill. The bill was passed, and I’m glad, but that was a sickening debate.
I watched the speeches live on C-SPAN. Many Representatives of both parties didn’t like parts of the bill, but felt it was important to pass it. I agree; I have reservations with it as well. However, most of this bill is just fine, and hits the right notes.
Not everyone agreed. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) strongly opposed the bill, for example (interestingly, she’s Chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee and her husband and brother-in-law are astronauts). She apparently is one of the few people still holding onto the idea that we should continue to work on the Constellation rocket system which will be defunded with this bill. I disagree with her on that quite strongly (see below).
She did make some good points, things I myself said in my earlier post. For example, the bill is too specific in what kind of rocket should succeed the Shuttle. That’s not for Congress to decide; they should make broader goals that align with what NASA wants to do, and then allow NASA engineers to make the system. Of course, there was consulting with NASA on the bill, but the bill itself shouldn’t go into details like that. Anyway, despite that, I strongly disagree with Rep. Giffords that this bill should have been voted down.
What really galled me, though, was that several Republicans blamed President Obama for NASA’s current mess, including Ralph Hall (R-TX, remember him?). This is grossly and demonstrably unfair and untrue. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) hammered over and again the idea that Obama is trying to kill the manned space program. That is not true, and in fact the current situation (including the five year gap between the Shuttle and any follow-on rocket system) started in the Bush Administration. Constellation has been in trouble for some time, behind schedule and over-budget. I’m of the opinion that Obama’s plan to defund Constellation does not kill the manned space program as Culberson said it will. I have written about this repeatedly: far from killing it, this new direction may save NASA from the mess it finds itself in right now.
Science is our best method for figuring out reality. It provides us with a method to rigorously test our ideas to find out if they are right or wrong. We can discard bad ideas, keep good ones, and that way get ever-closer to being able to understand what the Universe is actually trying to tell us.
Scientists are necessarily conservative when it comes to consensus. It takes years, decades, of testing ideas to build an agreement on what’s what. At first, many will argue against it, but eventually, as evidence piles up, the scientists will come to terms with the new idea, and use it as the default position.
When it comes to global warming, that consensus has been built. The vast majority — and I do mean vast — of climate scientists agree that the Earth is warming, and while evidence is still coming in, most of these scientists agree warming is due to human causes.
So what does it say when every single Republican candidate running for Senate this autumn is either a denier of man-made global warming or disputing facts about it we know are true?
Hey, remember Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX) who inserted a totally non sequitur amendment into a science research and education funding bill in a blatant partisan ploy to derail the bill and make Democrats look bad? And remember how the Democrats tried to compromise, removing almost $40 billion of the funding from the bill, but Republicans still stonewalled?
After the Democrats managed to pass the bill despite this, guess what the honorable Ralph Hall had to say. Go on. Guess.
After Republicans twice stalled it, the America COMPETES Act was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 262-150.
I have the history of this bill outlined in an earlier post. It failed the first time it went to vote because a Republican Congressman used some shameful politics to derail it, and the second time because to bring the Act to the House Floor for a vote, the Democratic majority had to put it in to pass with a 2/3 majority. Too many Republicans still voted against it, claiming it was too much spending.
That, to be blunt, is garbage. This Act makes sure we have enough money funding science and technology to grow our economy. Not passing it would be like eating your seed corn. As Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) says,
"It shouldn’t take three votes to pass legislation to support the research vital to long term economic growth. If half of economic growth in the last half century is attributable to technological developments and innovations, then we can’t afford to presume that U.S. leadership in innovation is a given. If we intend to lead the global economy, we must tend to our innovation infrastructure, as this bill does."