By Sheril Kirshenbaum | November 11, 2010 11:21 am

Over at The Star:

U.S. Representative John Shimkus, possible future chairman of the Congressional committee that deals with energy and its attendant environmental concerns, believes that climate change should not concern us since God has already promised not to destroy the Earth.

Shimkus already serves on the committee. During a hearing in 2009, he dismissed the dangers of climate change and the warnings of the scientific community by quoting the Bible.

First, he noted God’s post-Flood promise to Noah in Genesis 8:21-22.

“The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a Flood,” Shimkus asserted. “I do believe that God’s word is infallible, unchanging, perfect.”

On Tuesday, Shimkus sent a letter to his colleagues burnishing his credentials by saying he is “uniquely qualified among a group of talented contenders to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

Representative Shimkus may be unique, but he’s certainly not uniquely qualified to lead the nation’s Energy and Commerce Committee. Climate change isn’t simply about balmier temperatures, but a changing environment. The nation–and world–need to prepare for the myriad of ways it will impact food production, water, health, national security, immigration, and so much more. Shimkus clearly fails to understand what’s at stake.


Comments (12)

  1. Duncan Brown

    You guys act like the it’s an easy decision.
    A quick search of C-span video for “Shimkus” and “climate”retrieves some passionate remarks by him about the tens of thousands of coal miners who have lost their jobs in his and other coal mining districts, in the Energy Committee debate over the House energy/climate bill. (By coincidence, the areas are the lowest income parts of the nation. They have the same problems of as the state of WVa (whose new democratic Senator got elected by shooting the climate (“cap and trade”) bill .

    To me it’s a microcosm of the national political debate over climate. Everything is being whittled down into it’s simplest terms and The distance between the politically naive climate activists like you and the UCS, NRDC, and Sierra Club and the public is tragically growing.

  2. Nooooo. What about Shiva the Destroyer?? That’s one mean dude and you can’t escape his wrath even if Yahweh gives you a free pass. Lately they have not been on cordial terms, especially since Yahweh borrowed Shiva’s favorite pet snake and never gave it back.

  3. Bobito

    If nothing else, it’s proof that injecting religious beliefs into your politics is not a good idea in this country any more. If the GOP gives this to him they will be on the road to losing there majority….

  4. Bobito

    Regadless of anything else, he certainly comes off as a loon!

  5. ChH

    Like Rep. Shimkus, I believe that God’s word is infallible, unchanging and perfect. That is why what he said really irritates me. God’s word also tells us to cultivate and keep & rule over the Earth. Many parts of the law of Moses dictate how to care for your land by allowing to lie fallow at the appropriate times & other means of not abusing it. There is a continuing theme of being a good steward of what we’ve been given – so we should take care of our environment.

    The worst case flood scenario would be a 200 foot sea level rise if all the ice melts. That would be really bad, and yet not nearly a violation of God’s promise to Noah (“never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh”) – so his point is meaningless anyway.

    Now – I am skeptical of AGW alarmism. I think it takes away from more immediate environmental concerns such as water quality & distribution… but I really don’t like Shimkus’s approach either.

  6. Duncan Brown

    I agree ChH: But you don’t have to invoke worst case scenarios. I think it is highly probable that all kinds of damage to humanity and the earth and its ecosystems are on the way, including flooding of low-lying populations (in Bangladesh and elsewhere), mass extinctions. At the same time, the climate scientists and some of there partisans (like arch exaggerator Al Gore and the IPCC at the UN) are losing the struggle to inform the people, because they have too much invested in the system.

    And also because most Americans live in fantasy worlds. of various kinds (including so-called religious ones like the anti-evolution “movement” ).

  7. ChH

    Duncan … to beat this dead horse …
    Shimkus was saying:
    – God has promised never to flood the whole earth again
    – and global warming would cause a worldwide flood
    – therefore there cannot be global warming.
    All I’m saying is this is badly reasoned because the worldwide flood God promised would never happen again would cover the whole earth and kill all land animals not in boats, whereas the very worst imaginable flood due to global warming does not nearly do that, so the floods in his two terms are not the same thing and his conclusion is invalid.

    My approach is that there may be global warming, and it might possibly be caused by humans – but neither indicates that the best way to deal with it is to attempt to stop it. Adaptation is a better path.

  8. ThomasL

    ChH –

    Didn’t you get the memo? Apparently we have lost our ability to adapt. Thus rather then moving out of the way of detrimental environmental, ecological, or even geographical changes as our species has done since time long lost to history, we will simply stay in place and drown…

    That’s why it’s so important for our government (actually, it would be better for a world government to do it, but we take what we got…) to “take control” and “fix it” – even if we barely know how a tiny fraction of it works. As everyone knows, when our omnipotent governmental bodies come into action there are never unintended consequences, I mean look at what a great job they have done the past 50 years in “managing” our economy, maintaining infrastructure and all other manner of responsible “leadership”.

    I fail to see how this bit of lunacy is any worse than this (at the 1:20 mark we get the famous Guam tipping over thought…):

    Republican or Democrat – we get what we vote for, mostly fools. Why I think Chris is a bit disingenuous with his constant rants on Republicans… Both parties are full of less then genuis members.

  9. ChH

    ThomasL … wow – amazing video of Rep. Johnson. You’re right that his lunacy is on par with Shimkus’. The difference is Shimkus is sort-of on my side of things, and it irritates me when people attempt to support “my side” with really bad reasoning.

  10. ThomasL

    ChH –

    Part of the problem with “issue” & “party” voters is it results in both the Rep. Shimkus & Rep. Johnson types. They might be absolute morons, but hey – they agree with me on that all important one issue, so damn the rest of it (as though there is only one concern that will affect me that they must deal with while they are there). Thus we end up with a majority of members who are absolutely clueless about governance as they are put there solely for “the cause” (and this country has many such “causes” to choose from). Hence special interest rule.

    The result is that we have those willing to defend moronic claims on both sides because while they may be idiots in almost every other area, they do support that pet issue of mine, so therefore we’ll just ignore the messes they are making everywhere else. I mean that’s leadership and governance, right?

    Anyone who can’t see both parties (and thus us ourselves as we are the ones doing the voting…) are equally at fault for where we find ourselves (on every level) hasn’t been paying attention (ignorance of history – and “in my lifetime” is worthless for anyone under 40), fail to understand economic and social realities (a requirement for any who wish to work successfully towards betterment of our situation, instead we get accounting games like raiding the S.S. trust fund and proclaiming we have a balanced budget as Clinton did – except we haven’t had an honestly balanced budget since the mid 1950’s), or they are simply too dimwitted themselves to realize how much all those other “unimportant” issues are going to end up affecting them.

    There is lots of talk in these threads of conspiracy theories – they would be more interesting if those throwing them out there had a clue about human behavior and maybe, just maybe, had a glimmer of an idea how corruption and such enmesh themselves into a culture. We have already traveled miles down that road.

    A few thoughts on where our society is by one who can word it better than I (in two parts):

    I’ve yet to meet one who doesn’t recognize such is indeed our situation today, and yet all we hear is the special interests telling us the biggest problem is that one issue of theirs…


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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