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Congressional Climate Briefing - The End of Climate Skepticism?

Posted on 19 November 2011 by dana1981

On 14 November 2011, the US Congress Natural Resources Committee held a briefing called "Undeniable Data: The Latest Research on Global Temperature and Climate Science" (video recording available here).  The briefing was held by Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), who were the architects behind the Waxman-Markey climate bill (a.k.a. the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009) previously analyzed by Skeptical Science.  It's worth remembering that the Waxman-Markey legislation was passed by the US House of Representatives, and the USA would have a carbon pricing system in place if Senate Republicans hadn't exploited the filibuster rule to prevent similar legislation from going to a vote in the Senate.

During the subsequent 2010 elections, the Democrats lost their majority control of the House of Representatives.  Since gaining control, Congressional Republicans have held one climate hearing, and mostly invited climate "skeptics" to testify.  As a result, the climate hearing resulted in a compilation of climate myths and misinformation, economic myths, and the participants seemed uninterested in learning from the proceedings.  The Republicans have since refused all Democrat requests for further climate hearings, which is why Waxman and Markey held a less formal briefing in this case. Rep. Waxman also noted that the Republican-controlled House

has voted 21 times to block actions to address climate change, including a vote to deny that "climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks for public health and welfare."

Unfortunately, the Republican anti-climate science trend continued, as no Republican congressmen attended this briefing.  Rep. Waxman also commented that while the Republicans have claimed that it's Congress' job, not the EPA's, to regulate carbon emissions, Congress has refused to do so, and that while they claim that "the science isn't settled," they refuse to hold climate hearings to learn about the science. 

The Republican justification for missing this briefing was that they are focusing “on creating jobs and promoting common-sense solutions that protect both the environment and the economy.”  However, climate change and its solutions are inextricably linked with jobs and the economy, and how are policymakers to come up with "common-sense solutions" if they remain in the dark about climate change and its impacts?  Moreover, Congressional Republicans have recently found the time to debate the reaffirmation of the national motto "In God We Trust," whether to mint a commemorative coin for Major League Baseball, and to allow Americans from states which allow concealed weapons to conceal them in states which do not allow them.  Surely devoting an hour or two to holding a climate hearing is more important than these other issues for which they have managed to find the time in their busy schedules.

The scientific experts at Monday's briefing were Dr. Richard Muller of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project; Dr. Ben Santer, an expert on climate change attribution; and Dr. Bill Chameides, vice chair of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on America's Climate Choices.  Dr. Chameides has provided a summary of the briefing here.

Dr. Muller spoke first regarding his skepticism of global warming two years ago, but the BEST project confirmed the accuracy of the surface temperature record and put his concerns to rest.  Dr. Muller distinguished between true skeptics and closed-minded deniers, and stated that those who continue to deny that global warming is happening fall into the latter category.  Dr. Muller's implication that we should only accept the reality of global warming now that his project has confirmed it for the umpteenth time rankled Dr. Chameides a bit:

He seemed to imply that all scientists should have been skeptics like him before his study, and that he's the only one to have taken skeptics' criticisms seriously and actually investigated their claims....Did those other scientists [who previously investiaged these issues] violate some sacred principle of scientific skepticism by accepting their own exhaustive studies' results without having waited for Muller to come along with his study? Certainly not.

Nevertheless, Muller's contribution adds a welcome and independent piece of evidence on global warming, evidence that has been accumulating over many decades of scientific study.

Dr. Muller expressed similar doubt about the magnitude of the human contribution to global warming (although he noted uncertainty cuts both ways, and the human contribution could be even larger than we think), and suggested that natural oceanic cycles and solar activity could be playing a larger role in global warming than climate scientists believe.  As with the temperature record two years ago, Dr. Muller is expressing "skepticism" about subjects which he has not personally researched.  However, other scientists like Dr. Santer have thoroughly researched the causes of global warming.

Dr. Chameides called Dr. Santer's presentation "a tour de force."  In it, Dr. Santer discussed the various "fingerprints" of man-made global warming, many of which we have examined at Skeptical Science.

fingerprints

Dr. Santer devoted the most time to the cooling upper atmosphere, which is an expected "fingerprint" of an increased greenhouse effect, as more heat is trapped in the lower atmosphere.  Dr. Santer discussed that warming caused by natural ocean cycles or solar activity would result in a different pattern.  Increased solar radiation reaching Earth, for example, would cause all layers of the atmosphere to warm.  Every observed "fingerprint" is consistent with what we expect from man-made global warming.

During his presentation, Dr. Chameides focused on climate change from the risk management perspective.  Dr. Chameides suggested that as with a strong financial portfolio, we should take a diversified approach to addressing climate change, including implementation of a carbon pricing system, preparing for climate adaption, investing in clean tech R&D, informing the public about climate science, and engaging in international efforts to mitigate climate change.  Dr. Chameides' main conclusion was that the prudent path forward must involve a comprehensive federal policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Crucially, despite his remaining skepticism, Dr. Muller also agreed that the remaining climate uncertainty is not sufficient to preclude us from acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The take-home message from each presentation is:

Muller: The planet is undeniably warming.  Muller is personally not convinced how much of that warming is due to humans, but believes the remaining uncertainty is not sufficient to prevent us from taking serious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Santer:  The scientific evidence clearly indicates that the observed global warming is predominantly caused by humans.

Chameides:  The prudent path forward involves a diversified risk management approach, which must involve a comprehensive federal policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Overall it was a very interesting and informative briefing.  Unfortunately, the fact that it was attended by zero Republican congressmen suggests that contrary to the hearing subtitle, it will not be the end of climate skepticism, but perhaps it at least represents a small step in the right direction.  Maybe Congressional Republicans will find some time to listen to climate scientists when they're finished classifying pizza as a vegetable.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 59:

  1. The fact that no Republican Congressmen attended this hearing is depressing, and indicative.

    What are they afraid of? It is not long since Dr Richard Muller was the "Great White Hope" of denialism.

    Here is a short clip of Muller's testimony from Huffpost - he draws a clear distinction between "scepticism" and "denialism". However, it is clear he classes Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre as "sceptics". He is in for a shock.

    He also appeared on US TV, where he admitted blogosphere reaction was "volatile", something which got a laugh.

    Richard Muller at Congress Clip

    Richard Muller on "Morning, Joe" US TV
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  2. Technically, they've not classified pizza as a vegetable, just the tomato sauce on the pizza, making the pizza itself a "vegetable dish" :)

    Congress works in mysterious and subtle ways ...

    Great summary of the hearing.
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  3. “It’s politically dangerous for prominent Republicans to acknowledge climate change is real and that human activity plays a prominent role,” he said. ”It could be that Gingrich is just trying to play a political game and stick with the political orthodoxy to keep himself from being vulnerable to attacks.” – Jim DePasso, the policy director for Republicans for Environmental Protection

    Source: “Gingrich Defends Shifting Statements on Climate Change” ABC News, Nov 18, 2011
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  4. The Nth verification that even with the uncertainties it's an issue "worth addressing". As aggravating as Muller's positioning is, the result is probably useful. AFAIK political momentum on carbon policy has been stagnant in the US, so while Muller's skepticism made little difference on that front, the well-publicised BEST results, and Muller's own take on policy have probably tipped the scales towards action.
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  5. The Natural Resources Committee website states: "The Natural Resources Committee consists of 48 Members, 27 Republicans and 21 Democrats."

    From the above article: "Unfortunately, the Republican anti-climate science trend continued, as no Republican congressmen attended this briefing."

    As far as I can tell, other than Markey, none of the Democratic members attended either. Waxman is not a member of the committee.

    Apparently there is political disinterest amongst both parties.
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  6. "No Republican attended the briefing" - predictable but very telling. It is hard to maintain your position that it isn't happening when well respected members of the scientific community are telling you it is.
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  7. Apirate - when you are teaching a unit on ocean ecosystems to your class, and the brightest kids are away at a debate camp, and the least motivated kids are out "sick" - who do you think will most likely makeup the work and achieve the learning goals you had for that lesson?
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  8. AT @ 7
    I am not sure what your point is. This article is clearly political in nature. If Republicans are ridiculed for not attending, then the Democrats should be as well.

    "Maybe Congressional Republicans will find some time to listen to climate scientists when they're finished classifying pizza as a vegetable."
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    Response:

    [DB] "If Republicans are ridiculed for not attending, then the Democrats should be as well."

    You conveniently ignore the reasons for the briefing in the first place:

    • Since gaining control, Congressional Republicans have held one climate hearing, and mostly invited climate fake-skeptics to testify
    • The Republicans have since refused all Democrat requests for further climate hearings
    • the Republican-controlled House has voted 21 times to block actions to address climate change, including a vote to deny that "climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks for public health and welfare."

    If your position is that these statements of facts are 'holding Republicans up for ridicule' then you quite plainly will be considered to be leaving the realm of "debate" and joining them in their war on climate science.

    I'm a Republican and I approved this response.

  9. apirate - most Congressional Democrats don't deny basic climate science, so there's not as much need for them to attend these sorts of briefings/hearings. Though I would certainly prefer if they would attend as well.
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  10. Would that situation in the House change after 2012 elections? How likely are DEM to regain the control?

    Given econo troubles in US, voters are very unlikely to consider AGW as their top priority. So current situation is very likely to continue for at least few years unless some strong international pressure forces REP to change their stance or another extreme event like Katrina will have them re-evaluate priorities.
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  11. IMHO American colleagues should take this issue very seriously not just regarding climate policy, but for the broader 'anti-science'/pro-lobby way Washington has evolved into operating.

    Read this article, which at first is amusing and then horrifying...

    ...we live in America, where people, who have been elected to public office, do not believe in climate science, but do believe pizza is a vegetable.


    I can't see the Dems, Reps or Teas chaining that....
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  12. Climate skeptics are alive and well on the web. Against my better judgment, I posted a rebuttal to a fella who insists that there are plenty of peer-reviewed articles against AGW. His response was: "Here is a list of references","What exactly disqualifies them as 'climate science'", and "How could I so flippantly attempt to dismiss 30 plus scientific articles many of which are peer-reviewed". The link he provided, https://docs.google.com/viewer. Cannot believe that even after the BEST results, that Congress cannot get its act together to help squelsh the myths that keep getting repeated daily on the web.
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  13. It seems apposite to recall how pre-emptive was the film Erik the Viking, with respect to Republican (and Australian Federal Coalition) attitudes to climate science.
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  14. Bernard J. #13, not sure that this will work, but here goes:

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    Moderator Response: [Sph] Width/height adjusted to fit in 450 (640, 360 changed to 450, 253).
  15. “Once again, people want something for nothing.

    “According to a poll by The Economist, 79% of respondents say that they who would support political reforms combating climate change if those changes had no effect on their real income. But the number completely collapses when you ask if they have to take a 5% reduction in income through higher taxation in order to achieve that. When some sort of carbon tax is introduced to reduce carbon emissions, support for climate change policies goes from the vast majority saying yes, to the vast majority saying no. Only 26% say they would support reform if it led to a decline in their real income of more than 5%.

    “The online poll was taken by participants at The Economist’s online Global Energy Conversation conference. The virtual event took place in London, Washington and São Paulo on Friday.”

    Source: “Climate Change Policies OK, So Long As It's Tax Free, Poll Says” Forbes, Nov 18, 2011

    To access the entire article, click here
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  16. The Republican justification for missing this briefing was that they are focusing “on creating jobs and promoting common-sense solutions that protect both the environment and the economy.”

    It'd take another blog the size of this one to present the multiple lines of evidence demonstrating that the exact opposite is true.
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  17. 16, Phila

    ...promoting common-sense solutions...


    A useful definition...

    Common Sense (n.):

    1) Not well thought out. Based on over-simplified logic and a dearth of facts.

    2) A thought process representative of the mistakes made over and over by people who don't take the time to learn and understand things just a little better.

    3) A term used to make the ignorant and inadequate feel as or more powerful than those who put serious effort combined with substantial intellect into solving problems properly.


    As a side note, I have always contended that the term "conventional wisdom" is an oxymoron.
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  18. oxymoron fight!
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  19. @Minglewood at 12

    You can respond to such a "skeptic" by rejoining that the AGW community is well aware of the small number of peer-reviewed papers that are in opposition to mainline AGW. You can then point him to the two articles on this in SkepticalScience-

    Here:

    Powell Project 1



    and

    Here:

    Powell Project 2

    Then you can ask your new friend if he knows how many papers there are supporting the mainline view, and ask how he can flippantly dismiss those thousands of papers.

    Then you can start getting mean. You can ask him which of the papers he's read, and why he agrees with them. The odds are 1) he hasn't read any of them, and is running a bluff with numbers. 2) that there is an established debunking of the paper.

    Look- it's isn't Congress' job to squelch myths...and it wouldn't be a free country if it was. It's our job. Keep up the good fight! Remember that the goal isn't to convert him, but to make clear to bystanders that our side can stand up for itself in any forum.
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  20. Sphaerica @ 03:17
    I have always contended that the term "conventional wisdom" is an oxymoron.

    This little gem embodies all the offensively elitist attitudes that are so offputting to so many people. You, the great unwashed are dumb. We, the elites, are the only ones who can "save the earth." You will do as we say and we have ways of making you do it. Shades of 1930s Russia, the modern day European Union and everything Orwellian.
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    Response:

    [DB] You have yet to post even one comment here that has added to the dialogue in any way.  It is tiresome and unoriginal.

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can and will be rescinded if the posting individual continues to treat adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Moderating this site is a tiresome chore, particularly when commentators repeatedly submit offensive, off-topic posts or intentionally misleading comments and graphics or simply make things up. We really appreciate people's cooperation in abiding by the Comments Policy, which is largely responsible for the quality of this site.
     
    Finally, please understand that moderation policies are not open for discussion.  If you find yourself incapable of abiding by these common set of rules that everyone else observes, then a change of venues is in the offing.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter, as no further warnings shall be given.

  21. "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." Winston Churchill
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  22. Phila "It'd take another blog the size of this one to present the multiple lines of evidence demonstrating that the exact opposite is true."

    Well, one thing this blog provides for such a project is a handy indexed list of topics. All you need is to get a few people together and start with the top ten Climate Myths from the left hand column. Then work your way through to No. 172.

    No need to do Basic, Intermediate, Advanced versions. Just show us all how it's done.
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  23. Patrick Kelly @20
    It appears that the 'elites' you complain about seem to have forgotten "the ways of making you do it." They have had to try convincing people by drawing conclusions based on facts.
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  24. THE PAST MONTH hasn’t been good for climate-change skeptics. At a congressional hearing Monday, Richard Muller, a former global-warming skeptic at the University of California, Berkeley, told lawmakers that, after a two-year review of historical world temperature data, he has verified the scientific consensus that the earth is warming — by about 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years. This is not surprising; as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last year, the warming of the planet, detected in multiple, independent lines of evidence, is “unequivocal.”

    Source: “A bad month for climate-change skeptics” Washington Post Editorial Board. Nov 18, 2011

    To access this editorial in its entirety, click here.
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  25. It seems that the real powers in the American Republican Party are Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist.
    I don't think any of the current crop of their candidates are willing to alienate both these pundits. Since Limbaugh has proclaimed global warming to be a hoax and Norquist is opposed to tax increases or any non-rightwing-sanctioned government expenditures, there's no hope for progress if the Republicans take the Oval Office and keep their hold on the House.
    If that happens, only a revolutionary breakthrough in super-cheap, ultra-efficient, clean energy production will make a difference.
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  26. I have been a ‘follower’ of this site for a number of years and I avidly read every article you post here. Keep up the good work.

    I also ‘debate’ mostly Climate Change on a UK political forum – although ‘debate’ is a misnomer because those who are anti- AGW continually recycle the age old ‘doubters’ misinformation and just cannot accept their views represent the tiniest minority of science in the world.

    However, my reason for posting here is that I regard much of the US Republican leadership as falling into the same denier group and who will not be persuaded by logic.

    So, what’s to do about it? My opinion is that politicians are mostly motivated by ‘self-protection’ and should their fallacies be exposed publicly, they may start to change their tune. Again, imo, most people, even very intelligent ones, are influenced by respected experts in the media – e.g. newspapers and television. Therefore, I say that pro-AGWarmers should actively develop alliances with various media forms to find ways to ferociously denounce the deniers – especially politicians like the US Republican hierarchy.

    This won’t be at all easy – especially in the USA and maybe to a lesser extent in Oz. For example, currently on BBC in the UK they are showing programs fronted by Sir David Attenborough of life in polar regions, - (and as an aside, the quality is no less than astounding), - but I understand the last episode to be shown in a few weeks will address thinning of the ice due to AGW. Yet, the BBC announced this week that in selling this series of programs worldwide, this last episode will be left out in the USA, (& maybe Oz – not sure of that). Also, several years ago the BBC did a series of 3 programs by the geologist Iain Stuart called “Climate Wars” which showed many of the famous deniers ‘unfavourably’ for want of a polite description. The BBC has not published this series on DVD – draw your own conclusions.

    So, a fantastic site doing a really good job but realistically only a tiny proportion of the world’s population looking.

    If I could do something practical I would - but I hope there are readers here who may have some clout/media connections to fight back through the media against the silly and even malicious deniers.
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  27. “Look at the 94 of 100 newly elected GOP members of Congress who have either said flat-out that they believe climate change is a vast hoax or that they have signed pledges to oppose any mitigation efforts. And this goes against all the evidence presented to every government around the world, including our own. This also extends to people like John Boehner, who has advocated in the past for teaching creationism in science classes, and who claims to believe that climate scientists are saying that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen.”

    Source: “How Ignorance, Greed and Ideology Are Warping Science and Hurting Democracy”, Rolling Stone, Nov 15, 2011

    To access this timely and insightful article, click here.
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  28. “As science writer Shawn Lawrence Otto points out in a tough-minded new book, Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, too many Americans are either plain ignorant of science or actively hostile to it, or both. And that's as true of political leaders and journalists as it is of ordinary citizens (to say nothing of corporate leaders who see action on climate change, say, as a threat to the bottom line). We think climate change is a hoax; we're convinced vaccines cause autism; we truly believe – as Newt Gingrich claims to – that embryonic stem cell research involves killing children.”

    Source: “How Ignorance, Greed and Ideology Are Warping Science and Hurting Democracy”, Rolling Stone, Nov 15, 2011

    To access this timely and insightful article, click here.
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  29. Actually, the tomato sauce on the pizza is what is considered the vegetable. And, since tomatoes don’t lose any of their nutritional value in high heat processing, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce are both just as viable and beneficial as fresh tomatoes.

    Maybe the Congressional Republicans know a little more than one might think.

    (Note: Technically tomatoes are a fruit since they have seeds.)

    "Cooking tomatoes in oil encourages intestinal absorption and results in a two-to-threefold rise in plasma lycopene concentrations," said Dr. Giovannucci. "Tomato sauce is one of the best lycopene sources."

    Source: Giovannucci, Edward et al., "Intake of Carotenoids and Retinol in Relation to Risk of prostate Cancer," Journal of the National Cancer Miracle Nutrient That Can Prevent Aging, Heart Diseaseand Cancer," Advanced Research Press, Inc. 1999. Hauppauge, N.Y.

    "The best food sources of lycopene according to the Tomato Research Council in New York City: ( Amount of lycopene in one ounce) Tomato Sauce, Spaghetti Sauce, Ketchup (5 mg); Tomato Soup, Canned Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Vegetable Juice (3 mg); Minestrone Soup, Vegetable Soup, Pink Grapefruit (1 mg)"
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  30. apirate - nobody is disputing the nutritional value of tomato sauce. However, there is very little tomato sauce on a slice of pizza, and to allow pizza to be considered a 'vegetable dish', the Republicans had to decrease the amount of tomato paste that counts as a full serving [I believe it ended up being 2 tablespoons]. Defending a move to allow a slice of pizza to replace a serving of vegetables on our kids' lunches is kind of absurd, IMO. But regardless, this is quite off-topic. The pizza = vegetable issue was merely an example of the many things Republicans think are more important than climate change. Please stay on topic.
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  31. Dana1981 @ 30
    I was merely responding to what was posted in the article. Perhaps it was off-topic to even include that statement in your post.

    In regards to your post at #9. The Dems should have been there in force regardless of their perceived knowledge. Their absence, along withe the GOP, is an indicator of the growing indifference to AGW.

    Regardless, politics and science are strange bedfellows.
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    Response:

    [DB] "The Dems should have been there in force regardless of their perceived knowledge."

    You continue to rationalize zero attendance by the Republicans, the anti-science party (by their own statements).  The facts remain that:

    • the world is warming
    • mankind, through it's fossil fuel emissions, are the cause of the majority of the temperature rise of the past 40 years
    • the country responsible for the largest portion of those fossil fuel emissions over that period is the United States
    • the leadership of one of the two largest political parties in the United States, the Republicans, denies the very science underlying most of the technological improvements of the past 100 years.

    That is denial of the fake-skepticism kind.  QED.

  32. I don't have the kind of time necessary to check impact factor and specific claims from a journal named "Journal of the National Cancer Miracle Nutrient That Can Prevent Aging, Heart Diseaseand Cancer" but if this is really the name of the journal, I'd be, a priori, a little skeptical of anything published in it.

    And indeed, calling pizza a vegetable is absurd by any stretch of the imagination.
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  33. In a strange way, this cherry pick of the lycopene content of tomato sauce is a good example of denial mentality. Choose a single isolated fact and ignore the rest of the evidence. In a single slice of frozen pizza:

    Calories 340 Sodium 740 mg
    Total Fat 18 g Potassium 0 mg
    Saturated 7 g Total Carbs 30 g
    Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 5 g
    Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 1 g
    Trans 0 g Protein 17 g
    Cholesterol 25 mg

    Thus the denier can justify CO2 as plant food and black as white as long as the emissivity of the black object is greater than 0.
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  34. And there's another example of so-called skepticism obvious from apiratelooksat50's use of copied 'facts', especially the use of the seemingly important

    "Source: Giovannucci, Edward et al., "Intake of Carotenoids and Retinol in Relation to Risk of prostate Cancer," Journal of the National Cancer Miracle Nutrient That Can Prevent Aging, Heart Diseaseand Cancer," Advanced Research Press, Inc. 1999. Hauppauge, N.Y.".


    This seems to be a hodge-podge of several different things plastered together by someone and copied willingly by another.

    apiratelooksat50's source may be tomatofest.com (who I'm sure are totally unbiased in this matter !), although several sites contain the exact same wording and grammatical errors.

    Edward Giovannucci's publication list contains nothing from the 'Journal of the National Cancer Miracle Nutrient That Can Prevent Aging, Heart Diseaseand Cancer' (unsurprisingly) and that 'Journal' is apparently printed by Advanced Research Press, which seems to be a one-man band operation involved in fitness & health magazine publishing in Ronkonkoma, New York. So it may possibly have been re-printed in that magazine in 1999, as suggested.

    The paper "Intake of Carotenoids and Retinol in Relation to Risk of prostate Cancer" was actually published in 1995 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, but Giovannucci did publish another paper in the same Journal in 1999 - "Tomatoes, tomato-based products, lycopene, and cancer: review of the epidemiologic literature."

    So, quite a feat of so-called skepticism involving no scepticism of the source whatsoever...
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  35. When all this denial leads to massive issues for the next generation, one wonders what the legacy of this generation will be. For Republican's especially, it would seem likely they will be regarded much as Germany's post-war generation regard (and disrespect) the wartime generation - "how could they be so deluded"
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  36. Apirate - this is actually a classic case of one party claiming the exact opposite of what is happening.

    Democrats, when they had control of the House, passed comprehensive cap and trade legislation (which had pros and cons). Now they are actively working to get America back to work.

    Republicans fought cap and trade, and publicly complain that the scientifically established fact of man-made climate change is a HOAX. So Republicans NEED the education offered at the committee meeting, while the Democrats, while they might benefit, don't NEED it.

    Meanwhile, whatever the Republicans are doing in the House, it is objectively true that it is not creating jobs (source: US unemployment level - unchanged since the Republicans ascent to power in 2010).

    You seem to be falling for the fallacy of false equivalence. While a pox on both their houses seems satisfying, it ignores the fact that one political party is actively against science, and one is not.

    I continue to be surprised that you, a science teacher, keep finding yourself more compatible with the party on record as against science.
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  37. apirate - what was posted in the article were some examples of issues which congressional Republicans apparently think are more important than attending a climate science briefing or holding a hearing on the issue. Among those was declaring pizza a vegetable (or 'vegetable dish', if you prefer). While I think that action is utterly stupid, and think it's astonishing that you would defend it (especially since, if I recall correctly, you're a teacher whose students' health will be adversely impacted by this decision), the point of the article was

    a) the discussion of climate science at the briefing, and
    b) the universal congressional Republican anti-science stance

    While it would have been nice for congressional Democrats to have attended the briefing, congressional Democrats have already voted to pass a climate bill, and have repeatedly tried to hold a climate hearing during this congressional session, only to be denied by the Republicans.

    Your focus on defending Republican efforts to categorize pizza as a vegetable dish - aside from itself being utterly ludicrous - only serves to distract from the anti-science stance of the Republican Party that is the point of this post.

    Henceforth I suggest we all abide by the policy DNFTT.
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  38. Pirate,

    The problem is that the Republicans are trying to steadfastly stick to a policy that is based on a complete lack of understanding of the science.

    That is unacceptable. They must either understand themselves or accept the position of the experts.

    One cannot make good policy from a position of ignorance.
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  39. @dana1981

    Your focus on defending Republican efforts to categorize pizza as a vegetable dish - aside from itself being utterly ludicrous - only serves to distract from the anti-science stance of the Republican Party that is the point of this post

    I disagree. I think it reinforces the point that most GOP'ers care more for the pockets of their benefactors (Big Oil/Big Food/Big Agro/Big Tobacc/Big Pharma..etc) than the lives of their kids and grand kids :
    * pizza is a vegetable
    * tobacco is good for you
    * drill baby drill with no regulations to check for spillage/polution
    * CO2 is good for you in large quantities
    * Generics are bad

    and many many many more examples...
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  40. Dana @ 37
    No matter how you word it, you still can't get around the fact that Democrats did not attend the briefing, either. Trying to do so is nothing more than a double standard.

    Congress actually did not vote pizza to be a vegetable. These links here and here provide a pretty good explanation of what happened. The bill was part of a larger budget cutting measure that both Republicans and Democrats participated in.

    The actual language in the bill that somehow got transformed into pizza is a vegetable was "(1) requires crediting of tomato paste and puree based on volume;". The link to the actual bill is here.

    Between the Senate and the House there were 20 Republicans and 18 Democrats on the Committees that approved the language in the Bill before it was submitted for voting.

    I don't disagree that pizza loaded with salty, fatty meats and cheeses can be unhealthy. But, tomato based products are generally healthy. The articles I linked to do a good job of explaining the reasoning behind the decision.

    I see daily what horrible diets our schoolkids have, but what they eat here is generally better than what they get at home. We do what we can with limited budgets and provide breakfast and lunch with healthy alternatives, but the kids shy away from them.

    Regardless, saying that Republicans voted pizza a vegetable is disingenuous and inaccurate. Just as saying they are anti-science is the same. It is all politics which should never be confused with science.

    What any politician votes for can be very different from what they believe/know. It is all about getting the vote, which is why you see several of the Republicans have changed their public stance on AGW.
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    Response:

    [DB] "No matter how you word it, you still can't get around the fact that Democrats did not attend the briefing, either."

    No matter how you word it, the inescapable fact is that an infinitely higher percentage of Democrats attended the briefing vs. Republicans (0).  But that is sophistry, like your rhetoric about tomato sauce.

    "It is all about getting the vote, which is why you see several of the Republicans have changed their public stance on AGW."

    Like Romney's flip-flopping to "curry" backing, perhaps?

    Enough with the sauce; please focus on substantive issues directly related to the OP.

  41. pirate @40:

    1) The wording of the act prevents any volume limit being placed on how much tomato paste or puree must be included before a meal can be considered a vegetable meal. Include a drop of tomato paste in your hotdog recipe, and hey presto!, the hotdog counts as a vegetable meal. The act is obviously absurd on that basis.

    2) The whole act is obviously a compromise between many competing interests. The question, then, is not how voted for the overall compromise package (in committee stage or in Congress) but who put the amendment into the bill in the committee stage? Was it Democrats or Republicans who insisted that they would not pass key legislation unless pizza was counted as a vegetable meal and federal money was used to feed school children excessively salty chips.

    If the answer to that question is not a Democrat, then all your defense of a shabby deed is revealed as so much squidding (the production of clouds of ink for concealment).
    0 0
    Response:

    [DB] And let that stand as the final say on tomato sauce on this memorable thread.  Anyone else is interested, they will have to submit a guest post on the topic.  The tomato sauce/pizza-is-a-vegetable goalpost shift diversion is now OT.

  42. apirate claims:
    "saying [Republican politicians] are anti-science is [disingenuous and inaccurate]."
    Actually it's factually accurate, as we have demonstrated repeatedly (see the above post and the links therein). Would you care to defend your false assertion that they are not anti-science, considering that for example, they voted to deny that "climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks for public health and welfare"?
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  43. pirate: "saying they are anti-science is the same. It is all politics which should never be confused with science."

    No one here is confused. Look here for choice examples of anti-science positions.
    0 0
  44. 41 - moderator DB

    I appologuse for serving up that somewhat cheesy diversion. Although I think that apirates splenetic defense is illustrative...

    ... and I've learned a new word.
    0 0
  45. “Science-averse Republicans have once again blocked the establishment of a National Climate Service by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, moving from denial of man-made climate change to the denial of climate itself. “I’m very concerned that NOAA has taken steps to form what amounts to a shadow climate service operation,” House science committee chair Ralph Hall (R-TX) cried in September. At a hearing in June, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) blasted the budget-neutral plan to consolidate NOAA’s existing, widely dispersed, climate capabilities under a single management structure as “propaganda services.” In the committee report submitted by appropriations chair Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) for the 2012 budget, the National Climate Service is expressly forbidden.

    Source: “GOP Deniers Block Creation Of Climate Service” Think Progress, Nov 21, 2011

    To access the entire article, click here.
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  46. Never underestimate the ability of the fossil fuel industry to influence what happens in the Congress of the United States.

    Energy companies continue to rake in massive profits. They use this wealth to leverage elections, write legislation, scale back regulations and escape accountability.

    Source: “The 5 Most Toxic Energy Companies and How They Control Our (USA) Politics” by Tara Lohan, AlterNet, Nov 20, 2011

    To access this in-depth and hard-hitting article, click here.

    PS: The five most toxic energy companies are per the article are: 1. Chevron, 2. Exxon Mobile, 3. BP, 4. Koch Industries, and 5. Massy Energy
    0 0
  47. John at 46
    If you have a product that you can offer and make a profit, would you limit yourself? You need to think about the multitude of people who profit from a company that makes money. Workers, shareholders and executives. That is what a well-run business does. That is who we invest in. Is Coca-Cola evil because they make massive profits?

    Sure, successful companies can hire lobbyists and influence decision making on the political level. I'm no fan of that either, but I don't know of a better system worldwide.

    Plus, anything coming from alternet.org should be considered extremely biased.
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  48. "Sure, successful companies can hire lobbyists and influence decision making on the political level. I'm no fan of that either, but I don't know of a better system worldwide. "

    Hmm. Well here in NZ, we have:
    - public funds used for election campaigning. Each party gets a share based roughly on recent popularity. This is an anathema to many but it puts campaigning on an even footing.
    - limits on campaign expenditure
    - no anonymous advertising.
    - political donations over NZ$30,000 (from memory) must be declared.

    The idea is severely limit the power of money to influence policy. To me, the US democracy look corrupt. It offers a way to buy power and influence. The world needs US citizens to fix it. You know you have succeeded when you dont have lobbyists (in the sense of people hired to talk directly to politicians).
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  49. #47 pirate, if you think the US system is the best political system in the world, you haven't looked into other political systems.

    First, as scaddenp says, money utterly talks in US politics. You can't be a US candidate unless large sums of money are donated to you personally, allowing all manner of corruption from vested interests. It's all to easy for principles to take a back seat when an organisation comes up to a budding candidate and offers hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, but might hint that taxes on rich/coporations might be best left low, and that it's not a great idea to act on climate change, for example. Secondly, due to the filibuster rules, US politics necessarily relies on compromise and discussion between the parties, something that just isn't happening at present with Republicans having sworn to make Obama a one-term president and oppose every single thing he does. So nothing gets agreed, even on debt or budget. Between these two facts, US democracy appears from the outside to be broken just now.

    You don't like the source of John's article. Do you have evidence that energy / FF companies are not using some of their profits to influence politicians in the USA? Here's some evidence in a Guardian article showing that even foreign FF companies got into the act before the US mid-term elections.

    I much prefer democratic systems like NZ or even the UK (and I think many European countries) where private funding of campaigns is much more limited, such as in scaddenp's post above. It doesn't prevent corruption, but it certainly doesn't aid it as in the US.
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  50. @Pirate #47:

    You convenitnetly ignore the fact that the five companies listed have been in the vanguard of creating and perpetuating the Climate Denial Spin Machine. In addition, their environmental track records have been abysmal.

    BTW, Coca-Cola's environmental track record has also been abysmal.
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