GOP chairman uses House floor speech to decry NYT column as ‘fake news’
© Greg Nash

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, on Monday blasted a New York Times column blaming climate change for the plight of starving children in Africa as “fake news.”

In a brief House floor speech, Smith dismissed columnist Nicholas Kristof’s documentation of severe droughts in the island nation of Madagascar as hyperbole aimed at “climate alarmists.”

“A good example of fake news appeared in Sunday’s New York Times. It’s a column headlined, ‘As Trump Denies Climate Change, These Kids Die,’ ” Smith said. “This may be a new high, or maybe a new low, for climate alarmists and their exaggerations.”

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Smith, who’s chaired the House science panel since 2013, has long rejected the mainstream scientific consensus that human activity is responsible for global warming. 

As chairman, Smith has probed the investigations led by two Democratic attorneys general into whether Exxon Mobil Corp. publicly denied global warming while acknowledging internally that fossil fuel emissions contribute to it. And he has accused the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of using politically motivated studies to support its conclusions about climate change. 

The Texas Republican cited “numerous studies” showing a weak connection between climate change and extreme weather. He further suggested people are being misled on the topic by what he described as “politically correct science.”

“Climate alarmists tend to ignore scientific evidence and encourage media hype. And of course the liberal media are all too willing to go along. Climate discussion should be based on good science, not politically correct science,” Smith concluded. 

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star defaced Report: Senate's Russia probe understaffed Trump won't comment on Le Pen's advancement in French election MORE has also expressed doubts about global warming and once said it was a hoax invented by China. Trump later said the China remark was a “joke.”

The “immediate cause” of the droughts in southern Africa, Kristof wrote, was an unusually warm El Niño event that’s part of a regional trend of the last few decades. He then cited research by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, University of California-Santa Barbara and NOAA that concluded human-caused climate change likely exacerbated the El Niño event and further reduced rainfall.

“Trump should come and feel these children’s ribs and watch them struggle for life. It’s true that the links between our carbon emissions and any particular drought are convoluted, but over all, climate change is as palpable as a wizened, glassy-eyed child dying of starvation,” Kristof wrote. 

“The most basic starting point is for the American president-elect to acknowledge what even illiterate Madagascar villagers understand: Climate change is real.”