House panel hearing becomes climate change sparring session

Members of the House Science Committee battled over the validity of climate science during a Wednesday hearing. 

Committee Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithAnti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Ex-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm MORE (R-Texas) opened the hearing by saying he believes “the climate is changing and that humans play a role.” 

But, he added, “I also believe significant questions remain as to the extent.”

“Much of climate science today appears to be based more on exaggerations, personal agendas and questionable predictions than on the scientific method,” he said. 

“Those who engage in such actions do a disservice to the American people and to their own profession.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Smith has used his position as Science Committee chairman to probe federal research into climate change, including waging a public fight with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over a major climate study.

On Wednesday, he asked a series of scientists invited to the hearing by Republicans to outline “uncertainties and biases” he sees in climate science, and he contended there are inconsistencies in climate and weather projections within global warming research.

Smith’s position — that there are “significant questions” about the role of humans in climate change — is out of step with the majority of climate scientists, who have concluded human activity is a primary contributor to a warming trend around the globe.

Democrats on the committee noted the scientific record on climate change.  

“The current scientific consensus on human-caused climate change is based on thousands of studies conducted by thousands of scientists all around the globe,” committee ranking member Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonReturning to the moon to gain soft political power Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Prosecutors used FISA warrant to get info on Huawei | Study finds discrimination in Facebook ads | Bezos retains voting control over ex-wife's Amazon stocks MORE (D-Texas) said. 

Democrats’ chief witness, climate scientist Michael Mann, criticized committee Republicans for their NOAA probe, saying it “is meant to send a chilling signal to the entire research community, that if you, too, publish and speak out about the threat of human-caused climate change, we’re going to come after you.”

Mann sparred directly with Smith, highlighting a Friday article in Science magazine that criticized Smith for speaking at a conference for climate change skeptics. Science magazine is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

“That is not known as an objective writer or magazine,” Smith said. 

Mann replied, “Well, it is ‘Science’ magazine.”