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Global Warming Hearing Report, Part I

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyMarch 29, 2007 2:20 AM


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Well, as usual, there's much to say about the latest House hearing on political interferences with climate science. Beforehand, I had the honor of meeting Rep. Brad Miller, who's been a pioneer on this issue. For me, that was probably the highlight of the hearing. Miller was a nice, very personable guy. I told him I'd sent him a copy of Storm World. He represents North Carolina, after all. Meanwhile, once the hearing started, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher once again, er, "distinguished" himself, using up all of his allotted time to speechify rather than ask the witnesses questions, talking about solar variations and global warming on Mars (you know the talking point), and then credulously repeating the claim that James Hansen has done 14,000 media interviews. This last assertion is so incredibly dumb, and in such an obvious way, that I'm not going to even bother refuting it. I have to say, though, that I was in some ways most staggered by the testimony submitted by George C. Marshall Institute president Jeff Kueter (PDF). I encourage anyone with knowledge of climate science to read it. My jaw dropped when I saw that in purporting to highlight uncertainties about global warming, Kueter repeatedly relies upon statements from reports published in 2001 (including the well-known National Academies report from that year that conservatives love to misrepresent by exaggerating uncertainties). Alas, there's a fatal flaw to this argumentative strategy, and it's one that may already have occurred to you: It's 2007. We have a new IPCC report now. It says warming of the climate system is unequivocal and there's 90 percent certainty that we're driving it. You can't quote now-superseded 2001 assessments to undermine this. You just can't.

P.S.: Unintentionally hilarious quotation from Kueter's testimony, with my emphasis added:

With respect to climate change and its public policy ramifications, the [Marshall] Institute's position, held for nearly 20 years, is that distinguishing human influence from natural variability is not sufficiently understood and that many uncertainties about critical climate processes require resolution before an adequate understanding is established for projecting future climate changes.

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