Lamar Smith’s ‘thoughtful and objective’ climate denialism

Lamar Smith is a Republican Congressman from Texas, and chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. An op-ed of his appeared in today’s Washington Post.

It starts: “Climate change is an issue that needs to be discussed thoughtfully and objectively.”

Pretty much from that moment on, Rep. Smith betrays this call for thoughtful objectivity by basing his argument in the well-established comforts of reasonable sounding anti-science denialism.

Smith continues:

  • “There is a great amount of uncertainty associated with climate science”
  • ” The State Department has found that the [Keystone XL] pipeline will have minimal impact on the surrounding environment and no significant effect on the climate.”
  • “U.S. emissions contribute very little to global concentrations of greenhouse gas, and that even substantial cuts in these emissions are likely to have no effect on temperature.”
  • “Data released in October from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit show that global temperatures have held steady over the past 15 years, despite rising greenhouse gas emissions.”

Each of these statements (a small selection I’ve chosen to highlight) is wrong (see Climate Progress, among other take downs). This is not a thoughtful and objective discussion of a complicated issue, as Smith would like us to believe. It is rather a repetition of denialist claims in the guise of moderate rhetoric.

This is a common tactic in the climate-denial community. Let’s be reasonable, thoughtful, objective. Let’s consider all the sides. Don’t be hasty, think of the economy, if we don’t know we should be cautious.

The problem with this is we do know, there’s only one side to the climate science debate, we must be hasty if we are going to preserve our economy.

Be objective and thoughtful, Representative Smith, I urge to be so. Because there is no scientific, objective path forward that can possibly support the kind of delay your op-ed calls for. You may believe regulating greenhouse gases to mitigate the impacts of climate change is “heavy-handed.” But when you say that a call for such action is are based on “unfounded claims”, you have are no longer operating in the realm of objectivity.

I for one hope the Republican Party manages to outgrow its anti-objective “climate objectivity” in time for meaningful action to come about. Today, I’m not optimistic.


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