Sunday, February 20, 2011

House Republicans Vote to Repeal Climate Science Funding

In a vote held just before 2 am ET, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted Saturday to eliminate the United States' contribution to funding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  The final vote on the amendment was 244-179 on an essentially party line split.  The vote is disturbing to scientists because the basis for it, as presented by its sponsor, Republican Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9) was contrary to established fact and science.

Rep. Luetkemeyer argued that the IPCC is "fraught with waste and fraud, and engaged in dubious science," though these arguments have largely been shown to be both false and specious.  Luetkemeyer also cited a list of "more than 700 acclaimed international scientists have challenged the claims made by the IPCC, in this comprehensive 740-page report."  The report is the list of quotes and abstracts compiled by Marc Morano (a lobbyist funded non-scientist) when he worked for James Inhofe during Inhofe's previous chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  While some of the scientists listed are in fact acclaimed, mostly they are in completely separate fields of study and have never done any climate research.  Others are not scientists at all.  And many of the quotes and abstracts have been edited to suggest positions many of the scientists say they do not hold.  Rep. Luetkemeyer also cites an opinion by "famed Princeton University physicist Dr. Robert Austin, who has published 170 scientific papers and was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences."  It's unclear why Luetkemeyer believes Dr. Austin's opinion holds more sway than active climate researchers that are also members of the National Academy of Sciences and have similar publication records, given that Dr. Austin works in a completely different field of science and has never done any climate science research.  Meanwhile, actual climate scientists with thousands of scientific papers in climate science are dismissed by Luetkemeyer as less capable and/or trustworthy.

Luetemeyer also cited the 2009 "climategate" emails in which more than 1000 emails dating back 13 years were stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit in the UK. Again, Rep. Luetemeyer suggests that the emails indicate foul play on the part of scientists, despite the fact that at least five separate investigations have debunked that contention as utterly false.  In fact, the investigations showed that climate scientists had worked with great diligence and that the anti-science accusers had cherry picked and intentionally misinterpreted selected passages out of context to misrepresent what was said.

While Luetemeyer and his fellow House Republicans vote to defund our portion of the IPCC commitment (note that he also misrepresents the actual funding amount), the US National Academy of Sciences has recently said that:
"...the compelling case that climate change is occurring and is caused in large part by human activities is based on a strong, credible body of evidence."
NASA, NOAA and the World Meteorological Organization, along with all the major Academies of Sciences around the world and all major relevant scientific organizations, all concur that the climate is changing and that human activity is the cause.  The science that led to this conclusion is robust and voluminous. 

But apparently the Republican Congress thinks they know better than climate scientists and can overrule basic atmospheric physics going back through more than 200 years of understanding.  Ironically, a group of scientists recently wrote a letter to Congress asking it to avoid inserting politics into science.  The letter "emphasizes the importance of truly understanding the science of climate change, and stresses the need to prevent political ideology from clouding our scientific understanding of how climate change is impacting our way of life." 

It remains to be seen whether the Senate will follow suit in denying scientific funding, or whether any such amendment would survive the conference committee reconciliation of the separate House and Senate appropriations bills. 


citizenschallenge said...

Excellent. Thank you for taking the time to put that together.

Hope you don't mind me sharing it

The Dake Page said...

I don't mind you sharing it at all. It is important to base our decision-making on sound science, and here is a case where political ideology has tried to legislate away the science.

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