Commentary on US Committee hearing on climate change


There’s yet another congressional hearing on climate change today in the US, featuring

Dr. J. Scott Armstrong, Professor, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Richard Muller, Professor, University of California, Berkley and Faculty Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

Dr. John Christy, Director, Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama in Huntsville

Mr. Peter Glaser, Partner, Troutman Sanders, LLP.

Dr. David Montgomery, Economist

Dr. Kerry A. Emanuel, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Real time commentary will be provided by several mainstream climate scientists to put the expected spin in context (see e.g. this commentary on Christy’s previous testimony a few weeks ago):

Live commentary by Trenberth, Dessler and Yohe (more info on this here)

Live blogging by Gavin Schmidt, Jay Gulledge and Eli Kintisch

Since it’s been getting quite popular lately for politicians to debate and try to legislate scientific understanding (am I the only one who finds this weird? No, no), SkS set up a special page with climate myths from politicians to try and keep them accountable for spewing nonsense:

Climate Myths from Politicians


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10 Responses to “Commentary on US Committee hearing on climate change”

  1. Scott Mandia Says:

    And as the hearing charter essentially states this will be about why scientists cannot be trusted nor can the IPCC. Climategate is a major part of what will be discussed today. Shame.

    I guess the US National Academy of Sciences which was created to advise Congress on matters of science means nothing to these policy stallers and deniers.

  2. J Bowers Says:

    Nature: Into ignorance

    …Several scientists were on hand — at the behest of Democrats on the subcommittee — to answer questions and clear things up, but many lawmakers weren’t interested in answers, only in prejudice.

    It is hard to escape the conclusion that the US Congress has entered the intellectual wilderness, a sad state of affairs in a country that has led the world in many scientific arenas for so long. Global warming is a thorny problem, and disagreement about how to deal with it is understandable. It is not always clear how to interpret data or address legitimate questions. Nor is the scientific process, or any given scientist, perfect. But to deny that there is reason to be concerned, given the decades of work by countless scientists, is irresponsible…

  3. klem Says:

    I don’t know what the issue is here. If they vote to end the EPAs control of CO2 then so what? In a couple of years we’ll have another election and we’ll go through this all over again, perhaps we’ll get the carbon pricing you so desire at that time. If not then, in a couple more years we’ll try again to deliver he increased living costs you so badly desire. In my lifetime, I would never have expected so many Americans would believe their cost of living is too low and want to increase the price of the very fuel which has delivered that low cost of living. I went to business school in the 1990s and there were no business models which accounted for the desire of the public for an increase in living costs, all were based on the desire for lower living costs. I guess there must be lots of new economic and business models which employ these counter intuitive notions. I would love to hear about some of them. I read a lot of business publications and haven’t found any of these models yet, but obviously they must be out there since they are the ones to which you adhere. Anyway just wait a couple of years and we can revisit this issue, for now I think it’s dead. Cheers.

  4. Bart Says:


    I’d sure hope that new business models will at some point include the costs that are up to now externalized and spread out over the current or future citizenry to pay.

    Is “no such thing as a free lunch” counter intuitive to you?

  5. Deech56 Says:

    In the Science liveblog, I was struck by a comment from kwon that implied that Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) wasn’t a real conservative because he is from Maryland. As a constituent of his, I can attest to his conservatism – the 6th District is very red. His only straying from the reservation is his touting of alternative energy and peak oil.

  6. Dana Says:

    Thanks for the link to the politician myths database, Bart.

    I watched about an hour of the hearing (it went for about 3 hours). It made my blood boil. An absolute travesty. The Republican economist lied about economics. Christy was little more than a tool to repeat every climate myth the Republican politicians could come up with. Muller repeated his hockey stick misinformation schpiel. Emanuel was terrific though.

  7. Ben S Says:

    Silly SkS, politicians don’t read web pages.

  8. dhogaza Says:

    In my lifetime, I would never have expected so many Americans would believe their cost of living is too low and want to increase the price of the very fuel which has delivered that low cost of living.

    Well, we’ve proven that we’re willing to pay extra costs to chlorinate our water.

    People continue to buy new cars that incorporate safety feature that they have to pay for.

    People don’t seem to object to increased safety standards for airliners, or to pay for a national air traffic control system after uncontrolled flights led to unacceptable levels of fatal airplane accidents in the 1950s.

    There are an infinity of examples of people willing to pay more for a convenience that leads to unwanted circumstances. Air pollution. Water pollution.

    Essentially what you’re saying is … “climate science is a fraud” … because that’s the only way you can justify your statement that, essentially, rests on a presumption that there’s no safety/environmental cost in our low fuel prices.

    If science is right … you’re basic foundational assumption is wrong. If you’re right, and basic physics is wrong, CO2 lasers will stop operating the moment you read this …

  9. J Bowers Says:

    klem — “I went to business school in the 1990s and there were no business models which accounted for the desire of the public for an increase in living costs, all were based on the desire for lower living costs.”

    What business school did you go to, or are you playing a red herring? Every business model maximises profits for shareholders, and all else is secondary including lowering the cost of living for the customer. It’s possible to give the illusion of a product or service being cheap and lowering costs, but no product or service has on its price tag the cost to the taxpayer/consumer for cleaning up the environment, or the taxpayer subsidy to that product or service.

    The true cost of coal, for instance, has a hidden annual cost of $345 billion for American consumers alone, and gasoline costs ~$13 a gallon. Like Bart says, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    But there is a cheap lunch, for real, where energy’s concerned. After manufacture and forseeable maintenance costs the Sun and wind are free. Africans and Palestinians are already using wind and solar off grid, even making their own rooftop windfarms using recycled products like used soft drinks bottles; living standards rise and their kids get better school grades, and we all know what especially can mean for economies.

  10. Dana Says:

    Along the lines of J Bowers’ comment, when accounting for externalities, coal is already more expensive than most forms of renewable energy.

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