‘A Very Strange Mixture of Science and… Not’

March 31, 2017

Clear-bright sunshine blustered by gusty winds this early evening Friday on California’s north coast — the first of maybe a week of good weather, so far the longest stretch of nice this year.
About time…

In the shadow of the T-Rump Russkie ‘connection,’ with its horror-movie, soap-opera antics, the US House Science Committee quietly mocked humanity in way-downplaying climate change.
The hearing held Wednesday has gone nearly unreported, and sure didn’t make cable or network news. I’d heard about it, and was looking forward to it due to noted climatologist Michael Mann being scheduled to testify — yet in the wake of so much Russkie-related shit, even I forgot until this morning.

We’re chin-deep in some ‘weird shit’…

(Illustration: Salvador Dali’s ‘Exploding Raphaelesque Head,’ found here).

The narrative playing-out in DC right now is like a horrible train-wreck that you just can’t take your eyes off of, and with one piece of shit after another, there’s not a breather minute. Watching Sean Spicer is getting hard to do without a certain madness swelling in the brain — he’s one son-of-a-bitch that’s most-definitely in the wrong job.
Playing in the background of the everlasting T-Rump tale was that Science Committee’s program, which supposedly held to ‘“examine the scientific method and process as it relates to climate change,”‘ and ‘“focus on the underlying science that helps inform policy decisions.”
Such terrible, dangerous bullshit.
Insight into the event via Gizmodo on Wednesday:

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology fell off the flat Earth’s edge into a profoundly anti-science abyss years ago.
Hearings like this one crop up every now and then, often with the same cadre of questionably-credentialed witnesses offering up the same tired fallacies that serve to cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and human-caused.
Today, instead of any sort of reasonable discussion of climate impacts and potential solutions, the hearing mainly entailed a litany of untruths and long-debunked conspiracy theories, along with some incredibly awkward name-calling from the witnesses.
This was political theater at its worst; actual science barely made an appearance.

The hearing featured one widely-respected climate scientist—Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State — and three Republican invitees whose views on climate change, if we’re being charitable, lie somewhat outside mainstream scientific consensus: Judith Curry, professor emeritus at Georgia Tech; John Christy, professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville; and Roger Pielke Jr., professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado.

As Democratic Congressman Bill Foster — the only member of Congress with a PhD in a scientific field — put it at one point during the hearing: “This is a very strange mixture of science and… not.”
When Mann quoted a recent article in Science calling out Smith for using the committee for political gain, the chairman interrupted him to say that that journal—Science!—“is not known as an objective magazine.”
It was, overall, a horrendously depressing display of scientific illiteracy, but there were some odd bits of optimism to be found.
The witnesses all agreed at various points that yes, the climate is changing and that humans play a role (though they disagreed, contrary to overwhelming evidence, on the magnitude of that role), and they also agreed that the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to Earth-observing systems at NASA, NOAA, and elsewhere are a monumentally dumb idea.

Mann also observed:

“The attacks against scientists by individuals and groups, many of which allied with fossil fuel interests and fossil fuel front groups, have a lot of goals. One of which is to silence researchers…If every time you publish something you are worried about having to respond to endless FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests and receiving thousands of emails and being called to testify, obviously that’s very stifling.
“The intention is to cause scientists to retreat. It’s meant to send a chilling signal to the entire research community.”

The chair of the committee is a pure prick — background via Mother Jones

Sitting on the dais across from Mann was House science committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a climate change denier who has made headlines in recent years by using his committee to investigate scientists and accuse them of rigging climate data.
Last week, at the Heartland Institute’s annual DC conference for climate change deniers, Smith boasted of his record of issuing dozens of subpoenas to government researchers, environmental groups, and Democratic attorneys general investigating ExxonMobil.
He also previewed Wednesday’s hearing, predicting that it was “going to be so much fun.”
He slow-rolled the names of the witnesses as conference attendees cheered—but he warned them they might want to hold their applause until he finished reading name of the final witness, which was Mann.
Smith summarized his own views of global warming in his opening statement Wednesday: “Alarmist predictions amount to nothing more than wild guesses. The ability to project far in to the future is impossible…All too often, scientists ignore the basic tenets of science in order to justify their claims. Their ultimate goal appears to be to promote a personal agenda even if the evidence doesn’t support it.”

Although the most-alarming threat to humanity in all of history, an immediate threat, too, climate change takes a way-back seat to another idiot House committee chair Devin Nunes — we’re in some bad trouble…

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