The United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology is holding an inquiry into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This marks something of a change for the committee, which has held two hearings on climate change on climate issues in this session of congress, but 15 on space exploration.
In a reverse of John Oliver's effort to represent the actual debate about Global Warming they've scoured the world for three critics of the IPCC, while allowing only one person involved with the process to speak, and none of the highly qualified scientists who endorse it from the outside.
Princeton's Professor Michael Oppenheimer, a lead author on the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, presented the case for the defense. He was invited by the minority Democrat members of the committee.
Against him were the Republican invites, Roger Pielke Senior of Colorado State University, University of Sussex Professor of Economics Richard Tol and Professor Emeritus Daniel Botkin of the University of California, Santa Barbra.
Pielke is a climatologist, but has a record for making claims that are hard to back up. For example, he has claimed that the sea level has stopped rising, and Arctic ice is no longer shrinking. He told the committee that the IPCC needed more deniers on it, apparently irrespective of their qualifications.
Tol has made his name spruiking the benefits of a warmer world and claiming the negative effects are overstated. He has, for example, dismissed the idea that Climate Change could increase the risks of war, a claim that looks rather weak in the light of the current devastating conflict in Syria.
Botkin takes the view that since the environment is always changing it doesn't really matter if we change it at rates that have not been seen since the dinosaurs disappeared. It is unknown whether he uses similar logic to argue that police should not attempt to prevent murders, since death is natural. He told the committee that not only could climate change not be stopped, it couldn't be reduced, saying “mitigation is very unlikely to work".
All of which was predictable given the records of the members of the committee. Chairman Lamar Smith alleged in 2009, "prominent scientists were so determined to advance the idea of human-made global warming that they worked together to hide contradictory temperature data." Smith has yet to produce the hidden data.
Other members of the committee have claimed (in 2009), “we’ve actually had global cooling in the last ten years" and that the entire concept of global warming is a conspiracy to “destroy America”.
According to their online CVs, of the 22 Republican members of the committee sitting in judgment on some of the world's leading scientists, none have a degree in climatology or related fields. Only four have any scientific or engineering qualifications at all. However, Smith is a Christian Scientist, and that's almost the same thing, right?