On March 31st of this year, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology scheduled a full committee hearing on climate change. As Paul Krugman later put it, three of the five "expert" witnesses Republicans called for were "...an economist, a lawyer and a professor of marketing." The only scientists which Republicans scheduled to testify were two outspoken skeptics: Doctors John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and Robert Muller, University of California, Berkley, and Faculty Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.
Robert Muller was there for two reasons. First, he had publicly doubted the validity of the surface temperature records which scientists believed proved the existence of global warming, and second, using U.C. Berkley resources, he had just finished a thorough, independent review (BEST) of those records. That review by the way had been partially funded by, of all things, the Koch Foundation.
Republicans were all a'twitter in anticipation of a take-down of global warming alarmists by Muller and his team. Even the hack Tony Watts had written, on February 11th, a glowing post on the integrity of the methodology behind the Berkley review.
So... what happened?
From the written summary of Dr. Muller's testimony, this bombshell:
"...we see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups."
"Prior groups at NOAA, NASA, and in the UK (HadCRU) estimate about a 1.2 degree C land temperature rise from the early 1900s to the present. This 1.2 degree rise is what we call global warming. Their work is excellent, and the Berkeley Earth project strives to build on it."
Dr. Muller even presented the committee with this lovely graph:
Republicans had been expecting a complete refutation of the data, yet got instead a complete confirmation!
How did they react? Steve, please, why ask? The majority summary of the hearings is titled:
"Witnesses Highlight Flawed Processes Used to Generate Climate Change Science, Inform Policy"
Take a moment to go have a look at it. In it, there is no mention, at all, of the testimony by Dr. Muller - their own witness! How's that for impartiality? It is as if Dr. Muller didn't even testify! And by the way, this is the committee charged with reviewing the findings of science. Steve, all the posts you've written here on this blog about science tell me you are at the very least a passionate believer in the concept that science should remain above politics. In this crude, clumsy episode, Republicans have just edited out the facts they don't want to hear.
The whole thing was intended by Republicans to be nothing more than a show trial, reminiscent (and I mean this) of the show trials orchestrated by Stalin back in the late 1930's. Why else would they have called an economist, a lawyer, and a professor of marketing to what was supposed to be an investigation of science? They expected, indeed invited, five witnesses to appear, raise their hands and swear before God to tell the truth, but had no graceful stategy for dealing with the one man who actually did. So they just pretended he wasn't there.
Anyway, predictably, after having praised the Muller effort before the results were in, Anthony Watts is now posting links on his website to criticisms of the BEST survey by the usual suspects. Back to Stalin...
If you have time, take another moment to read through the entry on "Lysenkoism", a term which,
"...is used colloquially to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives."
Reading through this entry myself I got an eerie sense of deja vu. The driving force behind Lysenkoism was the common man's distrust of the academic, as against the more reliable value of intuitive common sense:
"Isaak Izrailevich Prezent, a main Lysenko theorist, presented Lysenko in Soviet mass-media as a genius who had developed a new, revolutionary agricultural technique. In this period, Soviet propaganda often focused on inspirational stories of peasants who, through their own canny ability and intelligence, came up with solutions to practical problems."
I see this same distrust of a presumed intellectual elite - with sinister, ulterior motives - as underpinning the Right's dogmatic rejection of science generally, and of climate science in particular. You yourself have more than once referred to the wisdom of "the unwashed masses", which, by some kind of magic, renders perfectly clear answers to questions posed by a highly complicated science.
Steve, I'm no worshiper of science. Plus, yes, often times in matters of policy we sometimes lose sight of the simple solutions hanging right in front of our noses. But the problem of climate change is one we desparately need qualified, informed scientists to unravel. We're not going to get anywhere if we decide, as congressional Republicans apparently have, to ignore them when they contradict whatever conclusions we want to be true, as opposed to what really are.