Next in the docket for being criminally bewildered, the climate change Deniers at the US Chamber of Commerce (hearafter CoC). We have some updates from the blogosphere, and a jaw dropping attempt at revisionist damage control by the CoC to consider.
A few days ago I reported how the US Chamber was calling for “Scopes Monkey Trial” type hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency (hereafter EPA) endangerment findings and proposed action. Much has been going on, so let’s sample some of it.
The CoC started some damage control with the unsubstantiated, unsourced claim by Brad Peck that “… the agency [EPA] used secondary scientific sources, studies that largely weren’t adequately peer-reviewed and the selective use of scientific studies to justify a policy decision they wanted to make.”
While the evidence before us clearly shows that Peck is something of an expert on using questionable sources to justify a decision that he wanted to make, I’d still like to know what his source was. No mention of the it though; apparently the CoC does not believe in transparency and using information that is beyond question.’ Maybe we should have a trial?
Never one to miss an opportunity to say something irrelevant, Watts makes an Appeal to Popularity Fallacy with the unsubstantiated claims that “The proposed finding has drawn more than 300,000 public comments. Many of them question scientists’ projections…” Would that his blog were a wiki so that we could insert “” as appropriate, monumental though that task would be.
According to the CoC there were only 5,600 comments, and for some reason I am more inclined to believe them than Watts, despite the lack of credibility both parties have.
The Scopes analogy led the Christian Science Monitor to ask “Are climate change deniers like creationists?” (used as a synonym for evolution deniers, which strictly speaking it isn’t). The same observation has been made repeatedly on this blog (here, here, here and most notably in It’s Twins!: Evolution and Climate Change Deniers) and by others as well. The article does not add much to that discussion, but does identify a few prominent climate change Deniers as also being Evolution Deniers.
Adding to the growing list of analogies (Scopes, McCarthyism, my own questionable comparison to Soviet era political show trials) I forgot to mention Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists comparing it to the Salem Witch Trials; more food for the icon meditations. Legal Planet has some interesting analysis of the scientific and legal merit of the CoC demand (here and here).
Eric Roston points out that the CoC may have ‘done a Watts’ (cf Anthony Watts bungled attempt at censorship), ie created a public stir about an issue in such an idiotic manner that they give the issue a high public profile while simultaneously discrediting their own case. He also draws another interesting parallel viz the Scopes trial was about evolution, and with climate change the fate of many of the worlds species are at risk of extinction ie ‘the trial seeking an end to evolution’.
For background and context David Roberts does a quick run through of the input the CoC gave on the Waxman-Markey bill. As is the usual tactic, it is meant to sound reasonable on the surface while actually completely undermining the Bill. He also draws our attention to a good Politico article about divisions within the CoC over climate since more than a few of the big players are either exhibiting some sanity and/or see climate issues as an economic opportunity.
I will take a slight exception to Roberts method when suggesting that the trial issue “gives the right wing something to make hay over (and oh boy, are they).” The claim is true, but the substantiation is a google blog search for “epa trial.” That’s a little too broad given that the Denialophere has a fit anytime the EPA is involved in anything; we don’t want to ‘do a Pielke‘ here. I suggest that a search for ‘EPA trial Scopes “Chamber of Commerce“‘ is much more representative, and still scary enough.
Abandon reason all ye who enter here
Kovacs, the Vice President for the Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs Division, U.S. Chamber of Commerce interviewed for the original story, uses the opportunity to clarify a few points that may be causing some confusion.
First of all, “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not denying or otherwise challenging the science behind global climate change.”, which is why he originally said “It would be the science of climate change on trial.”
Well, I’m glad he cleared that up. I confess that I mistakenly took his original statement to mean exactly what it actually says, rather than meaning the exact opposite of what it says, as he has now clarified. I just don’t know how I did that, possibly because “The anti-business lobby quickly jumped on these news articles without actually reading the substance of the Chamber’s petition.”
Well why didn’t he say so before! Reading the 23 page petition I learn that the CoC wants to be able to demonstrate that higher temperatures will not have any adverse effects, indeed they will actually be beneficial to humans, makes the unsubstantiated and blatantly false claim that the expectationa of adverse effects are based on hearsay and speculation whereas the evidence for benign consequences are based on peer reviewed science, cites the Carlin fraud as evidence of the suppression of legitimate science, cites the EPA’s use of well established science (eg that CO2 emisions have adverse effects) as being evidence of prejudgment, and wants a small hearing with limited evidence by only a few witnesses.
Put differently, the CoC does not question the trivial and obvious fact of rising temperatures, they just hope to undermine all of the rest of everything that science has shown to be true about climate change. Further, they want a trial rigged so that they can pretend that the pro and con scientific evidence is evenly balanced, a trial where the claims of a loonies like Monckton, Lomborg and Goklany would be regarded as being as credible as that of actual scientists. There’s more of course, but that’s the gist of it.
Before the law
Much clearer now. They don’t want to put the science of climate change on trial, just 99% of it. And they’d like a process that is not biased by facts and reason, but rather one that gives equal consideration to rational science on the one hand, and frauds, lies and hoaxes on the other. What could be fairer? or more democratic?
UPDATE: Robert Grumbine points out the parallel with the original Scopes trial where no scientific testimony was permitted. In this sense a modern Scopes trial is exactly what the CoC wants. (Sept 7)
But that’s not all! “Second, and equally troubling, is EPA’s ignorance of any evidence that calls into question its conclusions on endangerment.” Now THAT is serious! What do you call the psychological condition where you fail to see things that aren’t there? You know, when you don’t have delusions about things that don’t exist? I’m sure it’s in the DSM IV somewhere, the name just escapes me at the moment.
It goes on in much the same vein, arguing that far from wishing to weaken the regulation of CO2, the CoC wants to strengthen it by diverting the US from this narrow goal of immediate reductions, and instead into the far more effective strategy of negotiating concerted global action some time in the distant future.
Just one question though. If they actually believe that climate change will be positive, or at least neutral as per their earlier claims, why would they support the EPA wanting to limit emissions? Not that this outright contradiction should be considered in any way evidence that the CoC petition is anything other than a cogent, rational, evidence based position. Perish the thought.
Kovac’s sums up by assuring us that the petition is most certainly not a delaying tactic. He just wishes to note that only 3% of the public comments contained any scientific evidence, and wants to make the observation in such a way as to suggest that the EPAs scientific basis is somehow based on these comments rather than on the scientific literature.
Further, that the hearings should be focused on the issues raised in these comments rather than be open to the real scientific basis for anthropogenic climate change. In short, they do not want to delay the endangerment finding so much as ensure that it dies like a dog.
I forgot to mention that it seems we may have hurt Kovacs’ feelings. “The Chamber has been sharply criticized by EPA and environmental groups for making such a request. I am at a loss to explain why this is so.”
He’s at a loss to explain it. I don’t doubt it. It is one of the clearest signs of willful ignorance for the purposes of manipulating the public for your own ends. Other symptoms include being disingenuous, blatant lying, flaming hypocrisy, craven political opportunism, and general disregard for the public good while pursuing your own short term wealth. It looks very much like we are dealing with a fairly advanced case and the prognosis is not good.
If Kovacs has not sufficiently disgusted you then I can recommend another posting at the National Journal by our old friend James Inhofe. It covers many of the same talking points while expanding on a number of the lies, such as using Christy as an authority to pretend that Carlin’s hodgepodge of pseudo-science “is widely shared within the scientific community.” And so on.
Utter contempt does not begin to describe the appropriate response to Inhofe, Peck, Kovacs and the CoC. Paradoxically I actually find myself wishing for a trial, one that really is open, transparent and fair. I have no doubt that “contempt” is a word that will occur to the judge as well, and with any luck it will include massive financial penalties, even prison terms.
“Many of America’s most important commercial crops require between 400 and 1800 hours each winter when the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.” Earth Gauge
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
Denier “Challenge” aka Deathwatch Update: Day 310 … still no evidence.
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