Rep. Lamar Smith: Climate change and the scientific method - we should welcome new research, not resist it

Climate alarmism has become the chant of the media and liberals who favor more government regulations. As Chairman of the House Science Committee, I have challenged the alarmist rhetoric and pursued the facts about climate change.

The Committee follows the scientific method, which welcomes critiques, avoids exaggerated predictions, and relies on unbiased data. Unfortunately, alarmists ignore all these principles.

Those of us who subscribe to the scientific method by questioning assertions are wrongly labeled “climate denier.” So much for welcoming critiques.

While I have never denied that the climate is changing, I have asked tough questions about how much the climate has changed and how much of an impact humans have had on the climate. Furthermore, I have supported technological innovation, rather than costly federal regulations and mandates, as the solution to a changing climate.

On the other hand, climatologist Dr. Stephen Schneider has said, “…we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” His message is clear: never express doubt and never accept any critiques. And the Los Angeles Times refuses to publish opinion pieces from anyone the paper deems a “denier.” The paper should present both sides of controversial issues, not just their side.

Climate alarmists seek to silence those whose research raises doubts. Instead of claiming that “the science is settled,” alarmists should welcome new research that furthers the science of climate change.

Instead of claiming that “the science is settled,” alarmists should welcome new research that furthers the science of climate change.

Alarmists also violate the second tenant of the scientific method, avoiding exaggerated predictions.

Since the late 1970s, climate scientists have told the American people that global temperatures would increase more than one degree Celsius by 2020. However, actual satellite temperature observations do not support these predictions. Observed temperatures were less than half as high as the climate models’ predictions. When the predictions are so far off, we should not make policy decisions based on them. Much more research into the complexity of changing temperatures is needed.

Furthermore, the idea that anyone can make precise predictions of what kind of climate will exist 85 or more years from now is laughable. There is simply no way to take into consideration climate variables or technological breakthroughs.

Commenting on the recent hurricanes, many climate scientists have tried to link these storms and climate change. But the historical record disproves them. Hurricane landfalls in the United States since 1900 are on a steady decline. The cost of damages from these storms, as a percentage of gross domestic product, is also shrinking. Even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has affirmed that they have “low confidence” in climate change contributing to extreme weather.

Examination of patterns of other extreme weather events in the United States shows that a changing climate does not increase the frequency of these events. For example, U.S. wildland fires are decreasing in frequency. The number of recorded fires in recent years is nearly one-fourth the number of fires observed in the 1970s. Climate alarmists just won’t let the facts get in the way of their science fiction.

The third tenant of the scientific method, reliance on unbiased data, is violated by climate alarmists who present the American people with suspect data to advance a political agenda.

For example, some claim that the Paris Climate Accord will reduce global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius. They have barraged the American people with this falsehood to garner support for the deal. But MIT data shows that the agreement would decrease warming only 0.16 degree Celsius by 2100 – over 80 years from now – and only if all 195 countries completely abided by the agreement.

While I am sure that the alarmists will continue to shout fire when there is none, I believe the American people will call their bluff and insist that the scientific method be followed. The way to address climate change is not by increasing regulations and taxes. The future lies with research and development. Forget the alarmists’ hysteria and look to technology and innovation to solve climate change challenges.