Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Government retweets

Remember what I said about how every time I think things in our government have reached the absolute nadir, someone just raises the nadir-bar?

Witness the fact that the official Twitter account for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology just two days ago retweeted a slanted, cherry-picked, and otherwise fallacy-filled climate denialism piece called "Global Temperatures Plunge, Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists" that appeared in...

... Breitbart.

Yes, Breitbart, the "news" source that astronomer and blogger Phil Plait calls a "racist, misogynistic ├╝ber-right-wing site that calls itself a voice for the 'alt-right' movement" and Slate senior editor Jeremy Stahl said is composed of "neo-Nazis in suits and ties."

Needless to say, the Breitbart article is full of half-truths and outright lies.  Its author, James Delingpole, is one of the worst of the climate change deniers, and apparently will say or do anything up to and including manipulating data to convince people that what we're doing isn't endangering the long-term habitability of the Earth.  Plait has taken on Delingpole before, and sums up his argument (if I can dignify it by that name) that scientists have no idea why the climate is undergoing wild swings as being "like seeing a corpse with a bullet wound to the head and saying 'Except for the bullet wound to the head, you cannot come up with a convincing explanation why this person is dead.'"

This bit isn't anything new, of course.  No matter how sound the science is, there will always be people who will cover their eyes and pretend the evidence doesn't exist.  (Explaining why we still have people who claim that there's no good evidence for evolution.)  But this has taken on a new and sinister twist, now that we have elected officials -- hell, an entire committee -- that see fit to distribute this horseshit as if it has any scientific validity at all.

[image courtesy of NASA]

It would be appalling enough if it was any congressional committee, but the fact that it is the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology moves it out past "appalling" into that rarified stratum that can only be labeled "horrifying."  The people in government who are overseeing funding and regulation for science research are not only denying the actual science, they are contributing to the general misunderstanding of science by the citizenry by sending out links on social media from fringe websites with no credibility whatsoever.

Or, as Plait put it, "The stakes here are as high as they can get.  Climate denialism by Breitbart now gets the imprimatur of the federal government."

So once again, let me reiterate: the scientists themselves are in no doubt whatsoever that climate change is real, and is anthropogenic in origin.  Any doubt about that was laid to rest over ten years ago.  What they are still unsure about is how high the temperatures could get, how quickly they'll get there, and when the predicted outcomes (such as the collapse of the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland) will happen.

But in doubt about the warm-up itself?  No.  You only hear that from people like the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Lamar Smith, who as of 2015, had received over $600,000 in donations from the fossil fuels industry.

So I encourage you to get in touch with the members of the committee, especially those of you who live in the districts they represent.  They are:

Republican Members (22)
Democratic Members (17)
Lamar Smith, Texas*
Frank D. Lucas, Oklahoma**
F. James Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin+
Dana Rohrabacher, California
Randy Neugebauer, Texas
Michael T. McCaul, Texas
Mo Brooks, Alabama
Randy Hultgren, Illinois
Bill Posey, Florida
Thomas Massie, Kentucky
Jim Bridenstine, Oklahoma
Randy Weber, Texas
John R. Moolenaar, Michigan
Steve Knight, California
Brian Babin, Texas
Bruce Westerman, Arkansas
Barbara Comstock, Virginia
Gary Palmer, Alabama
Barry Loudermilk, Georgia
Ralph Lee Abraham, Louisiana
Darin LaHood, Illinois
Warren Davidson, Ohio

*Full Committee Chair
+Chairman Emeritus
**Vice Chair/Committee
Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas++
Zoe Lofgren, California
Daniel Lipinski, Illinois
Donna Edwards, Maryland
Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon
Eric Swalwell, California
Alan Grayson, Florida
Ami Bera, California
Elizabeth Esty, Connecticut
Marc Veasey, Texas
Katherine Clark, Massachusetts
Don Beyer, Virginia
Ed Perlmutter, Colorado
Paul Tonko, New York
Mark Takano, California
Bill Foster, Illinois

++Full Committee

If you do, keep it brief, keep it science-related, and keep it polite.  But let them know that it is unequivocally wrong to persist in this denial of accepted, evidence-based science, especially given the potential consequences.  I don't expect you to convince Lamar -- money talks, after all -- but maybe if a little pressure is brought to bear, at least they'll stop retweeting Breitbart.

1 comment:

  1. Lol. We're going to colonize the solar system under a Trump administration. screw this planet we will annex some better ones.