There is much I could say about the hearing today. Apparently parts of it were on C-Span and will be replayed, and I think the streaming video is available for anyone who wants to subject themselves to four hours inside the sausage factory . . . .
For me the most interesting set of exchanges illustrated exactly the dynamics I discussed in my prepared testimony (available here in PDF). First, Representative McCollum spent some time getting NASA’s Drew Shindell on record explaining that the views of Soon and Baliunas (two scientists who wrote a controversial paper cited by the White House in opposition to the findings of the IPCC) did not and could not overturn the IPCC consensus. (I completely agree with this point.) Dr. Shidell gave in far to easy (and contributed) to the discussion that because the scientists in question had the wrong degrees, that they need not be taken seriously. (I disagree with that – science should be judged on its merits.)
Then, Rep. Welch, apparently not even appreciating the irony, took issue with my invocation in my testimony of the WMO consensus statement on tropical cyclones, which has recently been endorsed by the AMS Executive Council. I pointed out that the Committee’s background memo was highly selective in its presentation of hurricane science, which seems fairly obvious, but which they apparently did not like me doing. He claimed that they had just emailed Judy Curry and Michael Mann, and they had written back, apparently both taking issue with the WMO Consensus! In fact, according to Mr. Welch Dr. CUrry’s and Dr. Mann’s views are more representative of the state of the science than that expressed by the WMO. (Judy and Mike are welcome to share their emails to the Committee here if they’d like.) Surprise, surprise – they could find some experts who disagreed with the WMO consensus!
Did he not see that he was doing the exact same thing that Rep. McCollum was criticizing the White House for? I tried to point out this irony, not sure if I made the point very well. (Dr. Shindell illustrated that he doesn’t know much about the hurricane community when he asserted that Michael Mann is a leading hurricane/climate scientist whose views should be taken over the WMO, but maybe he misspoke or I misheard.) I stick to my views, as if there is any area of science I know well it is the hurricane/climate debate.
Henry Waxman tried to salvage the exchange by pointing out that I am in fact a “political scientist” so what the hell do I know about hurricanes anyway;-) Hey, if you can’t win on the facts attack the man. I believe that strategy speaks for itself quite loudly.
I am not sure what Mr. Waxman thinks he accomplished with this hearing other further politicizing the issue of science politicization. The whole exercise seems to prove that the politicization of science is endemic, as I argued in my testimony. If Mr. Waxman was interested in actually improving policies governing science he’d haul down agency press officers and those responsible for the process of approving government reports to focus on actual processes. The repeated calls for science and politics to be separate are just empty exhortations without discussion of actual policies.