On Wednesday, John Holdren appeared before the Republican-led House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Dr. Holdren is an alumnus of MIT and Stanford University and currently serves as President Obama’s Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, but that did not deter the House Committee from treating him with palpable, smirking disdain.
The Committee was convened to discuss President Obama’s climate action plan, including the EPA’s proposal to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. by 30 percent. Even if past hearings hadn’t devolved into Republicans mocking Holdren and the “science” he represents, the OSTP Director could not have expected a fruitful outcome from this confrontation, affectionately titled “The Administration’s Climate Plan: Failure by Design.”
Remember, this is the same Committee in which Representative Randy Weber (R-TX) jokingly asked Dr. Holdren for his cellphone number because, “if we go through another few cycles of global warming and cooling, I may need to ask you when I should buy my long coat on sale.” That was in March when the Committee questioned Holdren on Obama’s 2015 federal budget.
The Republican-dominated Committee continued with questions and jokes in much the same vein, to the point that California Democrat Eric Swalwell finally exclaim, “I have to say that, frankly, Dr. Holdren, at this point you should be prepared to address whether the Earth is round or flat, or whether indeed gravity is happening. You just never know what could fly at you.”
Wednesday’s hearing was no different. Though it was ostensibly meant to discuss Obama’s climate plan, it once more devolved into Republicans telling Holdren that they just didn’t cotton to this whole “science” thing.
Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) asked Holdren why climate scientists didn’t account for “global wobbling” in their climate models. Stockman’s impression was that global wobbling had ended the last Ice Age.
Holdren explained that global wobbling happens on such a grand timescale (between 22,000 and 100,000 years) that it doesn’t impact the relatively faster effects of climate change. Holdren added that, according to previous wobbles, the planet should be entering a new cooling period, but “the warming inflicted by human activities has overwhelmed the effect of global wobbling.”
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), unable to wipe the permanent smile off his face, asked at what level CO2 becomes hazardous to human health.
“We are not interested in carbon dioxide concentrations because of their direct effect on human health,” said Holdren, “we are interested in them because of their effect on the world’s climate, and climate change has effects on human health.”
Holdren attempted to go into detail about the long-term dangers of carbon dioxide emissions, but Rohrabacher was happy to conclude his line of questioning. “So let’s go for the record that you have now agreed there is no direct impact on human health by CO2,” he said.
“And a huge indirect impact,” added Holdren.
In his own line of questioning, Representative Larry Buchson (R-IN) could not even pretend to care about climate change evidence.
Asking about the President’s carbon reduction plan, Buchson asked, “Is it true that this rule has no effect on the global temperature change? There’s a public comment out there that that question has been asked and answered saying no.”
“You should look at the scientific literature,” Holdren began before being interrupted, “rather than the public comments…”
“Of all the climatologists whose careers depend on the climate changing to keep themselves publishing articles?” said Buchson. “Yes, I could read that, but I don’t believe it.”