Ted Cruz grills Sierra Club president with a fire hose of denial.

When Going Up Against a Fire Hose of Climate Change Denial, You Need to Be Prepared

When Going Up Against a Fire Hose of Climate Change Denial, You Need to Be Prepared

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 8 2015 9:30 AM

When Denial Attacks: Ted Cruz vs. Reality

Ted Cruz
Is it hot in there, or is it just the entire freaking planet?

Photo by Ted Cruz, from the video

It’s like GOP presidential hopeful and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stepped right out of George Orwell’s 1984

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

On Tuesday he was on a Senate subcommittee hearing about government regulation. Among the people giving testimony was the president of the Sierra Club, Aaron Mair. I’m a fan of the Sierra Club; my wife and I have donated to them many times over the years.

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Toward the end of the hearing, Cruz started grilling Mair on one part of his testimony, where Mair said, “That people of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by pollution, and climate disruption should not be up for debate any more so than the science behind climate change itself.”

That, of course, set Cruz off. In a typical denier fashion, he lights into Mair about this, starting off with this:

I’m curious: Is the Sierra Club, is this a frequent practice to declare areas of science not up for debate, not up for consideration of what the evidence and data show?

This is Denial 101, to make it sound like scientists are closed minded. In fact, the exact opposite is true: It is due to the overwhelming evidence and data that scientists are so sure that global warming is real, and caused by human activity. And it’s the people like Ted Cruz—by the way, Cruz got a $15 million check from the fossil fuel magnates Farris and Dan Wilks earlier this year—who have closed their minds to this evidence and data, instead cherry-picking, misinterpreting, or outright dismissing anything that disagrees with their denial.

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Watch for yourself, if you can stomach it.

Cruz makes claims so wrong and so long-debunked that I won’t go into detail giving them the evisceration they deserve. Instead, Inigo Montoya–like, I’ll sum up:

Cruz Climate Claim: “The 97 percent consensus paper has been discredited.”

Reality: Nope. As usual when it comes to denial claims, the discrediting has itself been discredited. In fact, the consensus may even be higher than 97 percent, higher even than 99 percent.

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Cruz Climate Claim: “Satellite data shows no significant warming over the past 18 years.”

Reality: Nope. Also, nope, nope, nope, and nope. Even the mildest effort can add a lot more “nopes” to that series.

It’s too bad they don’t make senators swear in before they hold hearings.

The thing is, I expect that sort of execrable dumbosity from Cruz. I mean, come on, this is the guy who went on Seth Meyers’ late night talk show and claimed that—and I really wish I were making this up—because it’s cold somewhere, global warming must be wrong.

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So I can’t say I’m surprised by Cruz.

head in the sand
Who knew Congressional hearings had such a big sandbox?

Photo by Shutterstock/alphaspirit

No, what’s so upsetting here is how Mair responded. I’m not sure what he was expecting, or how he and his team readied for the hearing, but he was apparently unprepared for the onslaught of misinformation from Cruz, as well as his persistence.

Watching Cruz grill Mair is like watching a septic tank cleaning truck getting into an accident. You know you’re seeing a lot of crap flying everywhere, but you can’t look away.

If Mair had been in an honest conversation with someone he might have done fine, but he was facing someone who long ago chucked reality out the window. With that sort of disadvantage, all Mair could manage to do was repeat himself several times that the Sierra Club sides with the scientists on the issue. But of course this is red meat to Cruz, who clearly is not a fan of science or scientists. He pressed his advantage over and again, and all Mair could do was flail.

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Worse, when Cruz asked him to describe the so-called pause, all Mair could say was that it referred to a slowing of global warming in the 1940s. That’s not even right; the 1940s are arguably when the land and ocean temperatures were much warmer than normal for the first time in decades.

I found myself wishing I were there. I know, it’s easy to be an armchair quarterback, but when Cruz said:

And I assume the Sierra Club would issue a public retraction if confronted with the facts that the data are precisely as I described that over the last 18 years there has been no significant warming and indeed that is why global warming alarmists invented the term “the pause” to explain what they called the pause in global warming because the data demonstrate what you just said, that the Earth is cooking and warming, is not back up by the data.

… all I could think was how I wish I Mair had turned it right back around on him, telling Cruz he was grossly wrong; that the data conclusively and obviously show the Earth has been and still is warming, that “the pause” is just a statistical effect, unreal, and that the clear trend is that the Earth is getting hotter.

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The huge irony is this: Imagine Mair had asked Cruz if he would issue a public retraction if he were confronted with the facts. The facts that the Earth is still warming up, that oceans are heating up, that sea levels are rising, that the ice caps are melting, that the greenhouse gas CO2 is being dumped into our air to the tune of 40 billion tons every year, and so much more?

Do you really, honestly think Cruz will ever admit that? Or Inhofe? Or Trump, or Carson, or, or, or?

Here is your modern GOP politician, folks. Deny, deny, deny, and when called on it, deny some more and accuse your opponent of what you yourself are doing.

Orwell couldn’t have written Cruz’s words any more concisely.

Tip o' the thermometer to Evlondo Cooper of the Checks and Balances Project.