This is both my personal learning project and my contribution in the struggle to confront the ongoing Republican/ libertarian assault on rational science and constructive learning, as manifested in their malicious strategic Attacks on Science ~ A collection of articles, scientific resources, plus my own essays and indepth critique of various presentations from unidirectional-skeptics ~ Hopefully a resource for the busy, yet discerning, student who's concerned about the health of our Earth
BatesMotel#2 - US Rep Lamar Smith - Follow the money. A collection.
This is a tour de force of sorts, that is if you like collections of valuable information. In particular background information for who this US Representative Lamar Smith is and why he's the darling and good servant to the Texas oil aristocracy.
No commentary simply a sampling of articles and quotes. First related to US Representative Lamar Smith, chairman of the House “Science” Committee. Then to the people who own him and a peek behind the curtain of the only constituency that matters in Rep Smith’s pay to play world.
…How did things get to this point? For the past 18 months, Smith has waged a very public assault on NSF’s storied peer-review system. He’s issued a barrage of press releases that ridicule specific awards, championed legislation that would alter NSF’s peer-review system and slash funding for the social science programs that have supported much of the research he has questioned, and berated NSF officials for providing what he considers to be inadequate explanations of their funding decisions.
NSF has defended itself at congressional hearings, in personal meetings with committee staff and the chair, and with a stream of letters and e-mails. …
… What the science committee expects to learn from its investigation is a burning question from scientists. A committee representative declined to answer repeated queries about the criteria used to select the grants. In his written statement to ScienceInsider, Smith said only that “there are many grants that no taxpayer would consider in the national interest, or worthy of how their hard-earned dollars should be spent. … The public deserves an explanation for why the NSF has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on musicals about climate change, bicycle designs, and a video game that allows users to relive prom night.” …
… Johnson certainly seems prepared to continue defending NSF and, in particular, its funding of the social sciences. “This campaign against NSF’s merit-review system is indefensible absent some compelling explanation of what you are trying to accomplish,” she tells Smith in her 30 September letter. “If your ultimate goal is to cut funding for social and behavioral sciences …I respect your right to try to make that case as Chairman. But please do not compromise the integrity of NSF’s merit review system as part of this campaign.”
Let’s all let Sarah Palin decide what is scientifically valid and what is not, shall we? Sound like a bad idea to you?
Well, it sounds like a grand idea to House of Representatives Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas. According to Science Insider, the Texas Rep has drafted a bill requiring all National Science Foundation grants to pass a rigorous political review to determine if the research is “in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science.” Smith is also one of the principal “architects” for the House version of SOPA. So… there’s that.
In whose interest and by what standard do we measure “the interests” of the United States? Would studying something like or somehow related to evolution be ok? Or should our nation’s scientists delve into the abyss of creationism? Does every grant in the National Science Foundation’s queue need to get rewritten every time there is a new majority in the House? The Senate? A new party in the White House?
The route to this wonderworld of science-as-policy is as drearily predictable as it is fundamentally flawed. The vehicle, of course, is money: …
The Adherents.com website is an independent project and is not supported by or affiliated with any organization (academic, religious, or otherwise).
What’s an adherent?
The most common definition used in broad compilations of statistical data is somebody who claims to belong to or worship in a religion. This is the self-identification method of determining who is an adherent of what religion, and it is the method used in most national surveys and polls.
Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person’s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There’s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.
Source: Adherents.com web site 00-ADH3 on Nov 7, 2000
Recognize Christianity's importance to western civilization.
Smith co-sponsored recognizing Christianity's importance to western civilization
Smith is a member House Republican Young Guns
Smith is a member the Tea Party movement
Smith signed the Contract with America:
As Republican Members of the House of Representatives and as citizens seeking to join that body, we propose not just to change its policies, but to restore the bounds of trust between the people and their elected representatives. That is why, in this era of official evasion and posturing, we offer instead a detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has a long track record of climate change denial. And under his leadership, the committee has spent more time holding hearings on the existence of extraterrestrial life than it has examining climate science or the repercussions of global climate change.
The House and Senate have held a combined 19 hearings on space exploration during the 113th Congress, according to a report Wednesday in the National Journal. Smith’s committee alone has organized 15 of those hearings, including three that focused on discovering alien life.
Meanwhile, Smith’s committee has held just two hearings dedicated to climate change.
The Washington Post writes today about a long-running feud between die-hard climate-denier Lamar Smith and pretty much anyone who says that climate change is real:
The flash point in the feud between House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a congressional subpoena. The congressman, a prominent global warming skeptic, is demanding that the government turn over its scientists’ internal exchanges and communications with NOAA’s top political appointees.
Smith believes this information, showing the researchers deliberative process, will prove that they altered data to fit President Obama’s climate agenda when they refuted claims in a peer-reviewed study in the journal Science that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the last decade.
“These are government employees who changed data to show more climate change,” the chairman said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Americans deserve to understand why this decision was made. Despite what some critics claim, the subpoena is not only about scientists. Political operatives and other NOAA employees likely played a large role in approving NOAA’s decision to adjust data that allegedly refutes the hiatus in warming.”
Over the last few years, harassment of climate scientists via subpoenas and FOIA requests for every email they've ever written has become the go-to tactic of climate skeptics and deniers. The purpose is twofold. First, it intimidates scientists from performing climate research. Who needs the grief? Second, it provides a chance to find something juicy and potentially embarrassing in the trove of emails.
In the case of Lamar Smith vs. NOAA, the key fact is this: Smith has no reason to think the scientists in question have done anything wrong. None. He doesn't even pretend otherwise. He has simply asserted that it's "likely" that politics played a role in "adjusting" the climate data. But at no time has he presented any evidence at all to back this up.
This is a pretty plain abuse of congressional subpoena power, …
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the new chair of the House Science and Technology Committee, wrote an op-ed in Monday’s Washington Post that contains several misrepresentations of fact. He argued for increased fossil fuel production, against the scientific consensus that humans cause climate change, and for a “wait-and-see” approach to cutting carbon emissions.
Smith opened with a general appeal for a clear discussion of the facts: “Climate change is an issue that needs to be discussed thoughtfully and objectively. Unfortunately, claims that distort the facts hinder the legitimate evaluation of policy options.”
However, with a look at his record, Rep. Smith did not have such a clear discussion in mind. …
… He has criticized “the idea of human-made global warming.” More dangerously, he has made headlines for authoring legislation that would politicize research conducted by the National Science Foundation. …
…force the approval of the Keystone tar sands pipeline, Rep. Smith argued … would not decrease carbon emissions.
This just isn’t true. …
Smith went on to argue “that U.S. emissions contribute very little to global concentrations of greenhouse gas.”
In fact, annual U.S. carbon emissions rank just behind China’s, despite having only a quarter of China’s population. …
Rep. Smith made the case that “global temperatures have held steady over the past 15 years, despite rising greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Chair of the House Science Committee called out “unscientific and often hyperbolic claims” about the impacts of a warming climate. He cited experts that ostensibly claimed that Superstorm Sandy had nothing to do with climate change.
However, experts in the field explain that climate change makes hurricanes and Nor’Easters like Superstorm Sandy more powerful and more destructive. …
… It is not just the increased ocean and atmospheric temperatures that can make storms more intense, however. A recent article in Oceanography Journal found that the melting and receding Arctic ice also amplifies storms like Sandy. …
Fixing the Problem
Smith said that the EPA “proposed emissions standards that virtually prohibit new coal-fired power plants.” He goes on to say that regulating carbon emissions from power plants will “raise both electricity rates and gas prices — costing jobs and hurting the economy.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is required to regulate carbon because the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. EPA regulations actually help the economy and create jobs. …
Slowing Down Progress
Smith concludes that we are “pursuing heavy-handed regulations” on climate change and urges everyone to “take a step back from the unfounded claims of impending catastrophe and think critically about the challenge before us.”
There have been thousands of experts thinking critically about the reality of climate change, and their overwhelming conclusion is that emissions need to be reined in. Not eventually, but right now.
Smith may benefit from protecting the biggest carbon emitters — he has accepted more than half a million dollars from the oil and gas industry — but the rest of the country, and the world, cannot afford to wait.
Representative Lamar Smith is little more than a sycophant for the oil oligarch that grew out of Texas. Under educated men, who made more money than god and starting thinking they were as smart as god. Unfortunately, they are not. Our society is already starting to pay the price for their hubris and the grand fraud against sanity and humanity they have perpetrated. Thus we'll now drift into the forces behind this grand deception.
The Republican War on Science first came out in hardcover in the fall of 2005, I wish I could say that since those days, the situation I denounced in such strong terms (read the original introduction from 2005 here) had at least slightly improved. Yet if anything, I fear it may have grown worse. The attacks on science, and their sponsorship by Republican politicians, continue apace, with the Bush administration leading the way but key members of Congress following close behind. These politicians, in turn, appear driven by a continual need to appease key sectors of the Republican base that have inconvenient slices of scientific information constantly in their sights. …
NOT JUST THE KOCH BROTHERS: NEW DREXEL STUDY REVEALS FUNDERS BEHIND THE CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL EFFORT
“The real issue here is one of democracy. Without a free flow of accurate information, democratic politics and government accountability become impossible,” said Brulle. “Money amplifies certain voices above others and, in effect, gives them a megaphone in the public square. Powerful funders are supporting the campaign to deny scientific findings about global warming and raise public doubts about the roots and remedies of this massive global threat. At the very least, American voters deserve to know who is behind these efforts.”
When it comes to climate science denial, some names come easily and deservingly to mind.
There's oil giant ExxonMobil -- a company that contributed millions of dollars to organizations that told the public there was no risk from burning fossil fuels.
There are the oil billionaire Koch brothers -- Charles and David -- and their ideological zeal against government regulations that drove them to pour vast amounts into groups spreading doubt on the realities of human-caused global warming.
But a name that has not yet reached those heights of climate science denial infamy -- but likely should -- is the Mercer family.
Who Are the Mercers?
A DeSmog analysis of Federal Electoral Commission returns shows Robert Mercer, the reclusive hedge fund manager, has donated $30.1 million to politics since January 2015 (a further $2.3 million has come from daughter Rebekah and wife Diana).
Some $15 million of Robert Mercer's money went into the Make America Number 1 super-PAC that was headed by Rebekah Mercer and that bankrolled the final months of Donald Trump's campaign. One source told The Hill: "The Mercers basically own this campaign.” …
link to read the full article
Koch Industries multibillionaire Koch brothers bankroll attacks on climate change science and policy
Some of the most determined opponents of action on climate change in the U.S. are so-called libertarians, motivated by an ideological commitment to minimal government and “free market” laissez-faire capitalism. Their efforts on behalf of unregulated corporate wealth and power have been funded heavily by patrons in the fossil fuel industry.
While ExxonMobil has drawn much attention for its patronage of global warming denialist activity by such groups, much less public attention has been paid to the activities of the multibillionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries. Koch Industries is the second largest private company in the U.S., with estimated 2008 revenues of $100 billion.
Started as a petroleum business by their father Fred Koch, who was also a founder of the right-wing extremist John Birch Society, Koch Industries has become a diversified enterprise that funds large-scale lobbying and a range of libertarian policy and activist groups that play a significant role in the global warming denial machine.
Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, has provided funds to a network of individuals, scientists, non-profits and political organizations espousing climate change denial and opposition to efforts to tackle climate change, according to newly available documents reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch).
Who Received Peabody Cash?
* Willie Soon. According to the list, prominent and controversial climate change denial scientist Willie Wei-Hock Soon has received cash from Peabody.
Soon, who is not actually a Climate Scientist but an Aerospace Engineer, works for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and espouses the widely discredited position that it is sun spots and not CO2 that is a major driver of change in the climate.
He is known to have received significant funds from the fossil fuel industry for his work in the past, including from ExxonMobil and Southern Company.
But this is the first known support from Peabody Energy for Soon, whose role with the Smithsonian Institute has proven to be quite controversial.
Who else is financially tied to Peabody?
* The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which recently released a film—"Climate Hustle"—spreading disinformation about climate change. Its position is that increased CO2 is "beneficial" to plant growth and therefore a good thing for the planet.
* Similar views on climate change are promoted by numerous other groups that have received funds from Peabody, including the Center For The Study Of Carbon Dioxide And Global Change. The group’s founder, current Chairman and former President, Craig Idso told an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference in 2011: "CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a benefit. It is the very elixir of life."
* ALEC is another recipient of Peabody funding. Peabody sits on the ALEC corporate board, participates in the Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force, and according to the bankruptcy filings it has provided funding for numerous other ALEC events and "scholarship funds" to bring state legislators to ALEC conferences and events. A lobbyist from Peabody Energy told legislators at a ALEC conference that it is seeking "guerrilla warfare" against the EPA. ALEC has long promoted climate change denial at its annual meetings and through its "model" legislation.
* The State Policy Network (SPN), a network of corporate funded think tanks at the state level, which works to promote an agenda closely tied to that of ALEC on a range of issues.
SPN and its member think tanks have increasingly been active opposing action to tackle climate change at the state level, in particular in opposition to the Obama-administration’s Clean Power Plan.
Hundreds of arguments were made by deniers attempting to refute the scientific consensus on global warming. All of these arguments have been refuted by climate scientists, as can be seen at sites such as SkepticalScience.com.
To summarise the situation, Clive Hamilton, in his book Scorcher, says that one can find the following arguments in the various papers promoted by climate change deniers:
•There is no evidence of global warming.
•If there is evidence of global warming, then it is not due to human activity.
•If global warming is occurring and it is due to human activity, then it is not going to be damaging.
•If global warming is occurring and it is due to human activity, and it is going to be damaging, then the costs of avoiding it are too high, so we should do nothing.
For the average climate science denier in the street (and there are a lot of them on some streets), there is often little correlation between the vehemence of their denials and the so-called "facts" at their disposal. The average Chuck is like Chuck Norris, who has claimed that climate science is a "trick". Not an innocent mistake, not a systemic bias, but a premeditated fraud.
Climate science denial needs disinformation to survive, but it has its feet firmly planted in a part of American culture. That culture draws on lots of different sources. But if you want to understand it, you need to understand something about America's religious landscape.
Take a look at some of the most recent initiatives in the climate science denial wars. In Louisiana, Tennessee, New Hampshire and other states, legislatures have either passed or put forward bills intended to disinform secondary-school students about climate science. Sure, they paper over the assault on education with claims that they only want to teach "both sides" of the issue and encourage "critical thinking". But, as leaked documents made clear in at least one instance, the ultimate purpose is to produce a young generation of "skeptics" whose views on climate science will happily coincide with those of the fossil fuel industry.
Analysis of bankruptcy court documents reveals Peabody Energy funding climate denial that span trade associations, lobby groups, and industry front groups.
Over the past few weeks, analysis of Peabody Energy’s bankruptcy documents has revealed that the world’s largest private-sector coal company has financial ties dozens of trade associations, corporate lobbying groups, and industry-backed front groups all promoting disinformation around climate change science and renewable energy.
It remains to be seen how much money Peabody has given to other organizations doubting global warming, fighting the Clean Power Plan, and working to undermine the deployment of renewable energy. The following organizations are listed as current creditors …
After Donald Trump selected Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, ExxonMobil's chief executive was lauded by some in the media and climate policy experts as a possible moderating voice on climate change in a Trump administration where denial is shaping up to be orthodoxy. As chief of the nation's diplomacy, Tillerson will shepherd U.S. climate efforts abroad.
Many cited Exxon's acceptance that climate change poses significant risks, support of the Paris climate agreement and a carbon tax as reasons for their guarded optimism. But Exxon's actions and Tillerson's own off-the-cuff comments belie the official communications. The company has a long record of funding climate denial (which continued under Tillerson) and is under investigation for potentially defrauding investors by failing to tell them that it knew decades ago of the risks climate change posed to the bottom line.
Tillerson has also overseen an expansion of Exxon's investment in developing Alberta's tar sands, some of the most carbon-heavy fuel in the world.
InsideClimate News has spent almost two years looking into Exxon's workings and has written dozens of stories on the company. Here's what we've learned about Tillerson and Exxon.
Under Tillerson's leadership, has Exxon accepted the reality of climate change?
Exxon boss: climate change is ‘real’ and ‘serious’
The company is accused of ignoring its own climate change science for years.
Tillerson’s comments come amidst accusations that Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest listed oil and gas company, for years ignored company scientists who warned about climate change as early as 1977. The company has also been accused of funding climate science denial groups. Since the story broke in 2015, multiple state attorneys general, led by New York AG Eric Schneiderman, and organizations have subpoenaed the company to give investigators 40 years of documents on research findings and communications about climate change. …
Who is Bankrolling the Climate Change Counter-Movement?
Inauguration update: Since we first published this piece, two things have happened. One, Donald Trump was duly elected to be the 45th President of the United States of America. Two, both his cabinet and the angry orange one himself have continued to spout some profoundly anti-scientific things.
Several decades ago, the Republican Party that he is now the de facto leader of was, believe it or not, fairly pro-science. However, spurred on by its support of the fossil fuel energy industry, it rapidly shifted into a political organization that considers climate change nothing more than lies fabricated by conspiring scientists and environmental zealots.
When asked which government departments he would eliminate to save money, he told Fox News: “Oh absolutely. The Department of Environmental, I mean the DEP is killing us… environmentally. It’s just killing our businesses.”
As pointed out by Stephen Colbert, the DEP doesn’t exist, and even if it did, the P in that acronym doesn’t actually stand for anything. Presumably, Trump was referring to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which aims to conserve the natural world, keep water and air quality high, and to protect human health – clearly, things that Trump doesn’t care about. …
The Donald also seems to firmly believe that vaccines cause autism. This is a thoroughly debunked idea that gained steam thanks to the unscrupulous Andrew Wakefield, who published a paper in the Lancet falsely linking the condition with the MMR jab, and Trump seems to use his own anecdotal evidence to corroborate this viewpoint. …
Trump has proudly declared multiple times that he doesn’t need much sleep at all. “You know, I’m not a big sleeper,” Trump said in November 2016. “I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out what’s going on.”
Research has shown that this little sleep reduces a person’s ability to think rationally, to control their emotions, and to even distinguish between moral and immoral choices. Their long-term memory is severely hampered. One study shows that around 18 hours without sleep impairs your cognitive functioning so much that you might as well be inebriated.
So if Trump genuinely only sleeps for three hours a night, then he’ll essentially be constantly drunk as he makes world-changing decisions in the White House. Drunk Trump, with his finger on the nuclear button – “mortifying” doesn’t even come close.
Remarkably, Trump doesn’t think the Earth is flat, or that the Moon landings didn’t happen. However, he doesn’t seem that keen on NASA’s attempts to conquer the stars, even if he did refer to NASA as “wonderful” in a recent Reddit AMA. …
A Wall of Ignorance
So, Trump has won the ultimate prize. From January 20, we are all in deep trouble. It’s hard to tell how much of these standpoints he actually buys into, and how many he’s been saying just to generate buzz amongst his supporters.
As we wrote back in November, Trump is a unique threat to America’s scientific legacy. He’s set to do plenty of damage, but you are not powerless to stop him. …