A Tale of Two Politicians

Lamar Smith is at it again. He penned an opinion piece for the San Antonio Express News to repeat his claims that climate scientists have “altered historical climate data to get politically correct results.” He just can’t wrap his tiny little mind around the fact that they improved the way data were processed to get scientifically better results, because scientifically better results undermine his political agenda — keep the fossil fuel companies (Lamar Smith’s biggest political contributors) happy.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has a strong statement on his website which tells the most important truth of the matter: that “the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into ignoring science.”

I have one quibble with the statement by Bernie Sanders: some politicians, like Lamar Smith, haven’t been bribed into ignoring science, but into actively denying it while accusing scientists.


26 responses to “A Tale of Two Politicians

  1. Indeed. The story is acquiring some mainstream legs, as NPR’s “Morning Edition” aired a piece on it this morning:


    About 600 scientists and engineers, including former employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have signed on to letters urging the head of that agency, Kathryn Sullivan, to push back against political interference in science.

    For months, Sullivan has been tangling with U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, as he investigates a climate change study done by NOAA scientists.

  2. The Democrats in Congress really should levy an ethics complaint.

  3. What has happened to this site? It used to be about data and facts but has somehow morphed into a mouthpiece for an ideological agenda running on nothing but puff pieces. C’mon, how about a genuine response to the data tampering claim. Compare the two data sets both pre- and post- adjustment. Explain the adjustments and show the resultant change in the trends that they show.

    [Response: That’s the kind of thing I’ve done many, many, many times. So have others. I’ll keep doing it — but not at the pace you decide.

    This blog is about more than expounding on science and statistics. It’s also about getting something done. That you consider it an “ideological agenda” based on “puff pieces” might be part of the problem.]

    • Dear Andy (if I may be allowed to get familiar, since it seems we share a name). Some of us like this site because it not just about data and facts, but about rational and humane discussion of what to do with/about those facts. And as Tamino indicates to you (firmly but politely IMHO), he is not saying anything that he has not previously well established with data and facts. I hope and trust that you are not partisan, and apply the need to take that approach to both sides in this (and any other) debate.

    • Personally I enjoy the way Tamino mixes technical competence with a willingness to discuss current political issues in climate change with an undisguised edge. He reminds me of some of the sharper colleagues I’ve enjoyed working with.

    • Note that this blog’s masthead banner reads:
      “Science, Politics, Life, the Universe, and Everything”

    • I’d say, all the information Andy is looking for is in the frikkin’ publication(s).

    • Mr. Smith has no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing any more than the “climategate” hackers did. There’s no “there” there. He simply doesn’t like the result and he doesn’t have the mental capacity to even begin to understand what these scientists do. Email correspondence won’t explain the kind of things you are asking to be explained, and my understanding is that the methodology HAS been explained. Smith just refuses to believe it.

  4. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

    …“the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into ignoring science.”


    • Result? We’re the only democracy in the world with a major political party that denies climate change.

      Doonesbury should take a holiday Down Under – he’d find another such country with just such a major political party, and several different fossil fuel industries pouring pennies into their pockets.

  5. I assume you all know about this escalation, but if not, Cruz in the Senate is following suit tomorrow (Tuesday, almost today)

    “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate”

    “U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing … on Tuesday, December 8 at 3 p.m. The hearing will focus on the ongoing debate over climate science, the impact of federal funding on the objectivity of climate research, and the ways in which political pressure can suppress opposing viewpoints in the field of climate science.”


    Dr. John Christy (an unskeptical “skeptic”)
    Dr. Judith Curry (wrote an Op Ed in favor of Rep. Lamar Smith’s inquisition in the House for Fox News)
    Dr. William Happer (isolated at Princeton with the few still denying simple physics)
    Mr. Mark Steyn (author, compared distinguished climate scientist Mike Mann to child molester Sandusky)


  6. Christy, Curry, Happer and Steyn are the A-team. Says a lot.

    Andy, just find three graphs.
    1) Non-adjusted vs adjusted temps (which one shows more warming?)
    2) Sat vs thermometers (how different are they?)
    3) Data from different scientific organisations (are they all tampering?)

    You dont need an analysis from Tamino to work the data tampering claim is nonsense.

  7. I feel this site is about telling the truth. Sometimes with numbers, sometimes with graphs, and sometimes in prose.

    The time for academic reticence is past. The time for fair and balanced discussion is over. People are either part of the solution or part of the problem. It is time to make that distinction very clear.

  8. Aside, lacking an open thread, this quote

    “There is no evidence that the long term trend is really much different to what it has been.” – Gavin

    is being used to argue against your discussion about the long term trend. Of course Gavin’s talking about the last couple of decades and the “hiatus” claims, not about the full record. But you can’t tell that from the quotes being posted out of context.

    By, guess who, of course, in this recent thread at http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=18914#comment-638853

    The RC folks don’t seem up to responding to the more persistent commenters there who keep posting the same claims for years. Thought you’d be at least amused to see how he’s spinning Gavin’s comments against yours.


    Don’t you wish we were all smarter?

  9. I googled “Tamino – Open Mind” and saw where WUWT and others have gone after this site and its author. The attacks on the scientific community are beyond belief. Too many people are uninformed and foolish and in some cases, downright dangerous. This is nothing more than bullying tactics/terrorism, however you want to frame it. I am thankful that we have brave and smart people like Tamino who continue to be rational and calm in spite of enormous pressure and relentless attacks,

  10. Terrorism? Seriously? That word used to have meaning.

  11. I kind of think maybe it’s bit different. I think right wing politicians have figured out, if they want big money backers for their campaigns, the best way to ensure they get it is to make some sort of grandiose stand denying climate change. So, I think it’s less a bribe and more a fundamental structure of GOP’s body politic. A sort of implied, institutionalized quid pro quo.

  12. Smith was correct that some “scientists” tell lies for money. He just missed the point that it was his fossil fuel industry friends that did did the bribing, and that it was ongoing and deliberate fraud on the part of the fossil fuel industry.

    Smith cannot understand the ethics of science. Smith’s ethics are those of lawyers and politicians, where one does the bidding of clients & constituents. For a lawyer or politician this means data is parsed for some element that supports his bidder’s position. He misses the point that science ethics require the best available version of the truth. For the scientist this means that every large database contains objective factual errors, and correcting those errors produces a more correct and useful version of the truth — not some element of the truth, but a more correct and useful truth. Since large databases have additional data continually added into them, new errors are also added. Thus, rooting out errors in large databases is an ongoing process, and a static, philosophic, perfect truth is never achieved. In climate policy, this can lead to paralysis by analysis.

    If there is any justice in heaven, then Smith’s Circle of Hell will require him to spend eternity trying to herd a team of scientists to a particular predetermined result.

  13. Follow the money:
    This is less specific, but an easier read. And talk about obvious: earnings to investment over 100:1 for lobbying dollars. It’s a doddle!

    These guys can’t get elected without the funding, so it’s not pretty.

  14. Jim Eager | December 9, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    Terrorism? Seriously? That word used to have meaning.

    I don’t know if this is “snark” or not but when Michael Mann is sent ‘white powder’ in the mail and you do a Google search and come up with this:

    What’s your definition of “terrorism”?