Voice of Reason


That wouldn’t be the voice of Ted Cruz. As chair of the senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, he held a hearing titled “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.” What’s blatantly obvious is that his only purpose was to deny climate science. The witnesses included denier William Happer, denier Judith Curry, denier John Christy, and denier Mark Steyn.

But one witness provided the voice of reason: Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (ret.). Unlike other witnesses, he showed intelligence, honesty, and class.

The deniers (including Cruz) harped on the so-called “pause” (the one that never happened), the satellite data (ignoring all the other data), and even managed to claim that sea level rise isn’t because of man-made climate change. It’s hard to imagine how they could get any crazier.

I’ll be posting more about this, especially the sea level issue.


50 responses to “Voice of Reason

  1. MightyDrunken

    I have wondered about the witness choice. Obviously I suppose that all the witnesses have been chosen by the Republicans, or just Cruz? If so I can see why three of them were chosen, who chose Dr. David Titley and why?

  2. Do you have a link to the hearing? Thx

  3. skeptictmac57

    Ugh! Cruz was interviewed this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition by Steve Inskeep. Inskeep pushed back as best he could, but got bulldozed by Cruz employing a Gish Gallop of denier tropes that would have been impossible to counter with any effectiveness.

    • I heard that interview. It made my blood boil, but I have a less charitable view of Mr. Inskeep. He came off to me as someone who was completely unprepared. But what really set me of was how unnecessary it all was. Why give air time at all to someone whose views are so demonstrably won’t? Frankly, I think NPR’s climate coverage has been and still is poor at best.

    • I heard that interview. It was definitely a Gish Gallop and Inskeep certainly let himself get steam rollered. To me he came off as someone who was unprepared. Another case, I think, of NPR not understating what is at stake and engaging in false balance.

      • I disagree with the false balance claim, but you are right that Steve Inskeep was not fully prepared and a bit naive. Old hands at this could have predicted that that would be a danger in trying to take on Cruz in such a venue.
        Only a pro debater and master of climate science in a long form format could get the best of a denier with such canned but rapid fire tropes.
        Cruz is no dummy, and crafty as hell when it comes to pushing ideological and quick to say but long to refute claims.

      • Yeah, I wish they’d followed it up with a quick interview with a scientist…almost any scientist to refute his lies. It would have been better if Steve had been able to bungle him with details about where the satellites live and what they measure but I know that’s asking a bit much…

  4. As an amateur who tries to respond to a whole lot of nonsense, I found Rabett’s post on the UAH TLT very helpful. Given that deniers wish to exclude all other temperature records, precise and expert information is useful:


    (included letter to Rep. Smith from Richard Eric Swanson)

    While I am only one voice among many, precise information about the particular meme being used to throw a smoke bomb over reality is always useful. Another recent one is that silly French mathematical society, which turns out to be not a million miles removed from old-style fascism (not the new US kind that is scary monsters for us all).

  5. Cruz, interviewed on NPR this morning, made it clear that he regards AGW as a liberal conspiracy to take over our lives through unbounded government regulation. As one commenter at the NPR website pointed out: “You can’t out-fact an ideology”.

  6. Happer was just outed by Greenpeace agreeing to lie to the public about climate science and to disregard any and all evidence that he finds to be inconvenient to his fossil fuel industry clients.

    These prominent deniers – the so-called scientists, the politicians, the dishonest ‘journalists’ etc. – aren’t in the least bit stupid, or deluded about the science. They know perfectly well that the views they espouse are false. They know perfectly well that the myths and lies and diversionary tactics that they trot out have been debunked countless times. How could they not know? They are deliberately lying to the public in order to delay action to combat AGW, for reasons of ideology, or greed, or votes, or whatever.

    They’re not honestly mistaken, they are liars, pure and simple, and they know exactly what they’re doing, and they don’t care about the potential consequences to vulnerable people around the world. They’re a disgrace to humanity.

  7. was Titley called by the Republicans or Democrats? Anybody know?

  8. If these deniers were at the helm of a passenger liner, would they choose not to take evasive action if there was an iceberg dead ahead? Let’s face it, there can be little doubt that the iceberg was not caused by us humans!

  9. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

    georghof | December 9, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Reply

    Do you have a link to the hearing? Thx

    YouTube of the Senate hearing:

    • THANK YOU! I looked yesterday but didn’t find this. I did watch the live stream of the hearing. I also downloaded and read the pdf files of four written testimony submissions (nothing was posted for Happer yesterday).

  10. Mark STEYN?? Based on what qualifications? His vast scientific experience? His wealth of peer-reviewed publications? It looks like Cruz dipped into the bottom of the sleaze bucket and dug himself out an A-1 propagandist — but as a “witness” to WHAT?

    God save us all from the killer clowns in Congress.

  11. Titley was called by the Democrats. I heard through the grapevine they tried to call on some climate scientists but none agreed or were able to make it (in part because the notice was very short – Cruz organized the hearing).

    • Titley did a really good job, though – he may not be an active climate scientist (ie with researches and publications on the subject) but he sure knows the stuff and – more importantly – is able to deliver it correctly.

      • Also, Republicans do not like to attack or smear servicemen, so he is problematic for them. The US Navy needs its weathermen. During WW2 they sailed off into a typhoon and suffered significant losses as a result. Bull Halsey was my Dad’s Admiral. Dad was in the 3rd worst defeat of the US Navy in WW2. Cobra, a typhoon killed almost as many sailors as were killed in the 3rd worst defeat. It’s a good example of what Titley meant in his comments about certainty on the battlefield. The Rear Admiral in charge of Dad’s task force would not allow his destroyers to shoot. He wanted eyes on the enemy. They had the enemy ships on radar in the dark of night, but the Rear Admiral wanted a visual report from the scout planes. He almost got everybody killed. There was not enough wind that night to allow the scout planes to take off, so they were not in the air in time to scout the battlefield. Apparently the old man did not trust new technology: radar… a model?

      • hmmm … for some reason it makes me think of William Gray …

  12. As per congressional ground rules, the minority Democrats were allowed to invite one witness.

  13. Typically, I believe, the party in power will have more witnesses, but the minority can certainly have more than one. I think they decided to give four witnesses and the R side enough rope, so to say. I pretty sure Titley was asked to appear by the minority. On Climate Etc., somebody from the other side lambasted Cruz for using graphs produced by Goddard. That’s called enough rope.

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      Was that where that screwy graph of raw – adjusted came from. I thought that looked much more like the time series rather than series differences.

  14. Christy, Curry, Happer and Steyn where called by the R’thugs, Titley by the Dems on the committee. That Cruz had to resort to Steyn means their barrel really is empty, as the rest of Team Stupid, such as it is, was busy melting down in Paris.

  15. It’s entirely possible that Cruz manipulated the process by giving the Republican witnesses notice long before the Democrats were informed about the hearings. Titley was added as a witness after all the Republican witnesses had been announced. I believe that Lamar Smith, who has used his power in the House to minimize Democratic rights, uses the same procedure.

    • Thanks for that cosmicomics. Gleick did a nice job of ‘talking back’ to Cruz’s claims. That’s pretty much what was going on in my own head (when it wasn’t exploding) this morning as I listened to the interview.
      The other bit that galled me was Cruz’s populist “mom waiting tables” red herring, without the slightest awareness that if things get as bad as those who would forgo action to limit Co2 would let it go, the impact on billions of innocent people in the future will make that fictional waitress’s problems seem like what they are: minor first world problems.

  16. Andy Lee Robinson

    The Republicans’ misrepresentation of the evidence is so extreme that it should classify as contempt.
    I guess they sailed as close to the wind as they could, but even so, it should be reviewed.

  17. Right after the 1997 El Nino, West Coast sea level went down see http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=9415144, but it will rise again with the 2015 El Nino. see http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=9414290

    This may be an argument that is made easier by collecting another 2 months worth of West Coast sea level data.

    This winter, i expect the sea level of the SF Bay and Delta to be a full meter above the sea level of when many of the old dikes and levees were built. Add tides and storm waves on top of that, and a number of the old dikes and Levees are likely to fail.

    I would not call this “cherry picking”, I would call it “seasonal harvest”. I think Super El Nino to Super El Nino makes a reasonable weather observation period.

  18. I look forward to the future posts on sea level.

    After all, unless you subscribe to the Bjorn Lomborg “They Moved My Tree” School of SLR denial, the observed rise does cry out for an explanation. What does Cruz have? Pixie dust and unicorn breath?

    Wikipedia has the approximate area of the world ocean at 391.6 million square kilometers. Multiplying by 3 millimeters, that’s ~1175 cubic kilometers, if I haven’t slipped a decimal place–and I don’t seem to have, as that number is in decent agreement with this:

    The amount of water in the atmosphere at any moment in time is only 12,900 cubic kilometers, a minute fraction of Earth’s total water supply: if it were to completely rain out, atmospheric moisture would cover the Earth’s surface to a depth of only 2.5 centimeters.


    So, where on Earth–I’m excluding extraterrestrial sources as a major contributor, daredevil that I am–does all that water come from? The mainstream science says roughly half comes from melting ice, and the rest comes from thermal expansion with warming. What’s the alternate explanation? The only one I can come up with is that there are massive numbers of unobserved hot springs and seeps releasing water from the planet’s crust.

    Doesn’t have much plausibility, seems to me. Why would SLR rates change on annual timescales and less–and why would they do so in ways that are consistent with precipitation changes, as when Australian floods temporarily lowered sea level a few years ago? (Though I guess you could argue it’s ‘both and’–the atmospheric fluxes are ‘noise,’ while crustal fluxes contribute the SLR trend. But that still doesn’t explain why the trend can change over time, or indeed over geological timescales reverse its sign.)

    Which would seem to get us back to unicorn breath and pixie dust.

    • Cruz would attribute SLR as coming from the tears of the “single mom’s waiting tables” that Obama is deliberately bankrupting with his policy of wage stagnation and to the “Washington elites are trying to do is double her energy bill.”
      His rhetoric is over the top and easily debunked, however it is cleverly crafted to reach people who know next to nothing, other than the world is changing for reason that they don’t understand, and “Obama, liberal politicians, elites”, and other demagogic characterizations are responsible, and God will watch over us, so nothing to worry about…except the ‘other’.

      • Well, it’s poetic, I’ll say that. I’d think that those tears have more to do with lack of affordable health care, child care, insurance, and poor on the job conditions and pay which are arguably related to the destruction of unionism and the demonization of immigrant workers (who conveniently become a pool of labor too scared to speak up for themselves, even when abused, robbed, or assaulted.)

        But hey, maybe that’s just me.

    • The bonkers explanation is that it’s from mining the aquifers and the eco-nuts blowing all the dams — betcha never thought about that one right?

      Of course, scientists have thought about it and measured it extensively:

      Click to access WG1AR5_Chapter13_FINAL.pdf

      Table 13.1: “Land water storage”, then see page 1155 for the details.

      Summary is that the land water storage changes contribute about 10% of the total increase in recent decades, and were counteracting sea level rise much of last century because we built a lot of dams then.

  19. And Cruz is one of the ‘not so crazy’ Republican candidates, isn’t he, preferred by the GOP establishment? One of the guys considered closer to the centre and therefore electable? Where does that put the ‘centre’ these days?

    • IMO, Cruz is “Donald Trump lite.” Smarter, not quite as obviously outrageous, but with a similar depth of power-hunger and narcissism, and equally unsuited to anything requiring team-building, diplomacy or empathy.

    • Not at all. He is widely disliked by the Republican establishment and usually considered part of the Tea Party conservative wing. Rubio or Bush, among the current Republican candidates, would be the establishment’s “electable” choices.

    • Don’t kid yourself. Cruz is an utter, complete nutjob as well as an SOB. Someone asked one of the staff on Dubya’s campaign (on which Cruz served) why people took an instant dislike to him. The staff member responded, “It saves time.”

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      Oh, no. Cruz brings the full crazy — he’s basically a Christian Dominionist like his daddy. This means that he wants a fusion of church and government, sort of like Christian sharia law.

      • Rattus has it: “Christian sharia”

        The guy is a seriously nasty piece of work, heavily in love with himself. If you really want to know more, check out The New Yorker, but personally I agree it saves time to just know he’s about as bad as it gets.

    • Thanks. Yeah, I see I mixed him up with Rubio. I’m relieved, sort of. Though I see Cruz is polling second, between Trump and Carson. Spoiled for choice, aren’t you?

  20. The minority always gets at least one witness; in this case, you’d expect they’d get 2-3 … but the right one was more than enough, and I was pleased to have met Adm. Titley at PSU a few months ago.

    I know at least one other scientist who got asked.

  21. Different people have different points at which a count becomes inaccurate (i.e., the point at which we have “many” instead of an exact number). I have transcribed the seven “facts” established in the senate hearing, according to Cruz:

    [Response: I too transcribed his seven “facts,” every one of which is either straw man, error, or lie — par for the course for Ted Cruz.]

    1. Carbon dioxide, rather than being a pollutant, is good for plant life.

    2. The earth, right now, today, is greening.

    3. For significant periods in history, there has been markedly more CO2 in our atmosphere and that was prior to the industrial revolution so it could not have come from the burning of fossil fuels.

    4. For the last 18 years, the satellite data and the weather balloon data both demonstrate no significant warming whatsoever.

    5. The satellite data and the weather balloon data are the best evidence we have of whether warming is occurring, and that evidence, the actual data, demonstrate that it is not.

    6. The seas were rising more in the first half of the 20th century, prior to the significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions, than they are now.

    8. The computer models, the apocalyptic computer models, that are telling us we need to raise every hard-working American’s electric bills, gas bills, cost of living, we need it to harder for single moms, for immigrants, for African Americans, for Hispanics, for hard-working men and women, we need to make it harder for them to make a living and make ends meet, the computer models are PROFOUNDLY wrong, not a little bit wrong but PROFOUNDLY inconsistent with the data and the evidence.

    None of these 8 facts tend to make it through the media gate-keepers.

  22. Everett F Sargent


    Just like Cruz, just another denier who can’t count.

    If any of those 7.5 ‘facts’ had any validity the well respected peer reviewed climate science literature would have published on those 7.5 ‘facts’ – that they have not – should tell you something, that something being that Cruz is lying.

    The only thing that the MSM is doing now is just reporting on the 7.5 ‘lies’ of Cruz.

  23. I want to take it

    Tamino, how could we get EdX or Coursera to offer a MOOC in performing climate data analysis and visualization, led by someone like yourself?

  24. Speaking of a ‘voice of reason’, this morning Laurent Fabius, foreign minister of France, announced a text of a new Paris Accord. I wrote about it here, more or less live-blogging it:


    This is BBC coverage, which is what I was following (though I’m not sure how long that link will remain ‘live’):


    The UN site is here, and the text of the draft is up for download:


    Note that the draft still needs to be adopted by the plenary:

    Do they know something that we do not – that there is the real risk of failure? Is it possible that the behind-the-scenes bargaining has bumped into obstacles that are not merely national ‘red lines’ but are immovable concrete barriers?

    It was revealing that both men mentioned a word that many at these talks have been trying to avoid: Copenhagen. That was the last big gathering on climate change, back in 2009, and its failure hovers like some bad spirit over this whole process.

    The fact that Fabius and Hollande even brought it up is a sign of the challenges involved in getting this far.

    So what’s next? The new French text is due at 13.30 local time (12:30 GMT) and then we see which countries are happy and which are not – and who is prepared to dig and keep talking in the hope of getting a better deal.

    Of course, presuming that approval does come, there will be much post-facto evaluation of the merits and demerits. I can’t imagine that approval will not be forthcoming–though there is still that frisson of fear in my gut…