Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, hasn't read the latest report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but he says he knows enough to conclude that “most of the predictions have been wrong," he told Bloomberg TV on Friday.
“Congressman, it’s science. It’s 800 scientists," Bloomberg host Cory Johnson interrupted. "It’s not some random guy making a prediction.”
“There are a lot of other scientists who disagree," said the Texas Republican. "For example, we’ve now had close to 18 years of no global warming even though carbon dioxide emissions have increased 25 percent over the last 18 years. Nobody can explain that."
Smith told Johnson he had not read the IPCC report. “I only read summaries,” he said, and described the report authors as “clearly biased.”
There is near unanimity among active climate scientists that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it. Several studies have also debunked the idea that climate change isn't happening because surface air temperatures have risen more slowly since the 1990s. Rising greenhouse gas emissions mean a stronger greenhouse effect and the Earth continues to absorb more energy than it radiates back into space. This energy imbalance manifests itself in other ways, such as ocean warming and glacial melting.
"There’s still no explanation and no one can tell me yet what percentage of so-called climate change is due to human activity [and] what percentage is due to natural trends, natural cycles," Smith said. But in its latest report, the IPCC states with 95 percent confidence that it is "extremely likely" that "more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010" was caused by human activities.
Despite this overwhelming evidence from the most respected climate researchers, Rep. Smith says, "We don’t know enough yet to make decisions that are going to hurt our economy or hurt the American people ... Let’s continue to gather the facts, make sure the science is correct."
Smith, however, has worked to undermine climate science in his position as chairman of the committee. He's investigated National Science Foundation grants to researchers working on climate change on the premise that those grants aren't in the "national interest."
Nor does he seem particularly interested in finding out more about climate science. His committee has held more hearings on aliens than they have on climate science in the 113th Congress.