Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is showing Sierra Club President Aaron Mair to be an ideological hack and global warming alarmist.
At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Cruz subjected him to a withering cross examination. Mair was reduced to stammering and frequent awkward pauses which he used to receive whispered advice from staff. He repeatedly referred to the discredited “97 percent of scientists concur” claim, and was unwilling to acknowledge valid scientific data that disproves the claim.
Mark Steyn, sitting in for Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday, called Cruz’s relentless questioning of Mair “a thing of beauty.”
Ten different times in his testimony, Mair claimed that “97 percent of the scientists concur and agree that there is global warming.”
“The problem with that particular statistic, which gets cited a lot,” Cruz rebutted, “is it’s based on one bogus study.”
The day began contentiously and Mair proved completely unprepared for the piercing questions posed by Cruz.
“In your written testimony you said that the science behind climate change and its effect on minority communities ‘should not be up for debate.’ I’m curious. For 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?” Cruz asked of Mair.
“If you are relying on the evidence and data, you know the science, the preponderance of the evidence are there,” Mair responded.
“But that’s a different thing than saying we should not debate a question that the Sierra Club has declared this scientific issue resolved and there should be no debate,” Cruz pressed.
“Based upon the preponderance of the evidence the science is settled, but the thing is that anything is up for debate, Senator. We can debate,” Mair answered.
“I would note that even the phrase ‘preponderance of the evidence,’ having been a practicing lawyer for many years means 51 percent…at least 51 percent is what the preponderance means. I would ask, for example, if you want to end debate, you don’t want to address the facts, how do you address the facts that in the last eighteen years the satellite data show no demonstrable warming whatsoever?” Cruz asked.
“Sir, I would rely upon the Union of Concerned Scientists, I would rely upon the evidence from our own NOAA officials; the data are there,” Mair responded.
“Is it correct that the satellite data over the last eighteen years demonstrate no significant warming?” Cruz asked again.
“No,” Mair responded.
“How is it incorrect?” Cruz asked.
At this point, Mair leaned back from his chair on the witness table and listened to a bespectacled aide, who whispered in his ear.
“Based upon our experts, it’s been refuted long ago, “ Mair asserted confidently. “And it’s not up for scientific debate.”
“I do find it highly interesting that the President of the Sierra Club, when asked when asked what the satellite data demonstrate about warming apparently is relying on staff. The nice thing about the satellite data is these are objective numbers,” Cruz stated.
“Correct,” Mair answered.
“Are you familiar with the phrase, ‘the pause’?” Cruz asked.
After a long pause of his own (presumably to consult with his staff), Mair responded.
“The answer is yes, and essentially, we rest on our position,” Mair said.
“To what does the phrase ‘the pause’ refer?” Cruz asked.
Once again, Mair leaned back in his chair to hear from his staff.
“Essentially it’s the slowing of global warming during the ‘40s, sir,” Mair finally responded.
“During the 40s? Is it not the term that global warming alarmists have used to explain the inconvenient truth—to use a phrase popularized by former Vice President Al Gore—that the satellite date over the last eighteen years demonstrate no significant warming whatsoever? Global warming alarmists call that the pause because the computer models say there should be dramatic warming, and yet the actual satellites taking the measurements don’t show any significant warming,” Cruz asked.
“But Senator, 97 percent of the scientists concur and agree that there is global warming. Anthropogenic impact with regards to global warming.” Mair began. (emphasis added)
“The problem with that particular statistic, which gets cited a lot,” Cruz said, “is it’s based on one bogus study, and indeed your response…is quite striking. I asked about the science and the evidence, the actual data—we have satellites, they’re measuring temperature, that should be relevant—and your answer was ‘pay no attention to your lying eyes and the numbers that the satellites show; instead listen to the scientists who are receiving massive grants who tell us do not debate the science,” Cruz added.
Neither Mair nor Cruz cited the study on which Mair’s 97 percent of scientists concur with claims that global warming exists and is man made.
In fact, Breitbart News has found at least two such studies. Both are highly controversial.
A 2013 study upon which the 97 percent claim is based, “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature,” authored by John Cook and eight colleagues, has been discredited in a number of critiques.
“After taking a closer look at the paper, investigative journalists report the authors’ claims of a 97-pecent consensus relied on the authors misclassifying the papers of some of the world’s most prominent global warming skeptics,” Forbes Contributor James Taylor wrote shortly after the study came out in 2013.
“At the same time, the authors deliberately presented a meaningless survey question so they could twist the responses to fit their own preconceived global warming alarmism,” Taylor continued.
A 2010 study, “Expert credibility in climate change,” written by William Anderegg of Stanford University and three colleagues concluded “97-8% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of [anthropogenic climate change] outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
But Roger Pielke Jr, “one of the world’s top environmental policy researchers” according to Times Higher Education, does not think much of the Anderegg study:
He argues that it sits uneasily within a scientific publication because of its political nature. In support of this, he cites an article in the magazine Scientific American that says that one of the researchers, Schneider, a distinguished climate scientist, “admits that it is born of frustration with ‘climate deniers’, such as physicist Freeman Dyson or geologist Ian Plimer, being presented as ‘equally credible’ to his peers and granted ‘equal weight’ as science assessments from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) or US National Academy of Sciences, both of which ascribe ongoing climate change to increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases due to human activities.”
Pielke also points out a major methodological flaw in the paper – the authors used, as their division point, those who agreed with the 2007 report of the IPCC and those who did not. The problem is that the majority of names on the paper’s list of those who were sceptical of anthropogenic global warming were taken from a series of open letters and petitions in circulation before 2007. The authors of those documents could have little if any idea of their views on a yet-to-be-written report.
Nonetheless, Mair continued to stand by the highly contested 97 percent claim.
“Sir, this is one of the national pastimes in America, and while we’re debating what 97 percent of the scientists have already settled, the 3 percent that, as I say, have invested in with regards to the carbon industry …you know, our planet is cooking and heating up and warming, so this is one of the reasons why…” Mair started. (emphasis added)
“It is the Sierra Club’s position that right now the earth is cooking up and heating and warming. Is that the Sierra Club’s position?” Cruz asked.
“I’m saying I concur with 97 percent of the world’s scientists with regards to global warming and the anthropogenic effects of mankind with regards to climate,” Mair responded. (emphasis added)
“But sir,” Cruz continued, “would you answer the question. Is it the Sierra Club’s position, as you just testified, that the earth is cooking up and heating and warming right now? Is that the Sierra Club’s position?” he asked.
“Global temperatures are on the rise, sir,” Mair answered, sticking to the party line.
“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 eighteen years there has been no significant warming and indeed that is why global warming alarmists invented the term ‘the pause’ to explain what they call the pause in global warming because the data demonstrate what you just said—that the earth is cooking and warming—is not backed up by the data,” Cruz pressed on.
“We are concurring with 97 percent of the scientists that absolutely say the opposite, sir,” Mair answered. (emphasis added)
“If the data are contrary to your testimony, would the Sierra Club issue a retraction?” Cruz asked again.
“Sir, we concur with the 97 percent scientific consensus with regards to global warming,” Mair repeated. (emphasis added)
“I would like to repeat the question and get an answer,” Cruz bulldogged ahead. “If the data are contrary to your testimony, would the Sierra Club issue a retraction?”
“We concur with 97 percent of the scientists, I believe, that the anthropogenic impacts of mankind with regards to global warming are true,” Mair repeated yet again in response. (emphasis added)
“So does that mean you’re not willing to answer the question?” Cruz asked.
“We concur with the preponderance of the evidence and the science that 97 percent…. You’re asking me if we’ll take the 3 percent over the…” (emphasis added)
“I’m actually not asking about a survey among scientists,” Cruz interrupted. “I’m asking about the objective data. The numbers.”
“The scientist groups rely upon their objective data and their analysis, and 97 percent have concurred and conclude that global warming is indeed a fact,” Mair answered. (emphasis added)
“Mr. Mair, I find it striking, that for a public policy organization that purports to exclusively focus on environmental issues that you’re not willing to tell this committee that you would issue a retraction if your testimony is objectively false under scientific data. That undermines the credibility of any organization if you will persist in a political position regardless of what the science shows, regardless of the facts, regardless of the evidence, and regardless of the data. That is not consistent, I would suggest, with sound public policy,” Cruz said.
“Sir, you can pick whatever you choose, you can cherry pick whatever data you wish, but I concur with the 97 percent of scientists who concur that global warming is a fact,” Mair repeated. (emphasis added)
It is probably safe to conclude that Mair will not be voting for Ted Cruz in the 2016 Presidential campaign.
If he ever needs a lawyer who can destroy a witness, however, he may think of calling on the junior Senator from Texas.