During a ten-day period last month, two very different views about climate change were presented to the public from two very different bodies of influence. The two conflicting perspectives illustrate well the chasm which now exists between mainstream science and mainstream US politics regarding one of the most important issues facing society today.
Leading policy makers, including President Obama, who have remained non-committal on key climate issues to date such as the decision over the Keystone XL Pipeline, will eventually be forced to side with one perspective or the other.
The contrasting views:
On the one side; A team of US researchers who just released a landmark study on global temperature patterns of the past 11,000 years
On the other side; The US Congressman from Utah — the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment on the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
a) On March 8 the findings of a team of researchers were published in the journal Science, which concluded that “recent (global) warming is unprecedented in the past 1300 years.”
The study, titled “A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years”, is not the first of it’s kind, but may be the most comprehensive. It has been described as “the most meticulous reconstruction yet of global temperatures over the past 11,300 years, virtually the entire Holocene”.
The report was hailed by scientists, such as noted climatologist Michael Mann, as ‘further confirming’ what we already know about climate change: it is real, it is accelerating at unprecedented levels, and is exacerbated by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The diverse range of damage (both short and long-term) caused by weather extremes — beginning to be well understood by communities and local governments — reflects the threat to larger society which comes with such dramatic climate change.
Links to the full report are here.
b) Ten days later, on March 18, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment on the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology, US Congressman Chris Stewart (Utah), said “I’m not as convinced as a lot of people are that man-made climate change is the threat they think it is.” He cautioned against any action to mitigate against climate change which might have adverse “economic” impacts out of proportion to the threat.
Who has the credentials and expertise to speak out about this complicated subject? Whose perspective should guide policy? A brief review of the professional biographies of the parties involved follows below; perhaps this may add insight when analyzing the validity of the respective statements — and subsequent decisions relating to energy, and climate, made by policy makers in government.
a) The four scientists who authored “A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years“:
Shaun A. Marcott is a Ph.D geologist with Oregon State University with background on paleoclimatology, glacial geology, geochemistry, and numerical and statistical modeling.
“Presently, I am developing a carbon dioxide record from WAIS Divide, Antarctica for the last 20,000 years, which will shed new light on the relationship between past climate changes and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere” he states on his website.
Peter U. Clark and Alan C. Mix, also, are each Ph.D researchers on climate science with Oregon State University.
Collectively, these scientists have received grants and fellowships from The National Geographic Society, The National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and others.
a) US Congressman Chris Stewart (R-Utah):
Stewart is a first-term US Congressman, elected in November 2012. Stewart is a vocal critic of the EPA — recently castigating the agency for it’s role in (unspecified) “job-killing climate regulation” and for excluding industry scientists in the agency’s “scientific advisory mechanisms.”
He previously was the CEO of The Shipley Group, a private consultancy firm, which specialized in energy issues, environmental compliance issues and, according to Stewart’s Congressional bio, consultancy for “anti-terrorism training”. Clients included oil companies and various government agencies. He also was a decorated Air Force pilot who flew rescue helicopters and piloted the B-1B bomber; his accomplishments include setting the world record for the fastest non-stop flight around the world. He is also a best-selling NY Times writer and novelist, whose works include Seven Miracles That Saved America and Seven Tipping Points That Saved The World. (Full Bio Here).
The oil and gas industry is the largest industry contributor to Stewart’s political campaign.