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Tinfoil hat wearers at Energy and Power subcommittee hearing September 18, 2013.
Spectators at the House Energy and Power subcommittee mock
congressional climate change deniers at Wednesday hearing.
It's so tempting to call the overwhelming majority of the 17 Republican members of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee dunces, doofuses, know-nothings, nincompoops, ignoramuses or cuckoo birds when it comes to climate change. If you watched even a brief part of Wednesday's hearing on the subject with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testifying, you can see that this GOP crew most certainly qualifies for any and all those descriptors.

Indeed, 14 of them are outright climate change deniers. Total scientific illiterates. Or at least pretending to be by carrying water for the fossil fuel companies that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over two decades injecting disinformation into public discourse about climate change and smearing scientists whose research showed that it is happening and that it is human-caused. That was why several members of the audience donned tinfoil hats to mock those committee members when they asked questions. The 14:

Chairman: Ed Whitfield (Kentucky); Vice Chairman: Steve Scalise (Louisiana); Ralph Hall (Texas); Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (Texas); Pete Olson (Texas); Joe Barton (Texas); John Shimkus (Illinois); Lee Terry (Nebraska); Bill Cassidy (Louisiana); David McKinley (West Virginia); Cory Gardner (Colorado); Mike Pompeo (Kansas); Morgan Griffith (Virginia); and Fred Upton (Michigan).

Three other Republican members on the subcommittee, Joseph R. Pitts of Pennsylvania, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Bob Latta of Ohio have not directly denied that human-made climate change is happening. But on related issues they vote just like the outright deniers.

These aren't the only deniers on the subcommittee. There's also John Barrow of Georgia, one of the few remaining Blue Dog Democrats in Congress.

It was a sickening parade of know-nothingism and shilling at the hearing. Moniz and McCarthy must have repeatedly wanted to slam their heads on the table where they sat. And have a good stiff drink or three when the hearing was over. Ryan Koronowski at ThinkProgress provided a rundown on the "Five Craziest Arguments" expressed by the subcommittee's deniers. One of the nincompoopiest came from Rep. McKinley. He actually asserted there has been no temperature increase in the past 40 years. A claim any fifth-grader could shoot down. He also said the benefits of climate change will outweigh any harm.

Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy wrote a succinct smackdown that began with "Let me be clear: What he said here is complete nonsense."

Please read below the fold for more analysis.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California also took a poke at McKinley during, noting, "Mr. Chairman, I think this illustrates why we need a committee where we bring in the scientists. I just thought that the statements that the gentlemen from West Virginia read to us were incredibly inaccurate and contrary to everything else everybody in the scientific community has to say, including Mr. Moniz [...] We need scientists to come in here and talk about science."

Waxman is one of six Democrats of the 14 on the subcommittee who represent a wholly other point of view than the denier majority. The six are part of the 28-member Safe Climate Caucus. They've committed to speak every day on the House floor "to end the conspiracy of silence in the House of Representatives about the dangers of climate change. What unites us is our understanding that climate change is the moral issue of our time. We believe we have an obligation to use our voices to raise awareness of the dangers we are creating for our children and grandchildren if we do not act now." Besides Waxman, they six are:

Ranking Member Bobby L. Rush of Illinois; Jerry McNerney, Lois Capps and Doris O. Matsui of California; and Paul Tonko of New York. Hurrah for them.

But other than Barrow, what's the excuse of the other Democrats for not being a member of the Safe Climate Caucus? Indeed, what is the excuse of any Democratic representative for not being part of it?

Yes, yes, nothing substantial addressing climate change can get passed in the House as long as the Republicans are in charge. But only 14 percent of House Democrats have shown that they really want to take action. Why aren't they on board, publicly, taking a stand every week, hammering on the deniers? What are they waiting for?

Denying that human-caused climate change is happening is bad. It's myopic. It's reckless. Those in Congress who really believe their denial prove they are too stupid to be there. Those who don't believe it but spout the nonsense anyway because it makes their campaign contributors happy are too corrupt to be there.

But those who accept the scientific evidence and still don't speak up, who still don't join their colleagues who are spotlighting the crisis because they've got other priorities are no better than the deniers.

Because delay is denial.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 12:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, Science Matters, Climate Hawks, and Daily Kos.

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