When It Comes To Disdain For Science, Trump And House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith Are On The Same Page

Yesterday the House Science Committee-- the majority of whose members were chosen to serve by the GOP leadership because they don't believe in or understand science-- held hearings on electronic vulnerabilities of U.S. election systems to hacking. Earlier in the day, we talked about the unsuitability of the committee's chairman, Lamar Smith (R-TX) for any kind of a task that involves intellectual objectivity or an understanding of how technology works. At the time, his election opponent, Democrat Tom Wakely told us that he found it "concerning is the idea that the science committee can now hold their depositions in complete privacy. Restoring transparency to these proceedings and investigations is paramount to our progress. We can’t let House Republicans run amok all in the name of obstruction and denial. I stand in solidarity with the attorneys general and climate organizations in their fight against Smith. They have my unwavering support as someone who actually understands the limits of our Constitution."

Smith and his anti-science brigade that dominate the committee can deny science and deny climate change all they like. That won't keep Louisiana from drowning. "Global warming," wrote Will Greenberg for Mother Jones last week, "has dramatically increased the likelihood of the type of torrential rainfall that flooded Louisiana last month, according to a new study by government and private sector scientists. Researchers working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the probability of such storms along the US Gulf Coast had increased by at least 40 percent since 1900-- and may even have doubled-- thanks to climate change... [T]here is now a 1-in-30 chance that we'll see rain like this on the Gulf Coast in any given year... In California this year, more than 5,350 wildfires have burned nearly 500,000 acres, as warmer temperatures have left the state full of potential kindling. Meanwhile, sea level rise has worsened the impact of tropical storms like Hurricane Sandy." Lamar Smith's untrained mind-- his inability to use critical thinking-- can't cope with any of this. He has shown a dangerous disregard for experts, thinking that they hold no special standing in scientific discourse. You and I know better: no one with any training in earth  and climate sciences denies climate change. Denialism is a fringe view held by those who don't understand science. But Lamar Smith picks and chooses the soundbites that he'll let into his puny little brain and worse, makes policy decisions based on them. He shouldn't be a congressman, let alone the chairman of the House Science Committee.

This morning, as the Republicans on the Science Committee prepared to "investigate" voting machine hacking, Time Magazine published a report on the newly released survey on the the attitudes towards scientific issues held by the presidential candidates, laying "bare a wide gap in how the two major party nominees for president would treat issues such as climate change, conservation and public health." Señor Trumpanzee "expressed skepticism at the need for the federal government to weigh in on a wide range of scientific issues, and dismissed outright certain policy concerns. In contrast, the Democratic candidate offered detailed responses on what role the government should play on even the least glamorous of issues."

Science Chair Lamar Smith is not just an avid Trump supporter, he's the only member of Congress to have contributed money to the Trump campaign. And like Smith, Trump thinks Climate Change is a fiction.

Climate change stands out as perhaps the most egregious area of disagreement between the two candidates, given its stakes and the significant scientific consensus that humans have caused it. Trump, who has previously called global warming a “hoax,” referred to climate change in quotation marks and suggested that “there is still much that needs to be investigated.” Clinton offered an abbreviated recap of her plan to address the issue and called it “a defining challenge of our time.”

Global warming may be the issue with the most obvious contrast, but it is far from the only area where the difference is stark. On protecting ocean health, for instance, Clinton wrote more than 400 words, citing a federal law that protects fisheries and alluding to a plan to promote coastal restoration.

Trump wrote just two sentences on the same topic, saying he would “establish priorities” about how the federal government spends money (presumably with little room for oceans). Trump also questioned the premise of questions of biodiversity, public health and food. “The implication of your question is that there should be central control of American agriculture by the federal government,” Trump wrote in response to a question on food. “That is totally inappropriate.”

The Donald's response to the survey's straight-forward question, "What are your views on climate change, and how would your administration act on those views?" Standard GOP nonsense that could have been penned for him by Lamar Smith or any of the neanderthals on the Science Committee:

There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of “climate change.” Perhaps the best use of our limited financial resources should be in dealing with making sure that every person in the world has clean water. Perhaps we should focus on eliminating lingering diseases around the world like malaria. Perhaps we should focus on efforts to increase food production to keep pace with an ever-growing world population. Perhaps we should be focused on developing energy sources and power production that alleviates the need for dependence on fossil fuels. We must decide on how best to proceed so that we can make lives better, safer and more prosperous.

Or maybe Barron Trump wrote it for him. This was Hillary's response to the same question:

When it comes to climate change, the science is crystal clear. Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time and its impacts are already being felt at home and around the world. That’s why as President, I will work both domestically and internationally to ensure that we build on recent progress and continue to slash greenhouse gas pollution over the coming years as the science clearly tells us we must.

I will set three goals that we will achieve within ten years of taking office and which will make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century:

Generate half of our electricity from clean sources, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of my first term.

Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.

Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships, and trucks.

To get there, my administration will implement and build on the range of pollution and efficiency standards and clean energy tax incentives that have made the United States a global leader in the battle against climate change. These standards are also essential for protecting the health of our children, saving American households and businesses billions of dollars in energy costs, and creating thousands of good paying jobs.

These standards set the floor, not the ceiling. As President, I will launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with those states, cities, and rural communities across the country that are ready to take the lead on clean energy and energy efficiency, giving them the flexibility, tools and resources they need to succeed.

There were 20 questions in all, each worth reading and pondering, from nuclear power and food to biodiversity, public health, education and scientific integrity. I want to bring up one more-- the question about the Internet: "What steps will you take to protect vulnerable infrastructure and institutions from cyber attack, and to provide for national security while protecting personal privacy on electronic devices and the internet?"

Señor Trumpanzee, late night tweeter: "The United States government should not spy on its own citizens. That will not happen in a Trump administration. As for protecting the Internet, any attack on the Internet should be considered a provocative act that requires the utmost in protection and, at a minimum, a proportional response that identifies and then eliminates threats to our Internet infrastructure."

Hillary's answer was, as usual, more comprehensive and thoughtful:

As President, I will fight to ensure that the Internet remains a space for free exchange, providing all people equal access to knowledge and ideas. While we must protect this exchange and the privacy of individuals, we must also invest in cybersecurity, which is not only essential to our national and economic security, but will become increasingly important as devices across sectors are networked.

Since my time in the Senate, I have worked across the aisle to improve our nation’s cybersecurity. Internet freedom and security were at the forefront of my work as Secretary of State, and we must ensure this effort continues into the next administration. I supported the USA Freedom Act enacted in 2015. I also support the bipartisan effort led by Sen. Warner and Rep. McCaul, to create a national commission on digital security and encryption to help show the way forward.

This is an issue that spans both the public and private sector. I will build on the Obama Administration’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan, modernizing our government-wide cybersecurity and federal IT and empowering a federal Chief Information Security Officer. I also support public-private collaboration on cybersecurity innovation, along with implementing the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework. The next President will be confronted with these challenges, and will need common sense approaches to balance cybersecurity with personal privacy. The next president must be able to thoughtfully address these nuanced issues.

As president I will make it clear that the United States will treat cyberattacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses and we will invest in protecting our governmental networks and national infrastructure. I believe the United States should lead the world in setting the rules of cyberspace. If America doesn’t, others will.

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