My impressions of the Ted Cruz Climate Denial Circus

I watched most of yesterday's Senate hearings live (ironically titled Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate), and what I missed, I sampled via the magic of recorded video. I considered fisking the hearings, in particular, the closing statement by Senator Ted Cruz (and his next-day interview on NPR). But I was distracted by work on Ikonokast, a new podcast Mike Haubrich and I are starting up (our first guest, taped yesterday, is Shawn Otto). And, many others had responses out on the internet quickly enough that my contribution was clearly not necessary (I've got some links below pointing to some of those commentaries).

More on Ted Cruz here, at Ikonokast Episode One
But even after that I'm left with a few impressions worth noting.

Obviously this was a partisan hearing designed to insert a bunch of climate science denial into the Congressional Record. One part of the hearing, though, failed in that respect, because minority members are allowed to invite a witness or two. The minority wisely chose Admiral David Titley, a climate scientists and meteorologist and an excellent communicator. To give a flavor of Admiral Titley's contribution, check out this segment in which he discusses satellite data collection and interpretation:

That video is embedded and discussed in this post by Peter Sinclair, which you should check out as it covers other important things.

Cruz's closing statement and interview were astonishing to me, rather unexpected. Every point he tried to make was out of the denialist playbook. That might seem to make sense. But the key points in the denialist playbook are old, tired, discredited, debunked, so easily dismissed that they can't possibly be taken seriously any more. One would have thought he would have come up with something more effective. But he didn't. Possibly because there isn't anything.

Which brings us to this not-to-miss segment of the hearing, a statement by Senator Ed Markey and the denier's (Curry and Steyn) reactions to that statement. Senator Markey made the poignant and relevant point that the empaneled witnesses represent the last redoubt of climate denialism, a strong contrast with the fact that every country in the world was at the same time busy in Paris trying to address climate change on the assumption that the world's scientists have made a clear and honest case that global warming is the existential issue of the day. Watch the clip. The whole clip. Interesting things happen. If by the end of it you don't want to have Senator Markeys baby, you might be a climate science denialist.

Note the contemptuous last stand of Mark Steyn and Judith Curry (starting about 8:20). I didn't know it was OK to talk to Senators that way during a hearing. I also didn't know it was OK to lie to Congress.

I said several months ago that we were at or near Peak Denial. Peter Dykstra seems to feel the same way (Commentary: Will we reach peak denial soon?). That was a somewhat risky statement at the time. It no longer is.

Check out these reactions to the hearings:

Everything Senator Ted Cruz said about climate change in this NPR interview was wrong.

Most Hated Senator Shows Why in Denial Circus Hearing
Ted Cruz’ Groovy Climate Expert

Deniers Debunked, Corrected, Chastised, Exposed

Ted Cruz’s Disturbing Views on Climate Change (and Other Things)

More like this

Er, of course it is allowed to lie to Congress: the First Amendment says so. However, it is against the law to take an oath stating one will not lie, and then lie.

I am working on a reply video. The video's title is "Rear Admiral Royally Reams Rectum Named 'Cruz,' Butt Respectfully"

By Desertphile (not verified) on 10 Dec 2015 #permalink

Peak denial? More like what's left after a going out of business sale. Cruz called the hearing and one would imagine that the Republican majority had had ample time to assemble some "convincing" witnesses, and this was all they could come up with? I noticed that Titley was a very late addition, and if I'm not mistaken Lamar Smith is exploiting his majority by giving the Democrats on his House committee very little time in which to call witnesses. I'm wondering if Cruz is doing the same thing, and if this can explain why the Democrats only had one witness.
Does anyone know?

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 10 Dec 2015 #permalink

cosmicomics: "Peak denial? More like what’s left after a going out of business sale. Cruz called the hearing and one would imagine that the Republican majority had had ample time to assemble some 'convincing' witnesses, and this was all they could come up with?"

Maybe it was a campaign finance event for Cruz. I cannot think of any other reason the "hearing" was held. If the Senate needed information about science, senators would have invited scientists. There was utterly no valid reason for the "hearing" to have happened.

I see that the predictions market "Predictit" shows Cruz's nomination stock increase one penny in the past three days (to 27 cents per share). Someone named "Rubio" is #1, at 38 cents a share.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 10 Dec 2015 #permalink

In reply to by cosmicomics (not verified)


They were in a congressional hearing. I have not researched it, nor am I a lawyer, but I'd be willing to bet that lying during a congressional hearing qualifies as perjury. At the very least, there is a compelling ethical standard of telling the truth in such a hearing.

By Jackson Ayres (not verified) on 10 Dec 2015 #permalink

It is pretty funny how Curry first objects to being called a denier and then burps up a number of typical denier talking points. And then Steyn.... "There were alligators at the North Pole. Waht was that? Was that you and your SUV?"

By Lars Karlsson (not verified) on 10 Dec 2015 #permalink

In general and in particular @#3 above: This is from an old article about CIA director's Hayden "misleading" testimony to Congress: Time magazine article.

There are two statutes of U.S. Code that govern perjury before Congress. Section 1621 of Title 18, often called the “general perjury” statute, prohibits individuals from lying to Congress while under oath, while Section 1001, also known as the “false statement” statute, covers testimony given while not under oath. A person convicted of perjury could face fines up to $100,000 or up to five years in jail.

But the narrow language of the statutes makes convictions extremely hard to come by. “The perjury statute is a technical statute,” explains Mark Hopson, managing partner at Sidney Austin LLP’s Washington office. “It is especially difficult, if not impossible to prosecute statements that may be misleading or evasive but subject to an arguably truthful interpretation.”

Why has nobody told Steyn that the reason that there were (small, cold-tolerant) alligators at high north latitude was that the Eocene was a high-CO2 hothouse climate?

I watched the 2 hours and 42 minutes of the Cruz climate change hearing. (See the video of it at the bottom of this:


Some of the things that stood out for me:

“Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013.” – Senator John Kerry, August 2009

How’s that for (false) alarmism?
Senator Nelson talks a lot early on about problems in Florida with the sea rising.
I wondered, could part of the problem be that FL is sinking? (I remember reading about sink holes down there, and I think about how the water table was being depleted.)
Head of Sierra Club, Aaron Maier, who failed to give substantive answers on AGW in Congressional hearing earlier this fall, declined invitations to testify at this hearing. Time 0:24:12.
Dr. John Cristy

AGW models fail; can’t come close to reproducing what’s happened in past several decades. Time 0:30:00.

Proposed studies by “contrarians” (such as Dr. Cristy) are rarely if ever federally funded. Panels that determine funding are run by AGWers.
Dr. Judith Curry

Scientific American article attacking her, titled:
“Climate Heretic Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues”.

Interesting choice of words by SA. "Heretic" is one going against religious dogma (i.e. NOT against science.) (

(Actually, it's a good choice of words by SA.)

Interesting points, going back and forth with Cruz, on the significant levels of uncertainty in the science. 1:57:00 to 2:04:00.

More interesting points on how scientific skepticism on AGW crimps careers and fizzles funding. 2:11:15 - 2:15:50.
Dr. Happer

‘CO2 pollution’ is silly. CO2 is a natural gas we all breathe out.

Many benefits to increasing CO2. Provides graph on the greening of the planet from 1982-2010.

We are currently in a CO2 famine relative to the atmosphere of earth eons ago.

He adds another reason for the higher reliability of the satellite data – it’s cross-checked by weather balloon data. 2:09:20.

And a retort to the other side’s attempt to dismiss satellite data as too complicated. 2:38:35
Mark Steyn

ALL of his testimony is worth hearing.
The second part of his remarks is at 2:05:00-2:08:36
The third at 2:16:00
Dr. Titley (the only AGWer on the panel)

'We KNOW earth changing at UNNATURAL pace.'
'We KNOW emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are the principal drivers.'

REALLY, Doctor? We KNOW, as in, it's proven or we are certain beyond any reasonable doubt? Really?

'We’re already paying a “carbon tax” in the costs of rebuilding after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.'

I thought even AGW scientists have been backing away from saying Katrina, Sandy and other hurricanes resulted from AGW.
And haven't the number of hurricanes been significantly below normal in the ten years since Katrina? Why is that?

Dr. Titley seems upset about the satellite data not showing steady or significant warming over the last 18 years or even the last 15.
Montana Senator Davies

Good description of the huge negative impact on his state of the Clean Power Plan.
Senator Markey

Points to Boston’s big snows last winter as proof or evidence of AGW!

And here I thought a snowstorm was a change in the weather, not a change in climate.
Some remarkable information at
“Find the deniers near you - and call them out today.”
And the equivalent of America’s Most Wanted pictures of “deniers” at 2:10:00.
Good closing summary by Cruz of eight key unrefuted facts. 2:39:13.

By See Noevo (not verified) on 10 Dec 2015 #permalink

See Noevo: "'Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013.' – Senator John Kerry, August 2009. How's that for (false) alarmism?"

That's an excellent example of alarmism: well done. Your alarmist pals must be very proud of you.

Note that President Elect Kerry was wrong. =SHRUG!= So what? Do you really expect a politician to be 100% correct about everything?

By Desertphile (not verified) on 11 Dec 2015 #permalink

In reply to by See Noevo (not verified)

I have the good fortune to be represented by Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren. He's been fighting the good fight for over 35 years, I believe. He ran a conference at MIT in 2009 with all the luminaries for Obama; we were so hopeful then.

(totally off topic, but he has a dishy wife who is an authority in her own field!)

Honestly, Curry and Steyn have no idea they are out in public without their clothes on. Antarctica, forsooth!

By Susan Anderson (not verified) on 10 Dec 2015 #permalink

Re. Markey:

I was far more impressed by Senator Nelson's comments on the consequences of sea level rise for Florida and Bangladesh. I was even more impressed by Senator Peter's remarks and questions starting at around 2:23:40, following Senator Nelson. He even gets to scientific skepticism and the process of peer-review.

Re. Cruz:

This was my first "live action" exposure to Cruz. He's a modern reincarnation of Joseph McCarthy – a deceitful, dangerous demagogue.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 10 Dec 2015 #permalink

Cruz is very dangerous. For America, and for the world.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 11 Dec 2015 #permalink

don't make the mistake of assuming sn actually read any of the crap he refers to - he has admitted he doesn't do that.

Brilliant speech by Ed Markey.
What a monumental twat Steyn is.
Whole thing was just an embarrassing show trial that failed miserably.
I hope it'll haunt them forever.

By Andy Lee Robinson (not verified) on 11 Dec 2015 #permalink

Andy Lee Robinson: "Whole thing was just an embarrassing show trial that failed miserably. I hope it’ll haunt them forever."

It was a show of obedience to the fossil fuel industry (i.e., a campaign fund-raising event). Cruz was showing that he is worthy of being purchased.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 11 Dec 2015 #permalink

In reply to by Andy Lee Robinson (not verified)

Even Roy Spencer now admits that satellite "measurements" of tropospheric temperature cannot and must not be used as proxies for surface temperature measurements, due to major unresolved issues in the assumptions used in the complex conversions of the microwave measurements into estimates of temperatures. (Spencer is one of the two main people responsible for the "UAH" satellite-based troposphere temperature estimations.)….

By Tom Dayton (not verified) on 11 Dec 2015 #permalink

Whole thing was just an embarrassing show trial.

I would render it, "A Conservative public masturbation session: Inappropriate, shameful, and embarrassing."

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 11 Dec 2015 #permalink