Bernie Sanders And Climate Change Activists Fight Back Against The House Science Committee's Bad Science

He didn't hold back.

The House Committee On Science, Space And Technology sent shockwaves through the scientific world on Thursday with an inaccurate tweet criticizing "climate alarmists" for their "icy silence" on a supposed global plunge in temperature. 

Perhaps most notably, the tweet was criticized by former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has been outspoken about the need to address climate change. Outrage from environmentalists, Sanders and regular Americans who care about climate change is legitimate: the article was perpetuating long-debunked misunderstandings about climate change and inaccurately portrayed the scientific community as being ambiguous about the cause of global temperature rises. 



Sanders' tongue-in-cheek response to the committee's tweet has been retweeted over 81,000 times.

The article, which was published by Breitbart News, essentially claimed that recent global warming was the result of El Niño, the recurring climate pattern that warms water in the equatorial Pacific region. Now, according to the article's author James Delingpole (who has no identifiable scientific background and describes himself as a satirist), the opposite climate pattern known as La Niña is going to begin cooling the earth off once again.

Delingpole "proves" this fact by citing The Daily Mail, who claimed that "NASA featured a new study which said there was a hiatus in global warming before the recent El Niño" in one of their articles. As Karen James, a staff scientist at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Maine, pointed out in a series of viral tweets and Facebook posts, this is not at all what NASA said on its website. 

"The NASA study shows the observed slowdown in surface warming was NOT evidence of a 'hiatus'; rather, the heat was redistributed in the ocean," James said on Facebook. "Overall global warming has not slowed or paused. There is no hiatus."

This, of course, might have taken Delingpole just minutes to figure out after searching Google.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains the cycles of El Niño and La Niña in detail on its website. Critics find the idea that climate scientists would somehow be unaware of the effects of these cycles laughable. Even NASA, who The Daily Mail cited in its article, has dedicated entire sections of its website to the importance of addressing climate change immediately.

A Plus reached out to James Delingpole via Twitter and his work email, but the Breitbart News contributor did not respond to a request for interview or comment. The process by which the Committee on Science, Space And Technology's social media team selected the Breitbart article to tweet remains unclear.

However, political observers were quick to point out that President-elect Donald Trump appointed Steve Bannon as chief strategist. Bannon, of course, is the former CEO of Breitbart News, which published the article in question.  The chairman of the Committee on Science, Space And Technology, Lamar Smith, proclaimed publicly that he was the first member of Congress to contribute money to Donald Trump

Smith has also been immersed in controversy for being a global warming skeptic while simultaneously holding a government position that oversees a scientific community which overwhelmingly recognizes, studies and is trying to combat the causes and effects of global warming.

Like Delingpole, Smith has no scientific background. Before his election as a state representative, he worked as a business and financial writer for the Christian Science Monitor and then as an attorney in San Antonio. It was a Republican Congress — one of the last political parties in the world to question the science of climate change — who appointed him chairman of the Committee On Science, Space And Technology.

Since then, Smith has run roughshod over climate scientists, issuing more subpoenas to appear in court in his first three years as chairman than the committee had in its entire history beforehand. In a 2015 article, The Washington Post pointed out that Smith has received more than $600,000 in campaign donations from the gas and oil industries

While Smith's position may be discouraging to environmentalists, they have had plenty to cheer about in recent weeks. On Sunday night, protesters scored a huge victory when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant the necessary permit for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline to drill beneath Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir and an important source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. That news comes as a group of youth plaintiffs continue to climb the judicial ladder with a lawsuit against the federal government in the hopes of establishing further protections for the environment.

Cover photo: Flickr / Phil Roder



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