by Judith Curry
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked a dozen of the state’s top elected officials and the director of the agency tasked with the state’s environment whether they believe the globe is warming, and whether they think pollution caused by human activity is a cause.
The title of the article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution is Ga. politicians cool to global warming, written by Ariel Hart. Read the whole article; Ariel Hart did a very good job. Excerpts:
[Newly-elected Republican Representative Rick] Allen vehemently rejected the idea that warming is an established fact. “The science if definitely NOT settled,” he said in an email. “Limiting debate to one side is not the same as being conclusive. …
“I am not convinced and I am certainly not ready to destroy jobs and whole industry sectors in order to tax industries liberals don’t like and send the money to sectors that they do like.”
Loudermilk struck similar themes. “I believe that climate change is a function of nature; the climate has been changing as long as the Earth has existed,” he said.
“We absolutely should be good stewards of the planet, and I am very much opposed to reckless pollution and disregard for the environment, but I also know that some politicians and bureaucrats believe in whatever theory gives them an opportunity to take money from the energy sector and spend it themselves in the name of saving the planet.”
At the state level, Georgia’s top official deferred to leaders in Washington. “This is more of a national and international policy issue,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal. “Not one where we should or would weigh in.”
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, provided a written statement.
“While some are eager to proclaim that human-caused climate change is ‘settled science,’ there are many others who remain skeptical,” Ralston’s statement read. “Claiming that the debate is over helps advance a particular agenda and disregards the fact that the only provable result of policies proposed as a result is the export of American jobs to countries with abysmal environmental practices.”
To support his view, Ralston cited Dr. Judith Curry of Georgia Tech. Curry believes the Earth is warming — except for a current “pause” — and told the AJC in an interview that, among scientists, “everybody agrees that humans are contributing to warming.” However, she chastises other climate scientists for overstating how much humans are to blame and the certainty of likely consequences.
Jack Murphy, a Republican of Cumming, who chairs the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee and sits on the powerful Rules and Appropriations committees, was skeptical that global temps are rising.
“I still haven’t seen anything that’s positive proof,” Murphy said. “Until I do, I’m going to have to say, well, if it is changing, it’s changing at such a minute stage that I don’t know what the long term effects are going to be.”
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle would not plant his flag in the warming camp, but said he could still support sound environmental policies.
“While scientist(s) will argue over this issue, it does appear that the earth goes through warming and cooling cycles,” Cagle said in a statement provided through a spokesman. “I will leave it to scientific experts to determine what the causes of those changes are, but either way we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of the creation with which we have been entrusted.”
I-am-not-a-scientist was a popular refrain.
“You know, I’m not a scientist,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Gooch. “So I have to base my decision making on information that I get from other people, so I guess it’s hard for me to say for sure.”
However, he added, “I think we have a duty as citizens to protect Mother Earth and try to pass it on to our next generation as good as or better than we found it.” He thinks we’re on the right course to do that, he said, without federal interference.
The chair of the House Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, Don Parsons, a Republican of Marietta, also remains unconvinced. “As far as global warming, I have read so many different things, so many different reports from different scientific studies that come to different conclusions, I don’t know,” Parsons said.
“I’m not one of those people who just sits and rejects the idea, but I’m just not convinced.”
Ga. Tech prof cited by climate-change skeptics
Among climate scientists, one often held up as a dissenter on global warming is right here at Georgia Tech: Earth Sciences Professor Judith Curry.
One science magazine even dubbed her a “climate heretic.” But look carefully at her statements — including some quoted by GOP politicians — and Curry, too, believes the earth is warming, and that human activity is a cause.
“Everybody agrees that humans are contributing to warming,” Curry said in an interview with the AJC.
That said, she does differ in important ways with scientists who urge immediate action to counteract the Earth’s warming trend. She thinks the earth is warming at a slower rate than computer models predict, and she’s not at all sure that man-made pollution is the primary cause. She differs with many of her colleagues on the meaning of a current pause in surface temperature warming.
She thinks fostering new energy technologies to replace fossil fuels is wise, but that weaning us from carbon-based fuels is a project for the long term. Most jarring for her colleagues, she doesn’t think climate change is an emergency. She loathes false certainty.
She is willing, however, to appear alongside politicians and pundits who flatly reject the basic tenets of climate change that she embraces. On once recent program cited by Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, Curry was interviewed by conservative CNBC personality Rick Santelli, who suggested that mainstream climate scientists have “bamboozled” the American public.
“I think there’s nothing to be gained by not talking to people,” Curry told the AJC.
Georgia is a ‘red’ state; dominated by Republicans (except for Metropolitan Atlanta which is dominated by Democrats). None of the politicians interviewed voiced acceptance of proposed federal mandates that would reduce the nation’s output of greenhouse gases. At the same time, none of the politicians made irrational statements, other than possibly Jack Murphy, who is skeptical that global temperatures are rising (it depends on which time period you are considering.)
Ariel Hart contacted me as a result of the written contribution from David Ralston that referred to me. Apparently Ralston had heard of my views from a recent interview that I did for Rick Santelli’s show on CNBC [link]. If you don’t know who Rick Santelli is, among other things he catalyzed the formation of the Tea Party movement. I really don’t like to do live TV interviews: I don’t feel I am effective and they are very time consuming (especially if they get cancelled). I agreed to do this one because it was a 10 minute segment, and also for a personal reason. Rick Santelli and I grew up in the same neighborhood in a Chicago suburb; in fact we lived on the same street and he was good friends with one of my brothers. My Facebook friends from high school got a big kick out of the interview – what are the odds of two kids from Edgewood Ave. talking to each other on NBC news. (Note, Santelli did not realize this connection when he invited me – he spotted my WSJ op ed).
Well, apparently this interview reached people that I haven’t hitherto reached. As far as I can tell, I have had zero impact on any Georgia politicians (although in 2007 – during my ‘consensus’ period – I had a one hour briefing with then Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss).
Does my employment at a University in the state of Georgia make it easier for me to challenge the consensus on climate change? Probably. There is at least one person in the Georgia Tech administration that doesn’t like my position on climate change, but in the broader context I would say that it is easier to challenge the AGW consensus from a ‘red’ state. Is it somehow ‘politically’ advantageous for me in the state of Georgia to challenge the AGW consensus? Not in any way that I have been able to figure out.
In any event, I am very willing to serve as an information resource for any Georgia politicians (or any others), should they choose to seek me out.