Skeptical scientist hijacks AOC Congressional climate hearing – AOC laments ‘We’re not debating whether climate change is real’
Climate statistician Dr. Caleb Rossiter from the CO2 Coalition hijacked the Democratic Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and the Democrats climate hearing on Capitol Hill on April 30. Dr. Rossiter upended the House Oversight Committee Environment subcommittee hearing on “The Public Effects” of climate change when he declared “CO2 emissions have had a positive and modest impact on Americans’ health.” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez saw her message “hijacked” by the skeptical scientist.
Ocasio-Cortez, who said she did not want to spend her allotted time to question witnesses solely to fact-check Rossiter, did do some of that. “Let’s get it back to the actual subject of this hearing,” she urged, “which is the impact of climate change on human health. We’re not debating whether climate change is real, and we’re not debating any of those attendant effects.” The 29-year-old legislator, who has spent less than six months in Washington, seemed to recognize that Rossiter’s presence, and incendiary claims, had become central to a hearing that was not supposed to be about coal, or its role in the 21st century economy. …
At Tuesday’s hearing, Caleb Rossiter of the CO2 Coalition, an organization whose mission is to highlight the “important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy,” played the role of spoiler. The group was co-founded by William Happer, a physicist who is now leading the Presidential Committee on Climate Security, a newly formed panel that many believe will be used to undermine established science on global warming. The CO2 Coalition is largely funded by conservative foundations, including those of the billionaire Koch and Mercer families. Rossiter was the last of the afternoon’s witnesses, and followed public health experts and medical doctors who described how global warming was not just an ecological disaster but approached epidemic levels in its human costs. Speaking in urgent, distressed tones, they described elevated levels of asthma and obesity, respiratory disease and food poisoning.
But Dr. Rossiter countered with a clear and concise scientific and health message, noting that “So far, CO2 emissions have had a positive and modest impact on Americans’ health” and adding that “weather mortality” has fallen. Rossiter touted development to help with the impacts of natural disasters, explaining “being wealthy saves lives.”
Update! AOC reveals how effective Dr. Rossiter was, prompting her to spew insutls. AOC Slams Rossiter as “a guy w/ a polka dot bowtie backed by oil lobbyists arguing that fossil fuels are’ healthy.’ HEALTHY. It’s embarrassing.” – AOC: ” One of the things that genuinely surprised me in Congress is the sheer mediocrity of witnesses called forth by the GOP in hearings. Yesterday they brought in a guy w/ a polka dot bowtie backed by oil lobbyists arguing that fossil fuels are “healthy.” HEALTHY. It’s embarrassing.”
One of the things that genuinely surprised me in Congress is the sheer mediocrity of witnesses called forth by the GOP in hearings.
Yesterday they brought in a guy w/ a polka dot bowtie backed by oil lobbyists arguing that fossil fuels are “healthy.” HEALTHY.
It’s embarrassing. https://t.co/B17AsEZuCP
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 2, 2019
Rossiter, adorned in a bow tie, had an altogether different message. Calling himself a “climate statistician,” he depicted his group as a lone truth-teller in a field otherwise besotted with alarmist predictions. “We save the people of the planet from people who think they are saving the planet,” Rossiter said in his opening statement. He then proceeded to tout the benefits of carbon dioxide, which is emitted when carbon is burned and traps heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
Dr. Caleb Rossiter testifies on Capitol Hill – April 30, 2019
“So far, CO2 emissions have had a positive and modest impact on Americans’ health,” Rossiter said. He said “weather mortality” has fallen because most weather-related deaths come during cold spells, which presumably become more rare as the planet warms.
Rossiter proceeded to show a slide of what he said was “a typical rural African dwelling.” The following slide showed a woman in traditional garb (Rossiter did not say which African country the images came from) cooking a meal over an open fire. He argued that fossil fuel-generated electricity was modernizing Africa and leading to better health outcomes.
“Being wealthy saves lives,” he said. [ALso see: Politically Left Scientist Dissents – Calls President Obama ‘delusional’ on global warming]
Rep. James Comer, who is the committee’s ranking member and represents coal-rich western Kentucky, mused about “the role that coal would play in helping more Americans escape poverty and maintain a higher state of health and well-being.”
Climate Change, Part II: The Public Health Effects
Environment subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee
Watch: Dr. Rossiter’s testimony begins at 1hr. 33 min into video
Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 – 2:00pm
Chairman Rouda, Ranking Member Comer, and Members of the Subcommittee:
I am honored to be invited to testify on Climate Change: The Impact on Public
Health. From my time on the congressional staff I developed a deep affection for
this American institution and a deep appreciation for the difficult job you all do for
all of us.
I am a climate statistician and the executive director of the CO2 Coalition, which
was founded by Princeton atmospheric physicist and hence climate scientist Will
Happer. Professor Happer is now President Trump’s national security director for
emerging technologies. As the Subcommittee knows from recent hearings, he
advocates a scientific review of claims that fossil-fueled climate change threatens
I represent our 46 members, who are atmospheric physicists, climatologists,
agronomists, geologists, ecologists, statisticians, medical doctors, and energy
economists. Our Coalition’s mission is science education. We are trying to save the
people of the planet from the people “saving the planet” from what has been – for
30 years — an always predicted but never realized climate catastrophe.
The Coalition published a White Paper on Climate Change and Health last fall. We
have provided copies with my testimony, and I hope the Chair will make the
electronic pdf we provided part of the record. The principal researchers for the
paper were two of our medical doctors and public health specialists, Jan Breslow,
professor at Rockefeller University and head of its Laboratory of Biochemical
Genetics and Metabolism, and Weston Allen, who p
First, the decisions Congress makes on whether to restrict fossil fuels and their
emissions of carbon dioxide will affect the health not just of Americans but of
people all over the world.
So far, CO2 emissions have had a modest, positive impact on public health in the
United States: they have increased plant productivity because CO2 is plant food,
and reduced mortality because CO2 has contributed to warming. And you have
already heard testimony in a previous hearing, the fracking revolution may have
averted many deaths here because it has reduced the price of home heating.
But it is in Africa that whether U.S. policy promotes or restricts fossil-fueled
electricity is truly a matter of life and death. Only 25 percent of African homes has
electricity. That explains much of why life expectancy in Africa is 20 years lower
than in the rest of the world.
Reliable electricity means that Africans don’t have to do their cooking and heating
with wood and animal dung. That dramatically reduces lung and heart disease.
Reliable electricity means that water can be purified for safe drinking. That
reduces the largest cause of child mortality.
My second reason for being pleased to testify is that I and the members of the CO2
Coalition were recently the object of an attempt by a member of this Subcommittee
to censor us by blocking our public appearances, and to defame us by stating that
we “deny established science.” To use the “climate denier” label over technical
disputes about immensely complex and uncertain computer models of the
combined atmosphere-land-ocean system is to make a shameful comparison to
kooks who deny the suffering of the victims of the Holocaust.
As I read through your recent hearings on Climate Change, I saw once again how
difficult your jobs are. You were exposed to two contradictory views of climate
science. First, former Senators Kerry and Hagel saw CO2 emissions behind
everything from the sinking land at a naval base to wildfires and hurricanes.
Similarly, Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia said: “The U.S. and the planet are buffeted
by extraordinary heat waves, droughts, floods, forest fires, and extreme storms.”
Second, Nicolas Loris of the Heritage Foundation testified, as Roger Pielke Jr. did
before the Science Committee in 2017, that UN IPCC and U.S. government data
show that rates of sea-level rise and extreme weather were the same during the
half-degree of early 20th century warming, which was almost entirely natural, as
during the half-degree warming since 1980, at least half of which the IPCC says
was due to industrial CO2.
What is the subcommittee to make of this dispute? I think that the answer was
actually provided in statements by the Chairman and Senator Hagel.
Chairman Rouda noted that in 1992, the United States and 154 nations agreed that
warming will occur from CO2 and that it “may adversely affect natural systems and
humankind.” The CO2 Coalition are in complete agreement with that statement, as
a scientific fact. Then Senator Hagel testified that: “Scientists reduced uncertainty
about climate change over the last two decades.” And we agree with that too.
That’s because we look at the actual data that scientists have collected during this
period. Science is fundamentally the testing of hypotheses with data. The data are
what country singer Porter Wagoner calls, “the cold, hard facts of life.” And the
cold, hard fact is that the “may” in the 1992 agreement remains possible, but has
not yet occurred.
Using the IPCC’s own words and data, Professor Pielke and Professor Judith Curry
have shown that decadal rates of drought, storms, flooding, hurricanes, cyclones,
tornados, and the rate of sea-level rise have not registered any statisticallysignificant change during the recent period of warming that was partially induced
Here are the quotations and their sources:
IPCC AR5 (2014): “It is very likely that the mean rate of global averaged sea level
rise was 1.7 (1.5 to 1.9) mm/year between 1901 and 2010…and 3.2 (2.8 to 3.6)
mm/year between 1993 and 2010. It is likely that similarly high rates occurred
between 1920 and 1950.” (Curry Sea-level paper,
IPCC AR5 (2014): There is not enough evidence to support medium or high
confidence of attribution of increasing trends to anthropogenic forcings as a result
of observational uncertainties and variable results from region to region…we
conclude consistent with SREX that there is low confidence in detection and
attribution of changes in drought over global land areas since the mid-20th century.
(Pielke Jr. testimony, https://republicansscience.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG115-SY-WState-RPielke-20170329.pdf)
IPCC AR5 (2014): In summary there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus
low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of
floods on a global scale.” Ibid.
IPCC AR5 (2014): Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in
global cyclone frequency over the past century… No robust trends in annual
numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes have been identified
in the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.” Ibid.
So climate catastrophe may happen, and we need to maintain vigilant scientific
inquiry. But it hasn’t happened yet. That, too, is a cold, hard fact.
So now that we have disposed of our current fears, let’s look at the issue of fossil
fuels, carbon dioxide, and public health.
Humanity thrived during long periods considerably warmer than now and suffered
terribly during cold periods, such as the preindustrial Little Ice Age. In most
countries, winters are still much more lethal than summers. Globally, cold weather
kills many times more people than hot weather, and modelling indicates that it will
continue to do so regardless of greenhouse gas emissions.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) primarily affects minimum temperatures at
night, in winter and high latitudes. This reduces temperature variability, the diurnal
temperature range and hence cardiac and COPD mortality, asthma, respiratory
infections and even gastroenteritis. Whereas heatwaves have a great effect on the
those about to die, cold spells have more prolonged effects on respiratory,
cardiovascular and stroke mortality.
The relationship between climate and vector-borne disease is complex. Despite
global warming from 1900 to 2012, the malaria mortality rate per capita declined
95 percent. The recent upsurge in dengue is due primarily to rapid urbanization and
international travel. The reason Chikungunya virus spread rapidly after 2005 was a
genomic micro-evolution enabling it to be transmitted by the mosquito, Aedes
albopictus, which may be adversely affected by future warming and CO2
fertilization of plants. Warm El Niño events actually reduce the transmission of
tick-born encephalitis. Modeling of Lyme disease in the U.S. projects an expansion
into Canada and a retreat from the southern states, resulting in an overall reduction
in the exposed population.
Extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods, droughts and tornadoes are not
increasing in incidence or lives lost. Indeed, the global mortality from all weatherrelated natural disasters declined by 99 percent while the population trebled after
1920, thanks to improved economies and technologies. Food production and
calorie consumption per capita continue to increase, thanks to the green revolution,
increased CO2 fertilization and longer growing seasons. Fossil fuels contribute
enormously to the production, safe storage and transport of food and thus to human
nutrition. Modeling indicates an inverse relationship between future global water
stress and emissions.
Air pollution kills about 7 million people annually, and the major culprit is not
fossil fuels, but burning biomass (wood, dung and crop waste). The provision of
affordable electricity for cooking and heating of homes in developing countries
could save millions of lives annually. Air quality in the developed world has
improved greatly since the 1970s, thanks to catalytic converters, scrubbers and
precipitators, removing 97 percent of the sulfur dioxide and 99 percent of coal’s fly
ash. Coal power in the U.S. is 17 times safer than that in India and China.
Energy costs need to be kept as low as possible, especially in cold climates, so that
poor people can afford to keep warm in winter. For every death from heat, there
are twenty from cold. Fossil fuels, including clean-coal will continue to have an
important role to play in advancing civilization and human health over the 21st
century. Our focus should be on conservation and health-promoting activities
rather than on CO2 and climate change. Unmitigated warming this century is likely
to be less than 1 degree Celsius and thus more beneficial than harmful for
humanity and perhaps for the planet.
The latest IPCC Summary for Policymakers states: “The most effective
vulnerability-reducing measures for health in the near term are programs that
implement and improve basic public health measures such as provision of clean
water and sanitation, secure essential health care including vaccination and child
health services, increase capacity for disaster preparedness and response, and
alleviate poverty (very high confidence).”
We agree with the IPCC. There’s no denying that we are part of that scientific
consensus. But those solutions are not possible without cheap, reliable energy.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
* * *