11 April 2019

Hey Kentucky, Your Congressman Thinks You’re Foolish

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Former Sec. of State John Kerry ran into a climate denial time machine today in Congress. The clip from CNN is below. Watch it, and then I’ll explain what Kentucky Congressman Massie doesn’t seem to understand about Earth’s climate.

The question I have is why did he didn’t just ask an atmospheric scientist?? I think I know the answer, so read on.

Watch the clip:

So here is the NOAA graph of the CO2 from the last 800,000 years:

It’s true that if you go back 5, 20, or especially 50 million years ago, the CO 2 levels were much higher.  The world was also much hotter. It was so warm fifty million years ago, there was probably no ice at the Poles. The more carbon in the atmosphere, the hotter the planet gets.

So here’s the thing, Congressman Massie:

If you’d just asked, you would have been told we know Earth’s climate changes naturally for several reasons and the natural carbon cycle is one of them. Milankovitch cycles are another. Fortunately, these cycles act over many thousands of years and change is very slow; far longer than 2 or 3 lifetimes in all but the rarest cases. It’s really not that hard to understand the basics. There are actually only three things that control the planet’s temperature (read about them here).

The problem now is that humans are changing the CO2 levels in what is in geologic terms, an instant. That’s what the graph above shows and this is why we are in such trouble. There were no humans 5 million years ago and no cities and the change was incredibly slow. Now the change is apparent even in half a lifetime and there ARE cities and 7 billion people who want dinner tonight. Oh, and all our biggest naval bases for some reason (who would have thought) are located at sea level.

So, the rapid change is the real problem and your specious claim that the climate has always changed while true shows your total ignorance of the subject. Which brings me to the second reason we are in trouble: We are electing people to Congress who are scientifically illiterate and have no desire to pick up the phone or write an email to find out what the science says.

Or perhaps I am wrong. Massie has an engineering degree from MIT, and I bet he does know the truth. I think he was just telling his voters the myth they want to hear, and believes his voters are not smart enough to ask some basic questions about our climate.

I could be wrong on both accounts, but that’s the thing about a democracy, you get what you vote for.