If GOP Gets Climate ‘Science’ From Breitbart, God Help the Planet
4 December 2016 — FAIR
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ responded to the committee’s tweet: “Where’d you get your PhD? Trump University?”
Where’d you get your PhD? Trump University? https://t.co/P5Ez5fVEwD
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 1, 2016
Sadly, Sanders’ quip isn’t too far from the truth. Breitbart is an outlet notorious for publishing false and hateful articles, and its CEO, Steve O’Bannon, is now the chief strategist for President-elect Donald Trump—meaning that even if Trump doesn’t read a Breitbart article, there’s a good chance that it will influence his worldview.
Breitbart belongs to the “I have to wear a hat, how can there be global warming?” school of climate science.
The article—by Breitbart’s James Delingpole (11/30/16)—centers on the fact that global temperatures, which reached an all-time peak in March 2016, have declined since then—news “that has been greeted with an eerie silence by the world’s alarmist community,” Breitbart reports. In fact, no one should be surprised that record-high temperatures are followed by lower temperatures—any more than one should be surprised that next to the world’s tallest tree is another tree that, though also a redwood, is not the world’s tallest.
Breitbart makes much of the fact that El Niño, a cyclic Pacific Ocean weather phenomenon, has contributed to record temperatures this year and last year—as though the observation that El Niño years are warmer than usual were not a reality understood and acknowledged by every climate scientist.
As the Columbia University’s Earth Institute (State of the Planet, 2/2/16) reported early this year:
Even without El Niño, 2015 would have been a record warm year, but climate scientists believe El Niño was responsible for 8 percent to 10 percent of the warming. Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, estimated that El Niño accounted for 0.07?C of the above average warming that occurred in 2015.
The unavoidable fact is that global temperatures have been steadily rising for more than a century—with the result that hotter-than-normal years set all-time records, while cooler-than-normal years would have broken heat records if they had occurred a decade or two earlier:
Dark line is a five-year average–to smooth out the annual variation that Breitbart pretends explains record-breaking global heat. (Source: NASA)
The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, chaired by climate-change denier Lamar Smith, has unsuccessfully in the past tried to slash NASA’s budget (Washington Post, 11/23/16). Trump’s space policy advisor, Bob Walker, has suggested that all NASA’s climate research—what he calls “politically correct climate monitoring”—should be eliminated, telling the Guardian (11/23/16):
I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr. Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.
Trump’s first pick to lead the transition at NASA, Christopher Shank, is likewise an outspoken climate denier (Intercept, 12/1/16):
The rhetoric that’s coming out, the hottest year in history, actually is not backed up by the science—or that the droughts, the fires, the hurricanes, etc., are caused by climate change, but it’s just weather.
These people don’t have any independent expertise in climate science; Smith is a lawyer, Walker has a master’s in political science and Shank’s degree is in aerospace engineering. If they’re getting their information about climate disruption from sites like Breitbart, a fraudulent degree from Trump University would probably be a better education.
Rohit Chandan is a freelance writer and editorial intern at FAIR. Jim Naureckas is the editor of FAIR.org.
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