Lamar Smith is a well-known climate denialist. Unfortunately, not only is he the elected U.S. Representative for Texas’s 21st congressional district, but he is also the Head of the House Science Committee. That is a position that he has abused by holding hearings that grant a platform to climate change deniers, and has also utilised this position to conduct “witch hunts” against climate scientists. What is actually happening is rather transparently clear. He has been personally funded by the oil and gas industry to the tune of $600,000, and so he promotes their interests.
Least you are concerned that he might perhaps have a valid view and is simply being misrepresented, only a couple of months ago he disparaged the most prestigious science journal on the planet and instead cited Breitbart as a credible source.
Smith’s Bizarre Heritage Editorial
His latest gem is to write an editorial within the online news site for the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundations …
Let’s review a couple of his claims.
Claim: A higher concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere would aid photosynthesis
A higher concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere would aid photosynthesis, which in turn contributes to increased plant growth. This correlates to a greater volume of food production and better quality food. Studies indicate that crops would utilize water more efficiently, requiring less water. And colder areas along the farm belt will experience longer growing seasons.
Does he link to any of these studies so that the reader can validate this claim in context?
Does he in fact explain that crop yields are not just about CO2, but that many other factors also play a rather important role as well?
It is simplistic ignorance. Unlike him, I will cite specific studies. Crop Yield has been studied, no seriously, it really has, and the conclusion does not support the stance Mr Smith is taking that increasing CO2 will be jolly good for crops. Instead the key message from such studies (see this link) is this …
Climate disruptions to agricultural production have increased in the past 40 years and are projected to increase over the next 25 years. By mid-century and beyond, these impacts will be increasingly negative on most crops and livestock.
The reason he does not point you to the studies he refers to is because he has cherry picked a few things that support his stance and discarded the actual overall conclusion. That is not simply a “misunderstanding”, but instead is deliberate unadulterated deception.
Claim: The world’s vegetated areas are becoming 25-50 percent greener
The world’s vegetated areas are becoming 25-50 percent greener, according to satellite images. Seventy percent of this greening is due to a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Greater vegetation assists in controlling water runoff, provides more habitats for many animal species, and even aids in climate stabilization, as more vegetation absorbs more carbon dioxide. When plant diversity increases, these vegetated areas can better eliminate carbon from the atmosphere.
It is true that we are indeed seeing this greening. Once again this is very simplistic short-term thinking that does not tell you the whole story. CO2, as a greenhouse gas. Increasing it leads to warming, and that in the longer term will lead to a dryer climate in regions where such vegetation flourishes. When the earth previously reached the levels of CO2 that we have already emitted, it was a lot hotter. The response of the climate system to these increased levels is slow and so we have already committed ourselves to ever increasing global temperatures.
Claim: we are seeing beneficial changes to the earth’s geography
Also, as the Earth warms, we are seeing beneficial changes to the earth’s geography. For instance, Arctic sea ice is decreasing. This development will create new commercial shipping lanes that provide faster, more convenient, and less costly routes between ports in Asia, Europe, and eastern North America. This will increase international trade and strengthen the world economy.
White ice reflects solar radiation back out into space. Darker open sea will instead absorb that and so the entire climate system will be taking in even more energy. That will inevitably lead to even more warming.
It is true that it would indeed “create new commercial shipping lanes that provide faster, more convenient, and less costly routes”, but if all the shipping ports are under water due to the inevitable increase in sea level, that is is not exactly going to be very “convenient“.
There is enough frozen ice in Greenland to raise sea level by roughly 7 meters. Add Antarctica into the mix and you then have enough to raise sea level by another 60 meters.
I do confess that I’m truly struggling to grasp how any of this would be “convenient” or “beneficial“.
What do others think about his Editorial?
“It is an extremely unbalanced assessment and has many things wrong,” – Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research
“Representative Smith’s comments extend beyond nonsense into what can only be called lies,” – Howard Frumkin, an environmental and occupational health sciences professor at the University of Washington.
— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) July 31, 2017
— Daily Climate (@TheDailyClimate) July 26, 2017
— Lapsed Catholic (@atheyst) July 26, 2017
— J. Diaz (@miocid) July 25, 2017