As members of the House of Representatives deliberated over the future of American healthcare on Thursday, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, from Texas, ducked out to do one of his most favorite things: tell Americans that climate change isn't real.
The chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology left the stress on the Hill of trying to rankle Republican votes to upend American healthcare, and instead rolled over to the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC to give the keynote address at the ironically titled, 12th International Conference on Climate Change—an event put on by the conservative think tank and largest peddler of climate skepticism, the Heartland Institute.
Standing before a crowd of a couple hundred mostly white, 60-something year old men in suits with expensive watches, Smith gave the best boast he could to win over a crowd of hard line fossil fuel acolytes. In just the last congress alone, he said, "I issued 25 subpoenas to the EPA." Rapturous applause followed.
Smith pulled from his deep scientific experience in managing his family ranch and practicing law to make his case on climate change.
He lambasted the previous administration, saying they "promoted a political agenda rather than sound science." A prime example of this, he said, was that United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a leading authority on the matter, "found that there is low confidence that drought has increased in intensity or duration."
The IPCC, does state, however, that over the next century, the proportion of land in extreme drought will increase by a factor of 10 to 30, and the number of extreme drought events will increase by a factor of two to six.
"The days of 'trust me science' are over."
He ignored the "persecuted Galileo" persona that he said many climate skeptics don for their own benefit, and instead made the claim that they are among the majority. But that contradicts other survey data that almost 70 percent of Americans believe climate change is happening and that carbon emissions should indeed be scaled back.
Americans are "tired of scare tactics and misleading information," he said, continuing amongst cheers and claps from the crowd, "the days of 'trust me science' are over."
The congressman, well known for his outspoken rejection of the overwhelming scientific consensus underlying climate change, has received more than $675,000 from the fossil fuel industry since 1998.
He ended his short speech by reminding the crowd of who their real enemy is in this "global warming war," a term regularly referred to at the conference: the media. "Never use the word 'mainstream media" he said, with a finger raised to the audience, "because they don't reflect mainstream thought. Use the word 'liberal media."