Climate scientist Ray Pierrehumbert: “Paul Ryan Is a Climate Change Denialist”


“Classic denialist dogma,” Prof. Pierrehumbert calls Ryan’s most explicit statement of his views on climate change. Romney and Ryan couldn’t be setting the bar any lower for Obama to look good on climate change, if the President ever decides to talk about the problem other than mentioning it in talking to audiences of college students.

Obama on the stump:  Obama To College Students: ‘Denying Climate Change Won’t Make It Stop’. Seriously!

Raymond Pierrehumbert is the Louis Block Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, having earlier served on the atmospheric science faculties of MIT and Princeton. He was a lead author of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, and is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. Writing in Slate on August 29, he says (excerpt; see full text here):

Paul Ryan Is a Climate Change Denialist

…With his pick of Ryan, who will address the Republican National Convention tonight, Romney has declared himself to be firmly behind the notion that we can go on burning fossil fuels forever without running out or damaging the climate.

The most explicit statement of Ryan’s climate change views appears in this 2009 op-ed, and since he still features it on his official website, we can take it as an indication of his beliefs. And what a litany of classic denialist dogma it is. He starts off with a cheap shot by implying that Wisconsin residents ought to have a hard time believing that global warming is a problem because they still had to shovel snow in the winter of 2009. Of course, it is absurd to think that any one winter says anything about global warming, still less to think that continued existence or even increase of snowfall is in any way incompatible with overall warming. If Ryan wanted to keep things local, he would have done better to talk to ice fishermen on the Wisconsin lakes, who have seen a dramatic decrease in the duration of ice cover over the past decades.

In this op-ed, Ryan reveals a number of still more alarming beliefs, notably that emails stolen from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit (aka Climategate) show that “leading climatologists make clear efforts to use statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change,” and reveal “a perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion.” … In fact, the hack was a manufactured controversy, and the real victims were the scientists whose emails were stolen. All have been exonerated completely by numerous independent panels, to say nothing of the fact that the key finding of the Climate Research Unit regarding the global temperature increase has been independently reproduced by the project of now-former-skeptic Richard Muller, who even received Koch funding for his study.

Elsewhere, Ryan wrote that “there is growing disagreement among scientists about climate change and its causes,” which is manifestly not true (see here and here) at least in the reality-based community where one counts only those with real scientific credentials and a track record of having done serious research in the subject. In that article, though, Ryan’s statement is tangential to his main beef, which is his belief that cap and trade will cost money and hurt the economy. Like so much of Ryan’s economic policy, this belief is based on voodoo economics which counts costs but ignores all benefits—in this case ignoring the harm done by climate change, and the money saved by using energy more efficiently, and the value of health benefits from the concomitant reduction in conventional air pollution. …

Like almost all Republicans, he supports the climate-killing Keystone XL pipeline. Most tellingly, in a stunning attempt to legislate away a scientific conclusion, he voted to repeal the EPA finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health—the basis for EPA regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. Despite increasing evidence of the vulnerability of U.S. agriculture to global warming, he voted to bar the Department of Agriculture from implementing its climate change adaptation plan. …

S. Fred Singer, one of the favorite consultants of the Heartland Institute (responsible recently for this billboard) declared Paul Ryan to be “the perfect anti-Gore.” Marc Morano, the Swift Boat mastermind who was point man for Sen. James Inhofe’s jihad against climate science before setting up his own denial shop at ClimateDepot, has even more lavish praise for Ryan: It will be so refreshing to have a VP candidate who actually understands how warmists like James Hansen, Michael Oppenheimer, Michael Mann, Phil Jones, & Kevin Trenberth have perverted science and turned it into pure politics.” : “Rep. Paul Ryan has an awesome energy & climate record. What’s more, “According to his voting record on energy and oil, Ryan is about as conservative as they come.” …

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2 Responses to Climate scientist Ray Pierrehumbert: “Paul Ryan Is a Climate Change Denialist”

  1. Ken Forest says:

    Here in the far northern end of BC Canada, I am now growing apple trees and cherry trees which I could not do thirty years ago.

    Once the bread basket of the USA stops producing food, brought on by continuous drought, will the northern Canadian borders start looking to our southern neighbors like the US/Mexican border does to Mexicans? Will we need to build a wall on our border because of our warmer weather, low population and abundant water? What would Romney do if his country was running out of the essentials for life? Is that why he wants to expand his military and ensure that everyone is armed to the teeth?

  2. bobarl says:

    Ken Forrest is in a great position to see for himself how climate is changing. He may find himself in an area that may temporarily benefit from climate change if temperatures warm there and may provide a source for fruits and vegetables which places in this country can’t provide any longer. If Romney and Ryan win this election, and if Romney does what he has promised in this campaign, I shudder to think of what changes will occur to scientific organizations in this country especially if they are controlled by Congress. I believe they want to abolish or make changes to agencies like EPA and NASA and I’m sure those changes will be made weaker and less able to protect our lands, water and air.

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