Michael Battalio

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A letter to a congressman (part 2):

I had a chance to talk with Rep. Lamar Smith who is the Chair to the House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology. We talked about his meddling with NSF funding. I argued that politicians should not oversee science. Scientists should. But all he could do was quote the same soundbites over and over. I think there should be a scientist in chief, but that is for another discussion.
I want to reproduce a letter I wrote to Rep. Smith about an interview I saw of him on Bloomberg TV where he trotted out the same incorrect platitudes of global warming denialism. This occurred about two months ago. I do not expect a response since I am not his constituent.

Rep. Smith,
        I will be upfront. I am not one of your constituents, but as you are in a powerful position as Chair of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I feel it permissible to give you an informed opinion from outside your district.
        I had the honor to speak with you when you visited students at Texas A&M on October 29. We argued at length about NSF funding; however, had I known the extent of climate change denial you have recently engaged in, I would have addressed that in my question. In a recent interview to Bloomberg TV, you said the following, “There are a lot of scientists who disagree [with the IPCC report]…. we’ve now had close to 18 years of no global warming….Nobody can explain that….[the IPCC report authors] are clearly biased.”
        To keep this short I will address only one misunderstanding. Global warming has slowed yes, but to say that there is no warming is disingenuous. The trend for temperature is still upwards, and in checking the climate record, there are several periods where the trend slows only to resume its upward march after a brief respite. These stalls can be explained by increased heat retention in the oceans, which has been measured (Balmaseda, 2013). I invite one of your staffers to read (and then summarize for you) Trenberth et al. (2014) which more fully explains the latest trends.
        I do not doubt that you will believe this to be more “bias” from liberal scientists gunning for more research money from the corrupt NSF. I would point out that large contributions from Oil and Gas companies ($94,450 in this most recent election) have been made to your campaign. Who really should be accusing who of bias? An issue as intricate as this cannot be resolved via email. I invite you or some of your staffers to again visit TAMU to speak directly to our world renown climate scientists. I would also personally welcome the opportunity to debate the nuance that seems to be lost on whomever is summarizing these reports for you.
        As I am not a constituent I do not expect a response; my only hope is that whatever staffer reads this will convey the invitation I have extended to speak with members of the Dept. of Atmospheric Science at Texas A&M (or visit any of the other great Texas universities. There is agreement among the climate scientists at all of them.) I look forward to any debate that comes of this.

Thank you.
Michael Battalio


Balmaseda, Magdalena A., Trenberth, Kevin E., and Källén, Erland, 2013: “Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content” Geophys. Res. Let. 40 (9) 1754-1759 doi: 10.1002/grl.50382.

Trenberth, Kevin E. Fasullo, John T., Branstator, Grant, and Phillips Adam S., 2014: “Seasonal aspects of the recent pause in surface warming”, Nature Clim. Change. 4 (10) 911-916. doi: 10.1038/nclimate2341.

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