It’s not easy to rake in a decent five figure salary these days. Sure, you could be a police sergeant, an entry-level weapons designer at Lockheed or Kel-Tec, or a congressional secretary. You could be a day-trader on Wall Street, middle-management in human resources at a bank, or a decent air conditioner repairman. You could run a political blog. But not everyone enjoys the ambition of those skillsets. No, for the laziest, dumbest and most inept, there are only two ways to cash yourself a fat $50K paycheck: climatology or theoretical physics.
We don’t know how much celebrated theoretical physicist and White House Science Adviser Dr. John P. Holdren makes, but he certainly earned it today. On Wednesday of this week, Holdren appeared before the Republican-Controlled House Committee on Science, Space and Technology — which is kind of like an ethics council led by necrophiliacs.
The matter under discussion: “Is climate change a real thing, and how can our sponsors get out of paying for it?” Actually, it was supposed to be on Obama’s plan to fight said climate change, but being the GOP, this one turned into an inquisition on reality itself. Probably because almost all of the questions the Committee asked have already been answered elsewhere.
But still…when you’re being paid to question reality itself, there’s no sense stopping just because your questions have already been answered. Here are a few of Big Oil/Tobacco’s most dazzling, as thoroughly violated by Holdren:
“Global Wobbling” — Steve Stockman (R-TX), representing Koch Industries, Exxon-Mobil and Big Oil
“How can you take an element which you give to the credit for the collapse of global freezing and into global warming but leave it out of your models? I’m a little puzzled because we still don’t have metrics of how to determine global wobbling.”
The phenomenon he refers to is the Earth’s natural cycle (over the course of 22,000, 44,000 and 100,000 years) of tilting backward and forward on its axis. Wobble is said to have ended the last ice age, and has caused climate change before. He wants to know why climate scientists don’t talk about something that ended the last ice age.
Holdren’s answer: They do. But A) Something that happens over the course of $100K years isn’t going to cause a temperature spike in 100 years, and B) Even accounting for wobble, the Earth should be in a cooling cycle right now.
“But,” he said. “The warming inflicted by human activities has overwhelmed the effect of global wobbling.”
Exxon’s second question: If melting ice in a glass of water doesn’t cause the glass to overflow, then why would the sea levels rise two feet? “It’s displacement,” he said. “This is some of the things that they’re talking about that mathematically and scientifically don’t make sense.”
Holdren was cut off before being given a chance to answer. But, Mr. Exxon, it actually does make sense. First, because a lot of the ice isn’t in the glass. It’s on the surface of the Earth in glaciers, in Antarctica, in permafrost and on mountaintops. Second, because water actually does expand as it warms. How much? If the 187 Quintillion (187 and 18 zeroes) gallons of water on Earth right now increased in temperature by just 2 degrees Celsius, it would increase in volume by about 9 QUADRILLION GALLONS. That’s a “9” with 16 zeroes behind it — and this increase in volume is just the effects of a temperature rise alone.
But, you know…you won’t find that in a glass of water. Common sense, and all. Shame Common Sense can’t look up a Specific Gravity table, or use Google and a calculator. Good thing we have scientists for that.
“Health Impacts of CO2” — Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Representing the National Auto Dealer’s Association, Chemical Manufacturing and Signal Hill Petroleum.
“Vice Chairman Rorhabacher, I always enjoy my interactions with you. I have to say, with respect, that’s a red herring. We are not interested in carbon dioxide concentrations because of their direct effect on human health, we are interested in them because of their effect on the world’s climate, and climate change has effects on human health.”
In other words:
“It’s not the bullets that are killing people — it’s the holes. But the bullets are causing the holes. So there’s your problem.”
“How would one country’s climate policy affect anything?” — Larry Buchson (R-IN), representing Heavy Mining Industry, Peabody Energy (Coal) and Koch Industries
“The limitation of carbon emissions in the United states is a very important first step for us to take on a longer trajectory to meet the President’s goals of a 17 percent reduction from 2005 by 2020, and ultimately an 80 percent reduction by 2050. If the United States does not take that sort of action, it is unlikely that other major emitters in the world — China, India, Russia, Europe, Japan — will do so either. And the fact is, all of us need to reduce our carbon emissions if we are to avoid unmanageable degrees of climate change.”
Buchson, surprisingly gracefully answered “Okay. Fair enough.”
Charlie Koch would not approve.
But he would approve of Larry’s concordant dig at Holdren and ALL climate scientists, who he claims he doesn’t trust because “they’re just in it for the money.”
The guy with a $50,000-a-year-job did not get the chance to respond to that. Mostly because the guys who cashed $100,000 checks from Exxon, Big Coal and Koch Industries had further questions as to his integrity.