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More Waxman Hot Air

With the Inhofe-Upton bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s far-reaching  greenhouse-gas regulations gaining Democrat as well as Republican supporters and co-sponsors, Rep. Henry Waxman not surprisingly is running scared. Tomorrow, he will hold a hearing on climate science — this time to address recent snowstorms and extreme weather, what he calls “mounting scientific evidence linking strange and dangerous weather to rising carbon levels in the atmosphere.”

Waxman’s smoking gun? Two reports published last month in Nature — see here and here  — that hold climate change “may be responsible for the increases in heavy precipitation that have been observed over much of the Northern Hemisphere#…#over the past several decades.”

Andrew Revkin’s blog posts on the Nature studies and their media coverage are worth a read —here and here. Hardly a skeptic sympathizer, Revkin nonetheless bemoans what he calls the “inadequate accountability in the news business for oversimplifications that overplay the front-page thought” on the Nature studies:

[T]his does raise big questions about the standards scientists and journals use in summarizing complex work and the justifiable need for journalists — and readers — to explore such work as if it has a ‘handle with care’ sign attached.


In the policy arena, the eagerness to trim away caveats is even more pronounced, as was the case when climate treaty negotiators in Cancun erroneously oversimplified the core finding of the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In that instance, the error was fixed.

Revkin, who says the Nature research “is not definitive at all,” also reminds his readers that extreme weather is nothing new and has occurred “going back several millenniums.” He links to a 2002 New York Times article he wrote which is worth a read:

Four times since the last ice age, at intervals roughly 3,000 years apart, the Northeast has been struck by cycles of storms far more powerful than any in recent times, according to a new study. The region appears to have entered a fifth era in which such superstorms are more likely, the researchers say.


[T]he work illustrates that natural extremes of weather — what one researcher, Paul R. Bierman, a geologist at the University of Vermont, called a “drumbeat of storminess” — are many times greater than those experienced in the modern era.

You can read the whole article here.

— Dana Joel Gattuso is director of the Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Dana Joel Gattuso

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More Waxman Hot Air

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