[Vision2020] 11-8-17: Climate Denier Lamar Smith Holds Rare Congressional Hearing on Geoengineering

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Fri Nov 10 19:35:21 PST 2017

Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
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It is ironic in the extreme that as humanity is already, unwittingly,
geo-engineering the Earth's climate via fossil fuel CO2 atmospheric
emissions, and other impacts, a denier of this well established scientific
phenomenon holds a congressional hearing on what is well known to be an
experimental gamble, geo-engineering as a solution to "climate change,"
which some continue to insist is a result of natural variables, not human

Hasn't the esteemed congressman been informed by the commander in chief
that global warming is a Chinese hoax?  Why worry!?

Climate Denier Lamar Smith Holds Rare Congressional Hearing on

By Steve Horn <https://www.desmogblog.com/user/steve-horn> • Thursday,
November 9, 2017

Geoengineering, hailed in some circles as a potential technofix to the
climate change crisis, has taken a step closer to going mainstream.

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a rare
joint subcommittee hearing
on November 8, only the second ever congressional hearing of its kind on
the topic (the first was held in 2009
The committee invited expert witnesses to discuss the status of
geoengineering research and development. Geoengineering is a broad term
encompassing sophisticated scientific techniques meant to reverse the
impacts of climate change or pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Ironically, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is chaired by
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith <https://www.desmogblog.com/lamar-smith> — a climate
science denier who has received tens of thousands of dollars
in campaign contributions from ExxonMobil throughout his political career.
In fact, Smith actually mentioned “climate change” in his opening remarks
for the hearing, in discussing his interest in geoengineering.

“As the climate continues to change, geoengineering could become a tool to
curb resulting impacts,” said Smith
who recently announced he will not run for relection in 2018
“Instead of forcing unworkable and costly government mandates on the
American people, we should look to technology and innovation to lead the
way to address climate change. Geoengineering should be considered when
discussing technological advances to protect the environment.”

In the past, Smith has denied climate change in stark terms, referring to
those who believe in climate science as “alarmists
<https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-climate-change-religion-1429832149>” in a
2015 op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal.

“Climate alarmists have failed to explain the lack of global warming over
the past 15 years,” Smith said at the time. “They simply keep adjusting
their malfunctioning climate models to push the supposedly looming disaster
further into the future.”

Smith has since pivoted to less skepticism about the science, saying at a March
2017 congressional hearing
that “climate is changing and humans play a role” and that it's now just a
question of the “extent” to which human activity is the culprit (it is

So perhaps geoengineering, labeled by its critics for years now as a false
solution to the climate crisis, will be a “pivot” of sorts for converted
deniers and their bankrollers?
Climate Change Talk Off the Table

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment
for the House Science Committee, explicitly took climate change debate off
the table at the November 8 hearing, stating that conversation should only
center around the future of geoengineering research.

“The purpose of this hearing is to discuss the viability of geoengineering
and any early-stage research associated with this approach,” said Biggs
“The hearing is not a platform to further the debate about climate change.
Instead, its aim is to explore approaches and technologies that have been
discussed in the scientific community and to assess the basic research
needed to better understand the merits of these ideas.”

Those testifying followed suit, with a consensus reached that a governance
framework must be created to regulate geoengineering research and potential
future deployment. The presenters all pushed the idea of geoengineering
techniques such as solar radiation management
<https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate1528>, cloud seeding
and marine cloud brightening

Geoengineering, according to its critics, is a distraction from the actual
challenge of halting dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions and
subsequent runaway climate change. Critics also say the approach is a
potential danger in and of itself because its techniques are a literal
re-engineering of the atmospheric system, with unpredictable side effects.

Naomi Klein, author of the book *This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs.
The * <https://thischangeseverything.org/book/>*Climate
<https://thischangeseverything.org/book/>*, has been among the more
outspoken critics of geoengineering.

“Geoengineering offers the tantalizing promise of a climate change fix that
would allow us to continue our resource-exhausting way of life,
indefinitely,” wrote Klein in 2012 in The New York Times
“And then there is the fear. Every week seems to bring more terrifying
climate news, from reports of ice sheets melting ahead of schedule to
oceans acidifying far faster than expected.”

DeSmog has also covered a proposed version of geoengineering called biochar
in a multi-part investigative series
noting that much of the research on the topic so far has been funded
by companies such as ConocoPhillips, Cenovus, ExxonMobil, and others.
Exxon, in fact, studied geoengineering
<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/036054429500035F#!> at
its research campus in Annandale, New Jersey, in the 1990s while also funding
climate change denial
'Not a Silver Bullet'

For now, even geoengineering proponents have become spooked over the
interest climate science deniers have started showing in geoengineering. On
the same day as the House Science Committee hearing, 24 researchers delivered a
expressing concern about the premise of the congressional hearing and what
could arise from it moving forward.

“Geoengineering is not a silver bullet, and treating it as one could
greatly increase already severe climate change risks,” they wrote to the
committee. “While further research could help address questions about the
proposed technologies’ efficacy, risks, and cost-effectiveness, we already
know that geoengineering, including solar radiation management and carbon
dioxide removal approaches, can at best be a supplement to reducing sources
of greenhouse gas emissions and increasing our ability to cope with the
effects of climate change.”

Included among the 24 scientists is Harvard's pioneering geoengineering
researcher David Keith <https://keith.seas.harvard.edu/>, who has been among
the most enthusiastic supporters
of geoengineering within academia. Speaking as an individual, Keith also
recently communicated his apprehension about the Trump administration
potentially taking an unscrupulous interest in pushing geoengineering.

“In some ways the thing we fear the most is a tweet from Trump saying
‘Solar geoengineering solves everything — it’s great! We don’t need to
bother to cut emissions,'” Keith said at a November 7 forum
“That would just really make it hard to proceed in a sensible way.”

In fact, those close to the Trump administration, which is rife with
climate science deniers, have shown some interest in geoengineering
to a degree not seen in the Obama administration. Yet whether President
Donald Trump <https://www.desmogblog.com/donald-trump> is willing to
finance geoengineering research to the tune of $5-10 million per year,
as proposed
by one hearing witness
remains to be seen.
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