WASHINGTON (CN) - Drawing the battle lines on the House floor, Rep. Lamar Smith opened a hearing of the science committee he chairs by condemning modern climate science.
Though he agreed that the climate is changing, and that humans play a role in said change, the Texas Republican blasted the prevailing science as unsound.
"Alarmist theories on climate science originate with scientists who operate outside the principles of the scientific method,” Smith told the gathering of the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology.
Representing a district of central Texas in the House since 1987, Smith went to law school in the 1970s after writing about business and finance for the Christian Science Monitor. Smith is himself a Christian Scientist. The religion is rooted in the idea of healing medical ailments through prayer.
Brushing off any efforts to understand the future of climate as "not credible,” Smith said the field can offer only "wild guesses,” derived from exaggerated data, personal agendas and questionable predictions.
Smith said the matter needs objectivity, but three out of the four scientists he invited to testify Wednesday deny that humans caused climate change.
Given the 97 percent global consensus of scientists who say climate change is real and manmade, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici quipped that the experts appeared uneven.
“For a truly balanced panel, we'd need 96 more Dr. Manns here today," she said.
Along with Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, the panel included Judith Curry, president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network; John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center in Alabama; and Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado. Curry, Christy and Pielke have each appeared before the committee no less than 20 times in the last decade.
Wednesday’s hearing was advertised as a look into policy and scientific method, but the lawmakers did not get far beyond arguments over controversial and frequently debunked climate-science theories.
"Those who disagree with the mainstream are being brutalized into silence," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., meanwhile argued that the last ice age is "proof" that humans aren't responsible for warming.
When Mann, the climate-change supporter, brought up an article from Science magazine, Chairman Smith chastised Mann for bringing up the journal, saying it is not known as an objective one.
"Well, it is 'Science' magazine," Mann responded.
Amid the partisan fighting, Pielke reminded the committee of at least one incontrovertible truth.
"Scientific uncertainty is not going to be eliminated on this topic before we have to act," Pielke said.