Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) Rejects Human Responsibility for Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 25 Mar 2014 21:39:00 GMT

A few months after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) rejected the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. He made remarks rejecting the linkage between human activity and changes in weather at a Heritage Foundation “Conversations with Conversatives” event on January 22, 2013. Questioned by Heritage’s Rob Bluey, Massie said he took “offense” at President Obama’s remarks on climate change in the 2013 State of the Union address.

I was disappointed to see him blame the droughts on human activity and then to say that we’re denying the evidence of scientists. As someone with a science-type background, I took offense at that. I would challenge him to show us the linkage, the undeniable linkage, between the droughts and the change in weather, and human activity.

“Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend,” Obama said in his address. “But the fact is the twelve hottest years on record have all come in the last fifteen. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods — all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.”

Obama’s words were scientifically well-founded. In August 2010, the World Meteorological Organization issued a statement on the “unprecedented sequence of extreme weather events” that “matches Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.” Climate scientists have concluded that “[m]any lines of evidence — statistical analysis of observed data, climate modelling and physical reasoning — strongly indicate that some types of extreme event, most notably heatwaves and precipitation extremes, will greatly increase in a warming climate and have already done so.”

Massie’s “science-type background” refers to his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change has a helpful FAQ on climate science which provides answers to Rep. Massie’s questions, such as, “Are extreme events, like heat waves, droughts or floods, expected to change as the Earth’s climate changes?” The answer: “Yes.”

According to the Program of Atmosphere, Oceans, and Climate in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT, which studies the “substantial human interference of the climate system”:
  • “Over the past 200 years or so, humans have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere and oceans.”
  • “There’s clear evidence that greenhouse gases have been increasing by very large amounts since preindustrial times, and the vast majority of these increases are due to human activity.”
  • “Current concerns about future climate change are driven in large part by the observational evidence that several long-lived greenhouse gases are increasing at significant rates.”
  • “Climate models suggest that both global mean precipitation and the intensity of precipitation extremes will increase in a warmer climate.”
  • “The total amount and distribution of water in the atmosphere is very sensitive to temperature such that global warming is expected to lead to substantial changes in all aspects of the water cycle.”
  • “Anthropogenic factors are likely responsible for long-term trends in tropical Atlantic warmth and tropical cyclone activity.”

Massie is a freshman member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He has received $87451 in campaign contributions from the energy industry, including $34,451 from the oil and gas industry, of which $12,000 is from Koch Industries.