The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is filled with science deniers from climate change to evolution to those who believe in the earth being a few thousand years old. Thus, it is no surprise then that the new head of the Subcommittee on Environment is also a denier that humans are influencing the climate. That is a problem because that subcommittee oversees scientific research and the EPA. In particular, it is closely involved with climate change research and development. When the head of the legislative body overlooking that research questions its validity that is not good for future research.
Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, the new chair of the Subcommittee on the Environment, is the former President and CEO of a business involved in energy and environmental issues. That would suggest he would be a good choice to lead the subcommittee. Instead of an interest on how science relates to the environment, Stewart has identified another concern. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Stewart states his business experience puts him into a unique position on how government regulations hurt business.
Apparently, all the science stuff that created some of those regulations is not something to worry about, according to Stewart. Despite 97% of climatologists agreeing that humans are causing global warming, Stewart knows better.
“I’m not as convinced as a lot of people are that man-made climate change is the threat they think it is. I think it is probably not as immediate as some people do,” Stewart said.
Of course, the lack of convincing evidence for Stewart is probably the result of his inability to read the complicated data involved in climate change studies. That’s not unusual, as most of us can’t analyze that data either. Instead, we are left with easier to understand information like the last decade or so being the warmest on record. That is easy for even Stewart to understand and accept. Unfortunately, Stewart doesn’t want to believe the overwhelming majority of experts who have come to the conclusion from studying more complicated data that humans play a large role in that warming. Just a hunch here, but I doubt when Stewart takes his car to a mechanic that he displays the same level of skepticism when its problem is diagnosed.
“The world’s climate is changing. That has always been true. Our global climate is always in flux, and always will be. So while I accept that our climate is changing, I also understand that a great deal of research still needs to be accomplished to understand why, as well as to discover the impacts man might be having on that change,” Stewart issued in a statement to Mother Jones.
Scientific research is great, but at some point the totality of the data must be accepted. Unfortunately, Stewart doesn’t want to believe any conclusions that he disagrees. While Stewart may look favorably at new research on climate change, it is going to be through blinders as he also told the Salt Lake Tribune.
“What is the real threat? What are the economic impacts of those threats? And what are the economic impacts of those remedies?” he asked, explaining his approach. “Some of the remedies are more expensive to our economy than the threat may turn out to be.”
Stewart probably has a point there. Those regulations need to be looked at on the impact they will have on jobs, businesses and economic development. However, it is important that immediate economic impacts do not become the main factor on how to deal with climate change. Ignoring the major changes coming to the world’s climate is short-sighted. These long-term, lasting impacts will dwarf the short-term benefits of a company’s bottom line.
Unfortunately, we are not likely to see that balanced perspective with Stewart as chair. Stewart has already set his sights on the EPA, which he calls “biased” because it doesn’t allow enough “private sector expertise” expertise. Stewart’s second largest contributors were the oil and gas industry so. That gives an indication of what “private sector expertise” Stewart wants more involved.
As the world warms, it doesn’t look like Congress is in any hurry to find a solution. Stewart is part of that stonewalling.