And subcommittee ranking member Gary Peters of Michigan said that “knowing that there’s more to learn shouldn’t stop us from acting on what we know now.”
The three scientists called by Cruz are well-known climate skeptics, not unfamiliar to Capitol Hill hearings. Presenting data and questioning government reports, the panel also discussed what they said has been a freeze-out of any skepticism. Judith Curry, a Georgia Institute of Technology professor, said there’s been a “chilling effect” on her own research and that she no longer applies for government grants because she thinks they won’t get funded.
The vast majority of scientists agree that climate change is real and is caused by manmade causes, although the Republican party has made skepticism a staple of its recent work.
Cruz denies that global warming is happening or that man has played a role and has made his “full-out denial” a key point in his presidential campaign, accusing Democrats of lying about climate science to promote a regulatory agenda. According to an Associated Press review of the 2016 candidates, Cruz had the lowest understanding of climate change science.
It’s not the first time Cruz has used his Senate post to pound the climate agenda. He hosted an October hearing in the Judiciary subcommittee on oversight on the threat of overregulation to minority communities, which included discussion of climate change policy.
Democrats were primed to attack Cruz -- several members of the subcommittee held a press conference hours before the hearing even began to condemn the chairman’s approach and call for action on climate change.
During the hearing, however, Democrats appeared to have little interest in the witnesses Cruz had called, instead using their time to talk about the importance of getting a climate change agreement at the ongoing United Nations talks in Paris. “The only thing that needs a serious investigation is why we are holding this hearing in the first place,” said Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.
Most questions were sent to the sole Democratic witness, rear admiral David Titley, a Pennsylvania State University professor who has worked on the national security implications of climate change.
However, author Mark Steyn and Curry challenged Markey after his question time had expired for not giving them time to respond, launching a spirited back-and-forth about what data sets and studies were reliable for studying climate change.
Despite the hearing coming as Cruz is rising in the GOP polls, he kept explicit presidential campaigning out of the chamber and instead focused on promoting climate skepticism. He even said that he took Democrats’ criticism as a “backhanded compliment.”
“What does it say when members of the United States Senate are protesting, how dare the science subcommittee in the US Senate hear testimony from scientists about actual science. How dare we focus on such topics?” he said. “I think that is indeed exactly what we were elected to do.”