Even before it began, Sen. Ted Cruz’s subcommittee hearing Tuesday challenging the accuracy and objectivity of the science behind climate doomsday scenarios drew a heated rebuke from Senate Democrats.
“We need to stop debating whether climate change is real. The science is settled, and Senator Cruz is out of touch,” said Sen. Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrat. “The American people want action. Most of Congress wants action. We need to work together and lead the world in reducing carbon pollution and fighting global warming.”
He was joined by Democratic Sens. Gary Peters of Michigan, Bill Nelson of Florida, Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Ed Markey of Massachusetts at a press conference shortly before Tuesday’s hearing, titled “Data or Dogma?”
Mr. Cruz — the Texas Republican who heads the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness — said at the hearing that “public policy should follow the actual science and the actual data and evidence, and not political and partisan claims that run contrary to the science and data and evidence.”
He cited predictions of climate catastrophe that have failed to come true, starting with Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2009 op-ed stating that, “Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013.”
A candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Mr. Cruz said the Senate Democrats’ “prebuttal” to the hearing came as a “backhanded compliment,” adding that the Democrats “doth protest too much.”
“What does it say when members of the United States Senate are protesting? How dare the science subcommittee in the United States Senate hear testimony from scientists about actual science? How dare we focus on such topics?” Mr. Cruz said. “I think that is indeed exactly what we were elected to do.”
The hearing, which comes as 150 nations meet at the Paris Climate Conference, featured testimony from climate scientists branded by the global-warming movement as “deniers”: University of Alabama in Huntsville professor John Christy, Georgia Tech professor Judith Curry and Princeton professor William Happer.
Ms. Curry said the clout of the climate-change movement has had a “chilling effect” on research.
“The social contract currently between the Obama administration and climate scientists is: If you say alarming things, you’ll get plenty of funding. That seems to be how it’s working, and that is very, very pernicious for science,” she said.
Testifying on the Democratic side was Penn State professor David Titley, a retired rear admiral who said “our country is dealing with a significant change in the world’s climate.”
“[I]t is a very serious challenge, and if we do not manage this risk, climate change, unchecked, will make many of our existing threats worse. But our country has met challenges of this magnitude before and succeeded — and we will do so again,” Mr. Titley said in his testimony.
Conservative columnist Mark Steyn described the libel suit filed against him by climate scientist Michael Mann, and accused “Big Climate” of bullying academics and researchers who deviate from the global-warming narrative.
“If you’re a real Nobel Laureate like Ivar Giaever, who won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics, or if you’re older, tenured and sufficiently eminent, you can just about withstand the Big Climate enforcers jumping you in the parking lot and taking the hockey stick to you,” Mr. Steyn said. “But, if you’re a younger scientist, you know that, if you cross Mann and the other climate mullahs, there goes tenure, there goes funding, there goes your career.”
Mr. Peters, the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, said: “I certainly agree that we need to support our scientific community and protect them from political influence.”
“But I also know that while we continue to refine the science, we have to act on the risk and findings that our scientists have discovered,” he said.