Sen. Ted Cruz embarrassed Sierra Club President Aaron Mair during Senate hearings Tuesday, as Mair was repeatedly unable to answer straightforward questions about global warming. Under cool, calm, respectful questioning from Cruz, Mair was repeatedly flustered and created long, embarrassing periods of silence while he sought help from aides to answer Cruz’s questions.
In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, which Cruz chairs, Mair claimed humans are creating a global warming crisis, the crisis demands immediate action, and the topic should not be open to debate. During questioning at the end of Mair’s testimony, Cruz exposed Mair’s lack of knowledge regarding basic climate facts:
Cruz: “How do you address the fact that in the last 18 years the satellite data show no demonstrable warming whatsoever?”
Mair: “Sir, I would rely upon the Union of Concerned Scientists, and I would rely upon the evidence, again, of our own NOAA officials, the data are there.”
Cruz: “Is it correct that the satellite data over the last 18 years demonstrate no significant warming?”
Cruz: “How is it incorrect?”
Mair then leaned back so that a Sierra Club staffer could whisper in his ear. After eight seconds of silence, during which Mair made confused hand gestures and facial expressions, Mair vaguely answered:
Mair: “Based upon our experts, it’s been refuted long ago, and there is no longer, it’s not up for scientific debate.”
Cruz: “I do find it highly interesting that the President of the Sierra Club when asked what the satellite data demonstrate about warming, apparently is relying on staff. The nice thing about the satellite data is these are objective numbers. Are you familiar with the phrase, “the Pause”?
Mair then leaned back again for help, creating another embarrassing silence, while the same staffer whispered in his ear and Cruz patiently waited for an answer. After 14 seconds, Mair leaned forward and said:
Mair: “The answer is yes and, uh, essentially, uh, we rest on our position.”
Cruz: “You said you are familiar with the Pause, so to what does the phrase “the Pause” refer?
Mair leaned back again to allow the staffer to whisper in his ear. Mair eventually sat up straight again but didn’t say a word. After another 14 seconds of cumulative science, Cruz asked again:
Cruz: “I’m sorry, you said you were familiar with that term. So I asked to what does it refer?”
Mair leaned back again for help. A few seconds later, Mair straightened up again and responded, “Essentially it is a slow in global warming during the ‘40s, sir.”
Cruz: “During the ’40s? Is it not the term that global warming alarmists have used to explain the ‘inconvenient truth,’ to use a phrase popularized by former Vice President Al Gore, that the satellite data over the last 18 years demonstrate no significant warming whatsoever? Global warming alarmists call that “the Pause” because the computer models say there should be dramatic warming, and yet the actual satellites taking the measurement don’t show any significant warming.”
Mair: “But Senator, 97 percent of the scientists concur and agree that there is global warming, and anthropogenic impact with regards to global warming.”
Cruz: “The problem with that statistic that gets cited a lot is that it’s based on one bogus study. And indeed your response . . . I would point out your response is quite striking. I asked about the science and the evidence, the actual data. We have satellites, they’re measuring temperature. That should be relevant. And your answer was, ‘Pay no attention to your lying eyes, and the numbers, that the satellites show. Instead, listen to the scientists who are receiving massive grants, who tell us, do not debate the science.’”
The term, “the Pause,” contrary to Mair’s assertion, is not a phrase commonly applied to the 1940s. While it is true that global temperatures declined from the 1940s through the 1970s – even as carbon dioxide emissions rose significantly – the term, “the Pause” commonly refers to an ongoing prolonged lack of global temperature rise that goes back at least to 2002 and quite possibly to the mid-1990s, depending on how one views the data. A chart of NASA satellite-measured global temperatures going back to 1979 compiled by Remote Sensing Systems is available here. Another chart of NASA satellite-measured global temperatures compiled by climate scientists at the University of Alabama in Huntsville appears below and shows similar results. Mair’s apparent unfamiliarity with the term is quite shocking for the president of an organization that frequently attempts to assert itself into the global warming debate.
Even more importantly, Cruz’s line of questioning and Mair’s answers illustrate a primary line of division in the global warming debate. Global warming activists like Mair tell us the most trustworthy sources of authority regarding climate science are computer model forecasts and “surveys” of scientists misrepresented by activist groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists. Skeptics like Cruz counter that the most trustworthy sources of authority are real-world data, facts, and evidence.
The computer models did not predict a global warming pause and cannot account for it. The Pause continues and global warming activists present new excuses and new denials every day. Nevertheless, the facts are the facts, and the facts show there has been no global warming for anywhere between 13 and 18 years. This year’s middle school graduates – and quite possibly this year’s high school graduates – have experienced no global warming in their lifetimes.