On Thursday, The House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology tweeted a misleading article published by Breitbart about the state of the global climate.
“Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists,” the tweet read.
— Sci,Space,&Tech Cmte (@HouseScience) December 1, 2016
The article starts by asserting that “Global land temperatures have plummeted by one degree Celsius since the middle of this year – the biggest and steepest fall on record,” citing an article from The Daily Mail that fails to place the statistic in context (more on that below). Breitbart then states, without any evidence, that “the news has been greeted with an eerie silence by the world’s alarmist community,” a term used by climate science doubters to describe climate scientists and the reporters who cover their work.
Senator Bernie Sanders responded to the tweet, asking, “Where’d you get your PhD? Trump University?”
The Breitbart article was written by James Delingpole, a writer whose recent headlines include, “Trump at NASA: Hasta la Vista Climate Fraud and Muslim Outreach…” and “Trump’s War on the Green Blob Will Make (Almost) All of Us Richer, Happier, and Freer.”
Here are some facts:
- 2016 is already the warmest year on record, and October 2016 was among the three warmest Octobers on record. The Arctic has lost enough ice this year to cover an area from Washington state to New Mexico. It’s nearly winter in the Northern Hemisphere, which has more land. Northern Hemisphere winter is always the coolest point in the seasonal climate cycle. The La Niña weather pattern has begun, and 2017 has long been expected to be somewhat cooler than 2016 as a result. To imply that this refutes the science that shows the climate is changing is to promote a basic misunderstanding of how climate change works.
It’s unclear who is responsible for the committee’s tweet. The committee chair, Republican Lamar Smith, is a climate science doubter.
“We’ve been getting a lot of calls about this today,” said Beth Larson, a policy assistant at the House Science Committee when reached for comment. “We’re feeling pretty overwhelmed.”
The committee has significant influence over NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other federal research programs.
Larson said the tweet would have originated with the communications staff, which is led by Kristina Baum. Business Insider left a message with Baum, whom we were told was in a meeting.