For its final hearing of this legislative session, the House Science and Technology Committee chose an appropriate topic. Dubbed "A Rational Discussion of Climate Change: the Science, the Evidence, the Response," Wednesday's hearing likely marked the last time a congressional committee convenes a "rational" dialogue on global warming for the next two years—or however long the GOP controls the House. It was the swan song for subcommittee chair Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), who is retiring this year. And it was also the last hurrah for Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), who lost his primary bid to a tea party candidate last spring. (See David Corn's eye-opening interview with him here.)
Unburdened by the prospect of another campaign, Inglis, in this final hearing, spared no scorn for climate change deniers in his own party and beyond, suggesting that they continue to ignore global warming at their own peril. "I would also suggest to my free enterprise colleagues—especially conservatives here—whether you think it’s all a bunch of hooey, what we've talked about in this committee, the Chinese don’t," the South Carolina Republican said in his opening remarks. "And they plan on eating our lunch in this next century." (ClimateWire covered the comments here.)
He continued lobbing criticism at climate skeptics:
There are people who make a lot of money on talk radio and talk TV saying a lot of things. They slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and they’re experts on climate change. They substitute their judgment for people who have Ph.D.s and work tirelessly.
Inglis is referring, of course, to the series of commercials for the hotel chain in which a white guy magically develops the ability to rap, another guy ends up on Jeopardy, and a clown gives advice to a bull rider—all because they got smarter due to a good night's rest at the Holiday Inn Express.
The difference on the subject between Inglis and Rep. Ralph Hall, the 87-year-old Texas Republican expected to take up the chairmanship of the committee next year, couldn't be more drastic. In his opening statement, Hall said that "reasonable people have serious questions about our knowledge of the state of the science." He also accused the scientific community of having a "dishonest undercurrent."
Accordingly, Inglis warned scientists of what to expect in the next two years:
I'd encourage scientists who are listening out there to get ready for the hearings that are coming up in the next Congress. Those will be difficult hearings for climate scientists. But, I would encourage you to welcome those as fabulous opportunities to teach. Don’t come here defensively.
Probably decent advice. Half of the incoming GOP House members flatly deny that the planet is warming. Only four remaining House Republicans have openly accepted the science of climate change, after more moderate members like Inglis were sent packing.