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Why We Should Never Get Over the House Science Committee's Breitbart Tweet

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By Gretchen Goldman

Last week the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology tweeted some good ole fashioned climate denial—you know, the old tired long discredited nonsensical claim that cold weather negates the global consensus of scientists that climate change is happening (It doesn't.). The scientific community and the news media did not let this go unnoticed and that's a good thing for our continuing to hold decision makers accountable for respecting science under a Trump administration.

Here was the tweet:

It was quickly followed by a multitude of responses from other decision makers, scientists and others. Think Progress has a nice summary of responses. I especially liked this one from House Science Committee member Representative Don Beyer:

Another Day, Another Lamar Smith Attack on Science

I saw the House Science tweet and didn't think much of it. Perhaps I'm cynical. Perhaps I've been following science in Washington, DC for too long. But it didn't seem notable to me. This is because the House Science Committee and particularly its Chairman Lamar Smith, now have a broad and consistent record of denying climate science, bullying scientists across disciplines and otherwise disparaging the scientific enterprise it's supposed to be supporting.

Not that I'm keeping a running list (I am actually), but here are some highlights:

  • The committee attacked scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for producing policy relevant climate science, demanding to see their email communications.
  • Currently, the committee is targeting this scientist, well, the Union of Concerned Scientists, for having spoken with state attorneys general about the role of ExxonMobil selling a product they knew to be harmful due to the risks of climate change.
  • Chairman Smith previously attempted to interfere in the National Science Foundation's grant process, ridiculing scientists' work that he found silly.

And last Thursday's climate-denying tweet was not even its first science-attacking tweet of the week. The day prior, the committee's handle had trolled Yale Climate Connections.

We Cannot Normalize Science Denial

Despite this pervasive record of science-slamming, the House Science Committee was still taken to task for the recent climate-denying tweet and this is a good thing. We cannot normalize science denial. It is entirely inappropriate for members of Congress to be peddling misinformation on climate science—especially when they are in charge of the House Science Committee. The world noticed this and called them on it.

We need to do more of this. When science is denied by our decision makers, this cannot stand. We must persist in calling out such misinformation when we see it, whether it will come from the House Science Committee, the Trump administration or other decision makers in the future. Americans deserve leaders who respect science and scientists. I promise to be a little less cynical moving forward and I hope you will too.

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