Do You Even Science? 4 Things the House Science Committee Could Do Besides Defend Exxon
by Kelly Mitchell
October 27, 2016
Rep. Lamar Smith, the Republican Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has been on a subpoena spree, demanding communications from state Attorneys General, environmental groups (like Greenpeace!), and even the Securities and Exchange Commission. Here’s what he could be doing instead.
In one group of subpoenas, Rep. Smith is demanding groups to hand over all internal communications related to their work to hold Exxon accountable for its decades-long campaign on climate deception — an attempt by the Congressman to protect Exxon.
So today, instead of internal communications, Greenpeace and 350.org delivered news articles, reports and fact sheets detailing the history of climate denial. Perhaps the knowledge will inspire the Chairman to guide the Science Committee to more productive activities.
We have a few ideas.
The science of climate change is only showing more alarming facts by the day. Arctic ice is receding. Global treasures like the Great Barrier Reef are on life-support. And communities are already suffering from the impacts of stronger storms, historic droughts, and vector spread diseases. These extreme weather events are so severe that the Pentagon has called climate change a “threat multiplier” and the Obama administration just ordered all national security agencies to consider climate change.
Yet, scientists are being harassed by a climate denial machine funded by the fossil fuel industry — the same one that has left millions of Americans confused and misled about the causes and severity of this crisis. It would be nice if the House committee dedicated to science played a positive role in elevating the most critical scientific issue of our time — like helping to identify the most crucial questions for climate science or educating the public. Don’t you think?
(Hint: UCS has even created this handy Science Blueprint that Lamar could use).
In case you didn’t know, space is awesome. Astronomers recently discovered that there may be trillions more galaxies than we thought. We’re getting closer to unpacking mysteries about the very nature of matter and the forces that govern it. Satellite technology is providing new data sets to measure our impact on the planet. We even discovered a planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun.
Plus Elon Musk might send someone to Mars.
Rep. Smith could be figuring out ways to fund space exploration, and share the resulting benefits with communities here on earth. But, you know, he’s too busy writing mean and ineffective letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of ExxonMobil.
Technology alone won’t solve the climate crisis — we need a radical shift in power — but it doesn’t hurt. The cost of solar panels, electric vehicles, and batteries have plummeted in recent years, making clean energy more accessible to homeowners and driving tremendous job growth.
In fact, the solar industry already employs more people than oil and gas extraction. Rep. Smith could be tapping the best innovators of our time and removing barriers to lower cost, higher efficiency renewable energy technology.
He’d rather be the lackey to an increasingly threatened and desperate fossil fuel industry.
4. Literally Anything Else
Surely he’s in need of a vacation?