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Sen. Cruz Proves There is Still a Vigorous Debate About Climate Change in Exchange with Sierra Club President

Sierra Club president Aaron Mair unable to square his assertion of theoretical threats with observed scientific data and evidence

October 7, 2015

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke with Sierra Club president Aaron Mair during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing yesterday in an exchange that proved, contrary to liberal assertions that man-caused climate change is “settled science,” that there is still a healthy and vigorous debate about the causes and nature of climate change based on the data and scientific evidence.

The exchange occurred during a hearing Cruz chaired of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts titled “Opportunity Denied: How Overregulation Harms Minorities.” The hearing investigated the harmful effects of government overregulation on people and businesses who lack the resources and political connections to deal effectively with mountains of red tape.

While Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and climate-related regulations were not designed to occupy a greater focus than other types of government regulation during this hearing, Mr. Mair of the Sierra Club made it a central focus of his testimony. However, in an exchange that has been widely covered by the media as highlighted below, Mr. Mair was unable to square the Sierra Club’s assertion that climate change is threatening the Earth with the observed satellite temperature data that have shown no significant warming trend over the last 18 years.

This exchange can be viewed here.

See below for a roundup of coverage on this important issue:

Dallas Morning News: Ted Cruz Hammers Overregulation, Tangles With Sierra Club Chief Over Climate Change
“Overregulation is stifling opportunity for people who want to achieve the American dream,” [Cruz] said. But Aaron Mair, president of the Sierra Club, asserted that foes of EPA live in “an alternative universe” in which corporate polluters use “propaganda” to persuade vulnerable low-income Americans to oppose anti-pollution efforts. He and Cruz tangled repeatedly, including a tense and prolonged exchange over climate change. Mair seemed ill-prepared for the cool interrogation Cruz walked him into. The senator often points to satellite evidence showing no planetary warming in the last 18 years, using that to raise doubts about the overwhelming scientific consensus that the climate is undergoing dangerous changes. But Mair seemed unfamiliar with that line of argument, and time and again leaned back from his chair to consult with an aide. “The science is settled,” Mair said, citing a survey finding consensus among climate scientists, with only 3 percent of them dissenting. “It’s been refuted long ago and it’s not up for scientific debate.” Cruz called the study “bogus” and demanded to know whether the Sierra Club would abandon its views on climate change if confronted with solid evidence. Mair kept sidestepping the question. “You can cherry pick whatever data you wish,” he said. Afterward, Cruz called it “astonishing” to hear the head of the Sierra Club defend EPA regulations based on pseudo-science.

Houston Chronicle: Ted Cruz 1, Sierra Club 0
In his written testimony, Mair had asserted: “That people of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate disruption should not be up for debate any more so than the science behind climate change itself.” This is not an unreasonable statement, but Cruz then takes issue with the idea that climate change is not up for debate. He asks Mair about the satellite temperature record, which he says has shown no warming during the last 18 years. … This exchange displays a shocking lack of knowledge about climate change from an organization that counts addressing climate change disruption among its most important goals. The satellite data has been well established for some time. Yes, if one looks at data from 1998 to present using one of the satellite data sets, a case can be made that there has been “no warming.” … With respect to the pause — or hiatus — this is the subject of some debate in the scientific community. The general view seems to be that warming slowed in the 2000s, but now appears to be increasing upward again. … I would argue that if you’re going before a Senate subcommittee led by Ted Cruz, you’d better be ready to handle these kinds of queries.

The Blaze: Ted Cruz Repeatedly Grills Sierra Club President With One Simple Question – Watch the Answer He Gets
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) repeatedly grilled Sierra Club President Aaron Mair Tuesday, asking whether his organization would issue a formal retraction if evidence contrary to his global warming testimony were provided to the environmental group. Mair had testified during a Senate hearing that “our planet is cooking and heating up and warming.” Cruz, who said that recent satellite data did not show a warming trend, asked Mair whether he would retract his statement if the data were given to him. … Cruz then offered his thoughts on Muir’s testimony. “You know, Mr. Mair, I find it striking that for a policy organization that purports to focus exclusively on environmental issues, that you are not willing to tell this committee that you would issue a retraction if your testimony is objectively false under scientific data,” Cruz said. “That undermines the credibility of any organization.”

Houston Examiner: Ted Cruz Turns Up the Heat on Sierra Club Head Concerning Global Warming
One of the witnesses at the hearing was Aaron Mair, the president of the Sierra Club and a great believer in government regulations where the environment is concerned. Cruz turned to the subject of global warming, which some call climate change … Nevertheless, Cruz continued to bore in on the question and Mair continued to give his rote answer about the “97 percent.” Cruz’s point about satellite data is based on science. Mair’s answer is based on faulty, some would say distorted, statistical analysis. Indeed, it might be said that Mair was proven to be the “science denier” and Cruz the champion of science, properly understood.

The Daily Caller: Showdown: Ted Cruz Presses Sierra Club on Global Warming Pause [VIDEO]
Ted Cruz questioned Sierra Club President Aaron Mair in a contentious testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. But on one question in particular, Mair would not deviate from his rehearsed answer. When asked about the 18 year pause in global warming, as documented by satellite data, Mr. Mair denied it exists. “So if the data are contrary to your testimony, would the Sierra Club issue a retraction?” Cruz asked. “Sir, we concur with the 97 percent scientific consensus with regards to global warming,” Mair responded. When Senator Cruz pressed the environmentalist on whether he would change his testimony should the Sierra Club obtain the publicly available data showing the “pause,” Mair would only respond, “We concur with 97 percent of the scientists that believe the anthropogenic impact of mankind with regards to global warming are true.” Cruz then asked again if Mair was unwilling to answer the question. The Sierra Club chief replied, “We concur with the preponderance of the evidence — you’re asking me if we’ll take 3 percent over the 97 percent? Of course not.” After a repeated back-and-forth, an exasperated Cruz concluded, “You know, Mr. Mair, I find it striking that for a policy organization that purports to focus exclusively on environmental issues, that you are not willing to tell this committee that you would issue a retraction if your testimony is objectively false under scientific data. That undermines the credibility of any organization.”

RedState: Ted Cruz Finds A Question That The Sierra Club DARED Not Answer
The moral of this particular story is: don’t send somebody up against a Senate Judiciary subcommittee unless he’s prepared to answer the simplest of questions. Short version: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked the simplest of questions, and Sierra Club President Aaron Mair couldn’t answer it. In fairness, it’s a very awkward question – What about the satellite data? – and, as I understand it, Mr. Mair’s testimony boiled down to 97% of scientists say that it’s not an issue. Which would have been a better answer if Sen. Cruz hadn’t been more familiar with the origin of that particular (false) talking point, or indeed everything else involving the entire topic of global warming / climate change / [insert buzzphrase here].  Seriously, it looks bad when the head of your organization has to keep getting fed lines by his staff.

Louder With Crowder: Ted Cruz Delivers Best Performance Yet at Climate Change Hearing
When given the proper time, in an open forum, Cruz’[s] debate performances are nothing short of masterful. Here in this exchange he systematically cuts off the ring for his opponent. When the opponent (Aaron Mair) tries to claim that he “agrees with 97% of scientists,” Cruz brings it back to the original question; that of [the] data. When Aaron is unable to answer and leans over to his consultant, Ted Cruz calls him on it … Cruz knows how to frame the argument in a way that focuses on hard information at hand, and routinely brings the argument off the rails back on-topic when necessary.

Complete footage of the hearing can be viewed here.

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