There have been quite a few Republicans over the past few months who don’t seem to know much about science. Todd Akin claimed the female body can prevent pregnancy during a legitimate rape. Joe Walsh said that medical science has advanced so much that a mother’s life is never in jeopardy during pregnancy. Richard Mourdock claimed that a rape which resulted in pregnancy was God’s will.
Now, we’re about to convene a new Congress. The new chair of the Science, Space and Technology committee is Representative Lamar Smith. The Texas Republican is a 27 year veteran of the Hill. As the new chair of the Science, Space and Technology committee, Representative Smith will have jurisdiction over NASA, the EPA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NOAA, Department of Energy and the FAA.
Why is this a problem? Well, Representative Smith isn’t exactly a friend to the environment… or science. He disagreed with the Kyoto Protocol. He doubts global warming and, in fact, chastised the media in 2009 for not discussing enough dissenting opinions on global warming. It’s science! Either it’s getting warmer or it’s not; there’s no middle ground here. And, it is getting warmer. Representative Smith has voted no on regulation of greenhouse gasses and tax credits for renewable energy. He’s voted to kill funding for NPR and has actually voted to pardon technology companies for surveillance without a warrant.
As chairman of the House science panel, Smith will be replacing Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), who is also a skeptic. In 2011, Hall accused climate scientists of conspiring to concoct evidence of a warming planet. “I’m really more fearful of freezing,” Hall said. “And I don’t have any science to prove that. But we have a lot of science that tells us they’re not basing it [global warming] on real scientific facts.” Huff Post
As the Huffington Post article points out, there is quite a consensus among scientists that not only is Earth getting warmer, humans are a contributing factor of such change. It worries me that people like Representative Smith are in control but it also worries me that very few seem to care that people with such strongly held antiquated and uninformed beliefs have so much power.