Harris to Pompeo: Repent, climate heretic

posted at 4:01 pm on January 12, 2017 by Ed Morrissey

Confirmation hearings often reveal more about the panelists than they do about the nominee, and that’s certainly the case in the exchange that took place between Mike Pompeo and newly installed Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). Donald Trump nominated Pompeo for director of the CIA, a role for which his years as chair of the House Intelligence Committee have prepared him, including an understanding of the role intelligence services play. Harris seems to have a strange set of priorities for intelligence operations, and her obsession with climate change leaves Pompeo almost laughing in bemusement. (Allahpundit will have more on the rest of Pompeo’s hearing in the next post.)

Bear in mind that this followed Harris questioning Pompeo on LGBT policy, and you get a sense of the silliness on display:

HARRIS: CIA Director Brennan, who spent a 25-year career at the CIA as an analyst, senior manager, and station chief in the field, has said that when, quote, “CIA analysts look for deeper causes of rising instability in the world,” one of the causes those CIA analysts see as the — is the impact of climate change. Do you have any reason to doubt the assessment of these CIA analysts?

POMPEO: Senator Harris, I haven’t had a chance to read those materials with respect to climate change. I do know the agency’s role there. Its role is to collect foreign intelligence, to understand threats to the world. That would certainly include threats from poor governance, regional instability, threats from all sources, and deliver that information to policymakers. And to the extent that changes in climatic activity are part of that, we’ll deliver that information to you all and the president.

That was Pompeo’s attempt to acknowledge her concern at climate change while politely reminding her that it’s not the CIA’s primary focus, or even secondary focus. (If it has been in the past, perhaps that’s why we missed the real nature of the “Arab Spring,” the rise of ISIS, and Russia’s determination to team up with Iran to keep Bashar al-Assad in power.) Harris didn’t take the hint, however, which forced Pompeo to become a little more blunt:

HARRIS: In the past you have questioned the scientific consensus on climate change. Nevertheless, according to NASA, multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals showed 97% or more of actively published climate scientists agree that climate warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. Do you have any reason to doubt NASA’s findings?

First off, the 97% claim is a hoax, one that got exposed almost four years ago. In 2015, a team of researchers published a more extensive debunking of the 97% myth in the peer-reviewed journal Science & Education, and found that the consensus on anthropogenic global warming was closer to 0.3%. The abstract states:

Agnotology is the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Legates et al. (Sci Educ 22:2007–2017, 2013) had questioned the applicability of agnotology to politically-charged debates. In their reply, Bedford and Cook (Sci Educ 22:2019–2030, 2013), seeking to apply agnotology to climate science, asserted that fossil-fuel interests had promoted doubt about a climate consensus. Their definition of climate ‘misinformation’ was contingent upon the post-modernist assumptions that scientific truth is discernible by measuring a consensus among experts, and that a near unanimous consensus exists. However, inspection of a claim by Cook et al. (Environ Res Lett 8:024024, 2013) of 97.1 % consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other. Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain. Therefore, Legates et al. appropriately asserted that partisan presentations of controversies stifle debate and have no place in education.

That’s certainly reason enough to doubt NASA’s findings, but the whole line of questioning is one large non-sequitur for the confirmation of an intelligence director. Pompeo’s response clearly shows his struggle to remain patient:

POMPEO: Senator, I’ve actually spoken to this in my political life some. My commentary, most all has been directed to ensuring the policies that America put in place actually achieve the objective of ensuring we didn’t have catastrophic harm that resulted from changing climate. I continue to hold that view. I, frankly, as the director of CIA, would prefer today not to get into the details of climate debate and science. It seems — my role is going to be so different and unique from that. It is going to be to work alongside warriors keeping Americans safe. And so I stand by the things I’ve said previously with respect to that issue.

Harris didn’t take the hint that the CIA has more important duties than get tied up on energy policy:

HARRIS: So, I’m not clear. Do you believe NASA’s findings are debatable?

POMPEO: I haven’t spent enough time to tell you that I’ve looked at NASA’s findings in particular. I can’t give you any judgment about that today.

And even after all of that, Harris insisted that the primary consideration for confirming a CIA director is climate change:

Well, the rest of us would prefer Senators sitting on the Intelligence committee to actually understand the purpose for having intelligence agencies, and prioritize the safety and security of Americans from external threats of a more acute nature. Perhaps Harris could request a transfer to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In the meantime, perhaps Harris and other Democrats should take a hint from the results of the last four Congressional elections and spare us the climate-change inquisition. Right now, it’s tough to disagree with Sheriff David Clarke:

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