Environment,  Health Care,  Science

Scientifically-ignorant legislators on parade

To conclusively disprove the existence of climate change, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma picked up some snow outside the US Capitol building and threw it on the Senator floor. Seriously.

Inhofe is the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Seriously. He is one of the growing number of Republicans who deny being scientists.

“I’m not a scientist, and don’t claim to be,” Inhofe said on Thursday. He then cited, among other things, a Newsweek article from 1975 (whose author recently lamented the way climate change deniers use his work), archaeological evidence, and Scriptures, in addition to the snowball, as evidence that refutes the claim that “somehow man is so important that he can change [the climate].”

This was Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s more scientifically-informed response:

“You can believe NASA and you can believe what their satellites measure on the planet, or you can believe the Senator with the snowball. The United States Navy takes this very seriously, to the point where Admiral Locklear, who is the head of the Pacific Command, has said that climate change is the biggest threat that we face in the Pacific…you can either believe the United States Navy or you can believe the Senator with the snowball…every major American scientific society has put itself on record, many of them a decade ago, that climate change is deadly real. They measure it, they see it, they know why it happens. The predictions correlate with what we see as they increasingly come true. And the fundamental principles, that it is derived from carbon pollution, which comes from burning fossil fuels, are beyond legitimate dispute…so you can believe every single major American scientific society, or you can believe the Senator with the snowball.”

And, I might add, you can believe the residents of Kivalina, Alaska, or you can believe the Senator with the snowball.

But I don’t want to single out Inhofe for being a scientific ignoramus. Across the pond, David Tredinnick, the Conservative MP for Bosworth, believes astrology can help reduce overcrowding in the National Health Service.

In an interview with [February’s] Astrological Journal, the controversial MP said: “There would be a huge row over resources.

“However, I do believe that astrology and complementary medicine would help take the huge pressure off doctors.

“Ninety per cent of pregnant French women use homeopathy.

“Astrology is a useful diagnostic tool enabling us to see strengths and weaknesses via the birth chart.

“And, yes, I have helped fellow MPs. I do foresee that one day astrology will have a role to play in healthcare.”

He added that opponents to astrology were “bullies”, saying: “Astrology offers self-understanding to people.

“People who oppose what I say are usually bullies who have never studied astrology.

“They never look at it. They are absolutely dismissive. Astrology may not be capable of passing double-blind tests but it is based on thousands of years of observation.”

I could make a crack about a certain member of Parliament requiring observation, but…

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