Rep. Mike Noel, the Legislature’s chief climate-change skeptic, declared Thursday that global warming is a conspiracy to control world population.
The House Natural Resources Committee then approved a resolution that expresses the Utah Legislature’s belief that “climate alarmists’ carbon dioxide-related global warming hypothesis is unable to account for the current downturn in global temperatures.”
The resolution, sent to the House on a 10-1 vote, would urge the Environmental Protection Agency to drop plans to regulate the pollution blamed for climate change “until a full and independent investigation of the climate data conspiracy and global warming science can be substantiated.”
“We’re at the breaking point,” said Rep. Kerry Gibson, the resolution’s sponsor, who warned that the supply of safe and affordable food is already threatened by over-regulation.
Eleven Brigham Young University scientists defended climate science in a point-by-point rebuttal to parts of the resolution and urged the panel in an e-mail to reject the measure.
“Even if all the political solutions proposed so far are flawed,” they said, “this does not justify politicians attacking the science that indicates there is almost certainly a serious problem.”
The Utah Farm Bureau, a strong backer of the resolution, pressed many of the same scientists, along with LDS Church-owned BYU, to apologize for comments they had made critical of a previous legislative climate discussion and the remarks of one witness who disputes humankind’s role in global warming.
“I would call on Brigham Young University and Summer Rupper to apologize for what they have said,” said Farm Bureau CEO Randy Parker, who assisted Gibson, an Ogden farmer, in presenting the measure.
Both BYU and one of the scientists involved indicated Thursday there won’t be an apology for comments regarding University of Alabama researcher Roy Spencer’s work.
“We attacked some of his positions,” said geochemist Barry Bickmore, who signed both BYU letters. “We didn’t attack him.”
BYU spokesman Michael Smart noted that the scientists who have written to the Legislature have said all along they do not represent the school’s views.
“The faculty have always been clear they are speaking for themselves and not for the university,” he said. “The university doesn’t take a position on this issue, so we don’t have any comment on it.”
Parker, a member of the 2007 Governor’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change, and Gibson told the committee that climate science was motivated by the chase for research dollars, that climatology suffers a “credibility crisis” and that the work of skeptical scientists is being squelched.
They also described devastating impacts on the economy and farmers if the EPA succeeds with proposed regulation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and if Congress enacts a “cap-and-tax” law.
“It would be crippling to the economy,” said Gibson. “What it comes down to is: Agriculture is being regulated and taxed to death under this kind of mentality.”
Parker said proposed policies would hit U.S. farmers and families hard, putting a $2,000 or greater burden on each family, trigger energy shortages and slash farm income by half. He also said the EPA’s “cow tax” would cost Utah’s farmers and ranchers nearly $104 million, although the agency insists the regulation would not apply to small businesses like farms.
Rep. Phil Riesen, D-Holladay, questioned Gibson about the “conspiracy” wording in the resolution. “A conspiracy?” he asked. “By whom? To what end?”
“I’m not sure we’ll ever know the depths of it,” said Gibson, adding that it was hard to separate the hype because “we only hear one side of the argument.”
Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, who supported the anti-regulation part of the resolution, called the wording “pretty inflammatory” and counter to the Legislature’s standards of civility.
But Noel defended the “conspiracy” wording, pointing to an out-of-print textbook, Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment , written in the 1970s by biologist Paul Ehr – -lich, Ehrlich’s wife, Anne, and physicist John Holdren about the potential hazards of unchecked population.
The Kanab Republican, referring to Holdren as the Obama administration’s “energy czar,” read from passages of the 1,000-plus-page tome about population-control alternatives that included abortion and forced sterilization. He did not share the authors’ conclusion: that voluntary population-limiting methods are “a far better choice.”
“Now, if you can’t see a connection [of a conspiracy] to that,” the legislator said, “you’re absolutely blind to what is going on. This is absolutely — in my mind, this is in fact a conspiracy to limit population not only in this country but across the globe.”