Senator Kerry: Has your study been peer reviewed?
Kenneth Green: No, I don’t work in the peer review literature, Senator. I don’t work for a university.
Steven Hayward, the F.K. Weyerhaeuser fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, recently said, “The brain waves of the American right continue to be erratic, when they are not flat-lining.” He may have had in mind his AEI colleague Kenneth Green, whose lack of knowledge on climate was laid bare for all to see by Sen. John Kerry in today’s Finance Committee hearing.
I don’t know what is more revealing and embarrassing for Green and AEI — that Green couldn’t actually name a single peer-reviewed study in his defense or that when Kerry calls him on it, his only defense is an appeal to authority — his own “opinion” (!):
Green: All I can say, Senator, is that I read the IPCC reports, the science of climate change report in its totality cover to cover, I follow the latest journals, my doctoral degree is in environmental science and engineering. I daresay I’m capable of understanding the literature and forming my own opinion. I –
Kerry (interrupting): Has your study been peer reviewed?
Green: Pardon me?
Kerry: Has your study been peer reviewed?
Green: No, I don’t work in the peer review literature, Senator. I don’t work for a university.
That is uber-weird. Green seems to be suggesting (falsely) that you have to work for a university to write peer reviewed research. Play the video. It sure sounds that way — otherwise the second sentence is a pure non sequitur.
Kerry: So, you don’t submit your studies for any peer review?
Green: Ah, no.
Kerry: You realize that there are something like two or three thousand studies all of which concur which have been peer reviewed, and not one of the studies dissenting has been peer reviewed?
Green: That’s not correct, Senator.
Kerry: Show me a peer reviewed study.
Green: I’ll send you a list.
Kerry: Please, because nobody else has.
Green: I’ll be glad to.
With the help of AEI’s staff, Green will probably be able to find a handful of now-debunked peer-reviewed studies that “support” his position, but it remains telling that he couldn’t name a single one when asked in a public forum. Kerry called his bluff, and Green folded.
Here’s the early part of the exchange:
Green: Canada, for instance, can agree to a target and if they don’t do anything they can’t be sued into government compliance. The U.S. is unique in the status it gives treaties, when we sign a treaty, we live up to it. Other countries can sign treaties and not live up to them. That is a fundamental difference that makes the U.S. hesitant to embrace treaties as a general role, and I think wisely because treaties have a very high status in American law that is not necessarily reflected in the other countries.
Kerry: Well, actually Dr. Green, that’s not entirely true. (Laughs a little) I’m sorry.
(Republican senator demurs in the background)
Well, let me tell you why it’s not, Senator: I was at the treaty signing which we ratified unanimously in the U.S. Senate — the 1992 framework convention, which George Herbert Walker Bush negotiated, and it’s been 18 years since, and we haven’t done a thing to meet it. In last 8 years emission in U.S. in green house gasses went up 4 times faster than in the 1990s. So that’s the reason we’re talking about the need to move to a mandatory reduction — because we didn’t, and nobody else did, either. A few people tried, here and there. So you just can’t just throw that stuff out there and say we do it, they don’t, blah blah blah.
You don’t accept that you have to hold it at 2 degrees. You may know something that thousands of other scientists don’t. You know, they won a Nobel Prize; you and I didn’t. And they won it for their work that said you got to hold it at 2 degrees Centigrade.
The G 20 … said we have to hold it at 2 degrees Centigrade. Maybe you know something we don’t about where the tipping point is. But I got a lot of scientists that I respect, who’s life work — from John Holdren who’s now the science advisor to the president, to Jim Hansen over at NASA and a bunch of others — who tell us that we have a ten year window to meet the standard of keeping the temperature from rising over 2 degrees Centigrade, or you reach a tipping point….
All of the evidence is coming back faster and to a greater degree than they predicted underscoring the predictions they made. At some point you have to step back and say these guys are making sense because what they said is going to happen is happening and it’s happening faster and at a greater risk.
If this had been a boxing match, the referee would have stopped it. Here’s more:
Kerry: Every most recent scientific update, and I get them periodically. I ask them to come in and say what’s happening; is it less than, what’s the rate? And without exception they look at me and say “Senator, I can’t even talk about some of the things that are happening today publicly because people won’t believe it.” Like columns of methane rising out of the ocean floor that you can light a match to and it will explode and burst into the open air because the permafrost is melting.
We just voted $400 million to move Newstalk, Alaska, to move it inland because of what’s happening in terms of the ice melt. There’s some 400 villages threatened. Ask Lisa Murkowski, or Mark Biggouch about what’s happening in Alaska.
All I can say to you is that we have to employ the Precautionary Principle here. If I’ve got a few thousand scientists over here and you and a few others over here, the weight is pretty heavy to say to me that as a public person I ought to implement the precautionary principle. And if I have chief executives like Jeff Immelt, Lou Hay, and Chad Holliday of Dupont and a bunch of other people who run Fortune 500 companies telling me, “Senator, we have to price carbon. And we want certainty in the market place,” I’m going to listen.
Unless you can give me an overpowering reason why those guys are all wrong, and I don’t think you have….
Green: All I can say, Senator, is that I read the IPCC reports….
He may have read them, but he didn’t get anything out of them.
Green’s lame defense of himself is no surprise since he regularly spouts stuff like, “No matter what you’ve been told, the technology to significantly reduce emissions is decades away and extremely costly” — from a 2008 speech AEI later removed from their website (excerpts here). And last month, he weirdly compared EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to Clint Eastwood and carbon polluters to criminals.
Kudos to Senator Kerry for exposing this American Enterprise Institute “expert.”
CAP’s Russell Sterten helped with this post.