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Everything Senator Ted Cruz said about climate change in this NPR interview was wrong

· Archived ScienceBlog,Climate change
On December 9th, National Public Radio broadcast an interview between NPR’s Steve Inskeep and Senator Ted Cruz on the subject of climate change. Below is an annotated transcript of that interview with my [bracketed] responses to the consistently false scientific claims made by Senator Cruz. Effectively, every single scientific point he made was wrong – a classic “Gish Gallop” of long-debunked talking points of those who dispute the unambiguous scientific evidence of climate change. In these bracketed annotations I have provided a few hyperlinks to each of the myths he repeats. I have tried not to address the many other political and ideological points he made about climate change and scientists during this interview, though a few seem to have snuck in.


INSKEEP: What do you think about what is seen as a broad scientific consensus that there is man-caused climate change?

TED CRUZ: Well, I believe that public policy should follow the science and follow the data. I am the son of two mathematicians and computer programmers and scientists. In the debate over global warming, far too often politicians in Washington – and for that matter, a number of scientists receiving large government grants – disregard the science and data and instead push political ideology. [This is a classic ad hominem attack accusing the entire climate science community of pushing ideology for money, while also painting “government grants” for science as political. There is no basis for this.] You and I are both old enough to remember 30, 40 years ago, when, at the time, we were being told by liberal politicians and some scientists that the problem was global cooling… [This is a classic and false claim. There was never any significant scientific agreement that global cooling was a threat: indeed, even in the ‘70s, the scientific consensus was that the risk was warming.]

INSKEEP: There was a moment when some people said that.

CRUZ: That we were facing the threat of an incoming ice age. [False. As noted above, there were a very small number of scientific papers discussing cooling, and even they did not talk about a coming “ice age.” The few media stories about this have been repeatedly seized on by skeptics and deniers as evidence that scientists were wrong decades ago, and thus must still be wrong today. Here is a good summary of the “myth” of global cooling that Senator Cruz is still promulgating, despite it having been debunked long ago.] And their solution to this problem is that we needed massive government control of the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives. [False: Cruz uses a false scientific claim to put forth a false political claim. Very few scientists offer opinions about specific policies to address climate change, but when they do – as is their right as citizens – their policy preferences are diverse.] But then, as you noted, the data didn’t back that up. So then, many of those same liberal politicians and a number of those same scientists switched their theory to global warming. [False. But even if it was true, switching positions and testing new theories based on new scientific data is exactly the way the scientific method works.]

INSKEEP: This is a conspiracy, then, in your view.

CRUZ: No, this is liberal politicians who want government power over the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives.

INSKEEP: And almost all the countries in the world have joined in to this approach?

CRUZ: So let me ask you a question, Steve. Is there global warming, yes or no?

INSKEEP: According to the scientists, absolutely.

CRUZ: I’m asking you.


CRUZ: OK, you are incorrect, actually. The scientific evidence doesn’t support global warming. [False: Inskeep is correct and Cruz is wrong. The scientific evidence unambiguously shows warming. This is the position of every single professional scientific society and every single National Academy of Sciences on the planet. Here is a partial list.] For the last 18 years, the satellite data – we have satellites that monitor the atmosphere. The satellites that actually measure the temperature showed no significant warming whatsoever. [False: every single method used to evaluate global, regional, and local temperatures shows warming, including satellites. See, for example, here ]

INSKEEP: I’ll just note that NASA analyzes that same data differently. But we can go on.

CRUZ: But no, they don’t. You can go and look at the data. [False: Senator Cruz is wrong again (See Figure below): Here are the data and NASA’s analysis clearly showing warming.] And by the way, this hearing – we have a number of scientists who are testifying about the data. But here’s the key point. Climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory for a big government politician who wants more power. Why? Because it is a theory that can never be disproven. [False: This also shows a fundamental misunderstanding of science and the scientific method. Atmospheric and climatological science is well understood and produces hypotheses that are constantly tested, confirmed, refuted, and regularly revised. And as it improves, the concerns about global climate change have consistently strengthened, not declined. See, for example, the 40 years of reports on this issue from the US National Academy of Sciences.]

broken image

[One of many global temperature records maintained by scientific groups around the world, all showing clear evidence of global warming of land and oceans.] Source:


INSKEEP: Do you question the science on other widely accepted issues – for example, evolution?

CRUZ: There is a fundamental difference, which is in the name of global warming, you have politicians trying to impose trillions of dollars of cost on the world. In the I-95 Corridor, among the Washington elite, global warming is very popular because it makes you feel good about caring for the world. But I’ll tell you, you know who I’m concerned about? I’m concerned about the single mom waiting tables right now, who for seven years of the Obama economy has been trapped in stagnation. Her wages have been stagnating. It’s harder and harder to make ends meet. And what the Washington elites are trying to do is double her energy bill. [False: there is no evidence that addressing the risks of climate change will cost more than paying the costs of unabated climate change. Indeed, the economic evidence is the opposite –the benefits of strong early action on climate change outweigh the costs.”]

INSKEEP: Do you question other science, like evolution?

CRUZ: Any good scientist questions all science. If you show me a scientist that stops questioning science, I’ll show you someone who isn’t a scientist. And I’ll tell you, Steve. And I’ll tell you why this has shifted. Look in the world of global warming. What is the language they use? They call anyone who questions the science – who even points to the satellite data – they call you a, quote, “denier.” Denier is not the language of science. Denier is the language of religion. It is heretic. You are a blasphemer. It’s treated as a theology. But it’s about power and money. At the end of the day, it’s not complicated. This is liberal politicians who want government power.

INSKEEP: You know that your critics would say that it’s about power and money on your side. Let’s not go there for the moment. But I want to ask about this. I want to ask about facts.

CRUZ: But hold on a second. Who’s power – but let’s stop. I mean, if you are going to…

INSKEEP: Energy industry, oil industry, Texas…

CRUZ: If you’re going to toss an ad hominem.

INSKEEP: OK, not meaning to be an ad hominem. But you know. You know there are economic interests on all sides of this.

CRUZ: If you’re going to toss an ad hominem, then let’s actually respond because there’s not a moral equivalency. You say it is about power and money. [This is an ironic comment, given that he has just tarred all climate scientists with the ad hominem claim they are misrepresenting climate science for money and ideology. Inskeep is appropriately trying to make this point.] I’m trying to keep power with the American people. I’m trying to keep power with the single mom waiting tables not to drive up her energy bills. I’m trying to keep power with the teenage immigrant, like my dad was, washing dishes. Now, how is that about power and money other than keeping Washington out of their lives and making it easier for people to achieve the American dream? That’s who I’m fighting for.

INSKEEP: Final thing, Ernest Moniz, the energy secretary, pointed out on All Things Considered the other day that the cost of renewable and alternative energies has been going down drastically, that technology is constantly advancing. And on a basic level, of course, pollution is inefficiency. If you can be more efficient, it actually saves people money. If you found out that climate change was cheaper to address than it seems to now, would you change your view of it?

CRUZ: Of course there will be alternative energies. We will have innovation. And I promise you this. The alternative energy innovations are not going to come from Washington. They’re not going to come from the cronyism of this town. They’re not going to come from Solyndra because when Washington does that, they allocate money based on political concerns, not based on what is necessary. I fully expect in a hundred years, or maybe 50 years, or maybe even 10 or 20 years – I mean, change can be very rapid. And I am excited to see where that goes. But it will come from the private sector, not from government.

INSKEEP: Senator Cruz, thanks very much.

CRUZ: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Republican presidential candidate.