Republican Lunatic Will Give Montana Its Very Own Science, Hooray!
A Republican state legislator in Montana has some great ideas about to protect his state from the depredations of Big Science: Just declare climate change fake and move on. State Rep. Joe Read of Ronan (population 1,871, the wee little sister of your editrix's big town of Polson, pop. 4000ish) is not a big fan of so-called "climate science," and in 2011 introduced a bill declaring climate change, if it's happening at all, beneficial to Montanta's economy. Surprisingly, it didn't go anywhere, but at least Read got mocked in the national press, and by one of his Democrat colleagues in the lege at the time, who said the very idea was "ludicrous" and called the bill "a waste of the Legislature's time." Now, Read is back with more important freedom legislation, and has has introduced a pair of blockbuster bills that would allow Montana to secede from both federal regulation and from scientific reality, because that is how you deal with the heavy hand of Big Government.
One of Read's ingenious bills insists that, under the Tenth Amendment, the feds cannot regulate greenhouse gases produced in Montana, because, duh, there is no interstate commerce involved in emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, so the feds have to butt out:
Because all greenhouse gasses produced in Montana clearly just hover directly over the state forever, this makes perfect sense. Accordingly, Read's bill would prohibit any state employees from cooperating with the federal government in the creation or enforcement of rules regulating carbon or other emissions, and the state government
may not implement or enforce in any way any federal regulation, rule, or policy implementing a federal greenhouse gas regulatory program.
When the bill came up for a hearing earlier this month, Read found he'd accomplished a marvelous thing: He'd managed to write a bill that environmentalists, state regulators, and representatives of industry all opposed. He's a real consensus builder, it seems! At the hearing, it fell to Andrew Olson, head of the Montana Petroleum Association, to point out that while states' rights are all well and good, it's really well-established that the federal government has the power to regulate air pollution, and so the only thing Read's bill would accomplish would be taking power away from the state to have any influence on federal regulations, not to make them disappear. No action was taken on the bill, and Read joked, "I'd like to apologize for offending the whole state."
Still, it wasn't all a waste of time! State Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, the Republican who chairs the House Energy, Technology and Federal Relations Committee, congratulated Read for "bringing everybody together to say that the EPA is a little bit heavy-handed," and was very proud of the whole committee for having such a civil discussion of the issue, because after all, "Climate change [...] is like the abortion of energy."
Read's other climate brainchild this session would have the practical effect of requiring the state's education and taxation bureaucracies to submit reports to the legislature on what they're teaching and taxing with regard to climate, which is no big, but the real meat of the proposal is to declare that all the science on greenhouse emissions and global warming is wrong, wrong, wrong, because 97 percent of climate scientists are in opposition to "a simple physics model [that] proves human carbon dioxide emissions contribute less than 5% to the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide," which means humans aren't causing climate change, duh. Again, the resolution is a masterpiece of excellent science AND whereases:
That's a lot of whereases, so it MUST be true, due to LOGIC, the math science of words!
The bill also insists that, despite the very measurable increases in CO2 (like, just in 2018, which set a new record for US carbon emissions), the IPCC has "failed" to prove there are any increases in atmospheric carbon at all. And no, we have no idea what the hell that "buffer capacity of the carbonate system" is even supposed to mean. But the upshot is that the entire world has it wrong, so Montana will declare the world wrong, climate change is not caused by humans, and Montana will now govern itself accordingly.
As for that "simple physics model" proving that 95 percent of CO2 emissions are natural and not caused by humans, that one's a bit weird. When Montana's House Natural Resources Committee debated the bill this week, that at least became clearer. Read started out by explaining that "CO2 has got a bad rap," and grumped -- like a common Trump National Security Council member -- that CO2 has been unfairly "treated as a poison."
Kudos here to Missoulian reporter Patrick Reilly for pointing to a 2017 medical journal article noting that concentrations of CO2 over 10 percent can "cause convulsions, coma, and death" in humans, though that has nothing to do with climate. Reilly also dutifully notes the scientific consensus that climate change is really real and caused by humans.
Finally, we learn where that simple physics thing came from: one Ed Berry of Bigfork, Montana, who explained that measurements of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere prove all climate scientists are wrong. As Ars Technica points out, as science cranks go, Berry isn't exactly a completely unqualified one:
Berry is remarkably qualified when it comes to climate change, having a publication record in atmospheric science that dates back to the 1950s. But he stopped publishing in the field in the early 1980s. And, as the legislative hearing made clear, his simple physics model has not been subjected to any peer review.
We skimmed the as-yet-unpublished paper Berry insists will prove the world's scientists wrong, and while Yr Dok Zoom is no physicist, and there's a heck of a lot of math, it looks iffy to our admittedly non-expert eye. This bit jumps out:
The level of CO2 in the atmosphere behaves like the level of water in a lake where water flows into the lake and then out over a dam. Inflow sets the balance level above the dam. The lake level changes until the level equals its balance level, where outflow equals inflow.
The level of CO2 in the atmosphere also behaves like water in a bucket where water flows into the bucket and flows out through a hole in the bottom. The level changes until the level equals its balance level, where outflow equals inflow.
Again, not a scientist, but we're pretty sure CO2 in the atmosphere isn't anything like that. We invite expert discussion in the comments.
In another post -- which doesn't yet seem to be the basis for any legislation -- Berry links to a whole lot of wackaloon climate deniers and offers this intriguing explanation of why humans can't be causing climate change. You see, it's all about the cosmic rays:
This is an approximation of how our solar system has traveled through spiral arms in our galaxy. New astronomical information suggests our galaxy has only two spiral arms and our solar system traveled around our galaxy twice as fast. Either way, the key point is Earth's climate cooled when it was inside a spiral arm and warmed significantly when it was outside a spiral arm. We are currently in the Orion-Cygnus spiral arm.
When our solar system exits our present spiral arm then it will likely warm by about 10C. Our concerns about a 0.1C warming pale in comparison. For now, we are in an "ice-age" climate.
There's certainly no arguing with that, we guess.
Berry's blog is truly a wonderful mishmash of stuff, in a TimeCube-y sort of way, but we're fairly sure it's not likely to revolutionize climate science. But you can find some neat stuff about the Deep State there if you want.
Sadly, it appears Read's quest to declare Montana a science outlaw will again fail. But we have no doubt it's because people simply refuse to see the truth when it's grabbing them by the spiral arm.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.