Posted by: Barry Bickmore | January 18, 2011

Orrin Hatch’s Response

Just a few days after I posted Explaining Orrin Hatch, in which I talked about why I think Orrin Hatch is a reasonable person who is worth talking to about climate change issues, I got the reply pasted below.  Senator Hatch was responding to a letter I wrote complaining that his Climate Change 101 web page had numerous problems, e.g., it employed graphs created by Christopher Monckton to discredit the IPCC, but which contained falsified data.  Senator Hatch certainly didn’t roll over on the issue, but he did one very important thing–he said he would take down Monckton’s graphs, at least until Monckton had a chance to respond to the criticisms.  (I can’t wait.)  To me, it seems that Senator Hatch showed himself to be someone who takes to heart my first two laws of being a reasonable person:

Bickmore’s First Law of Being Reasonable

Reasonable people understand that good arguments can sometimes lead to false conclusions, and bad arguments can sometimes lead to true conclusions.

Bickmore’s Second Law of Being Reasonable

Reasonable people resist bad arguments, even if they agree with the conclusions.

If Orrin Hatch were the sort of person who would cling to graphs that demonstrably contain falsified data, just because they support the conclusion he likes, he wouldn’t be worth talking to.  But if we elect people who are capable of examining their own arguments and throwing out the bad ones, I have to hope that will be enough to ensure we can make some sort of progress.

Here’s Senator Hatch’s letter.

December 21, 2010

Dear Dr. Bickmore:

Thank you for contacting me about my Climate 101 web link and your blog. I apologize for the delay in my response and appreciate your input.

I appreciate your bringing to my attention the disagreement surrounding Lord Christopher Monckton’s graphs,which I included on my climate issue page. I have requested more information from Lord Monckton relevant to his reasoning behind his graphs. Until I have the opportunity to hear his response, I have decided to suspend the use of the graphs on my site.

There does appear to be general agreement that the earth is in an overall warming phase as it recovers from the Holocene and Little Ice Ages. Furthermore, it does appear that a majority of scientists agree that humans have some impact on the climate.  However, it gives me pause that so many IPCC lead authors and other United Nations scientists voice very strong skepticism about the IPPC’s conclusions.

In an e-mail to me you expressed. concern that I am “dismissing the judgement of 97-98% of active climate scientists.” I am accustomed to polls but am unsure of their value in science. As you know, scientific advances often come at the expense of consensus positions. To me, it is enough to know that a number of the actual authors of the IPCC reports do not support the conclusions laid out in Summary for policymakers, which is not a scientific document. It would be just as simple for me to ask why you dismiss these scientists,who are the very authors of the IPCC reports.  I have heard, first hand, from very well regarded scientists who have received all manner of scorn from their community for expressing honest doubts about climate alarmism.  I would argue it is their views that are being dismissed.

While I am not a scientist, I am a policymaker.  As such, it is my responsibility to evaluate policy proposals based on a cost-benefit analysis. I have seen two competing cost-benefit analyses of the recent Waxman/Markey cap-and-trade legislation.  Based on the target carbon reductions in that proposal calculated against the IPPC’s assumptions for the warming factor of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the legislation, if successful, would reduce the climate by between a total of .07 and .1 degree Celsius after nearly a century of effort. Laying a certain financial burden on taxpayers for a benefit that is nearly immeasurable is not a proposal I can get behind.

While I am not greatly alarmed about rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide at this time, I am quite concerned about criteria pollutants in our air and the oil dependency of our transportation sector. I have fought for improvements in each of these areas, and as a consequence, I have also done quite a bit to reduce carbon emissions.

I was the author of the Clean Efficient Automobiles Resulting from Advanced Car Technologies Act of 2005 (CLEAR ACT).  You may have heard of the tax credits for consumers purchasing hybrid electric vehicles, the tax credit for the retail sale of alternative fuels for vehicle use, and the tax incentives for establishing alternative fuel filling stations. I established all these tax incentives through the CLEAR ACT, which became law as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005).  Furthermore, I have led the effort in Congress to shift our transportation sector toward the electric grid as a source of alternative fuel. I was the author of the FREEDOM Act, which promotes plugins and plugin hybrid vehicles sales and their manufacture in the United States.  While I was the lead sponsor of this bill, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and then Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) played a supporting role as original cosponsors. We were very pleased that this important legislation was passed and signed into law by President George W. Bush. As a result of tnis law, consumers who purchase the new Nissan Leaf and the CheVy Volt will receive generous tax incentives.

I introduced S. 1156 in 2005 to provide a longer life for the renewable energy production tax credit .and to give renewable energy companies greater certainty as to the availability of this incentive into the futu~e, and I worked successfully to get this proposal included in EPACT 2005 and enacted into law.

I worked with Senator Kent Conrad (Democrat, ND) as an original cosponsor of S. 3208, the Carbon Technology Bridge Act of 2008. It provides incentives for the demonstration and use of carbon capture technologies in the United States. This technology is not yet commercially available but would be a necessary part of any effort to reduce U.S. carbon emissions through incentives rather than through mandates. This bill has also become law.

I have aggressively sought to increase our nation’s use of alternative and renewable fuels both in the transportation and the electricity sectors. As you can see, my legislative record is a reflection of my belief that solutions can be found even when serious differences exist. It also reflects my strong belief that the market can be a powerful force in bringing about positive change.

Again, thanks for contacting me about my Climate 101 site.  I hope you will continue to let me know your perspective on the important issues facing our nation and the planet .

Your Senator,

Orrin G. Hatch

United States Senator

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