Raul Grijalva on witch hunt for climate skeptics

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D.-AZ), in his new role as ranking member of the House of Representatives Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, is going after seven researchers ( Richard Lindzen, John Christy, Judith Curry, Steven Hayward, Roger Pielke, David Legates, and Robert Balling) who dared to present evidence that the government’s position on climate change is wrong. One of the allegations is that these “climate skeptics” are funded by “Big Oil” (not so) while ignoring the fact that “Big Oil” funds many environmental groups.

One of his targets is Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Pielke maintains a blog here:

Pielke’s crime, according to Grijalva, is that he has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on climate change and its economic impacts. His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.” This statement challenges the orthodoxy of anthropogenic global warming.

Pielke’s 2013 testimony contained these heretical statements:

Globally, weather-related losses have not increased since 1990 as a proportion of GDP (they have actually decreased by about 25%).

Insured catastrophe losses have not increased as a proportion of GDP since 1960.
Hurricanes have not increased in the US in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900.

There are no significant trends (up or down) in global tropical cyclone landfalls since 1970 (when data allows for a comprehensive perspective), or in the overall number of tropical cyclones.

Floods have not increased in the US in frequency or intensity since at least 1950.

Flood losses as a percentage of US GDP have dropped by about 75% since 1940.

Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950, and there is some evidence to suggest that they have actually declined.

Drought has “for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U. S. over the last century.”

Pielke writes of this situation in a post on The Climate Fix. In that post Pielke notes:

Congressman Grijalva doesn’t have any evidence of any wrongdoing on my part, either ethical or legal, because there is none. He simply disagrees with the substance of my testimony – which is based on peer-reviewed research funded by the US taxpayer, and which also happens to be the consensus of the IPCC (despite Holdren’s incorrect views).

Adam Sarvana, communications director for Natural Resources Committee’s Democratic delegation, reinforced the politically-motivated nature of the investigation in an interview:

“The way we chose the list of recipients is who has published widely, who has testified in Congress before, who seems to have the most impact on policy in the scientific community”

Let’s see – widely published, engaged with Congress, policy impact — these are supposed to be virtues of the modern academic researcher, right?

Grijalva sent a hypocritical letter to the president of the University of Colorado complaining about potential conflicts of interest on funding. (See letter here) Pielke notes in his post that when he testified before Congress, he disclosed his “funding and possible conflicts of interest. So I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated ‘witch hunt’ designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name.”

Pielke concludes his post by writing “When ‘witch hunts’ are deemed legitimate in the context of popular causes, we will have fully turned science into just another arena for the exercise of power politics. The result is a big loss for both science and politics.”

Comments from Dr. Roy Spencer,U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite and Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville:

One of the biggest misconceptions about climate research funding is that government funding is unbiased. That is, the belief that government funding does not favor one outcome over another.

Government funding programs are, in part, formulated by government political appointees who prefer research with outcomes that support their government programs.

Similarly, university research scientists who provide peer review of proposals for funding favor those proposals which offer to make findings that everyone knows will help to perpetuate funding. After all, it is difficult to get Congress to agree to fund non-problems, and yet climate research funding has to continue in order for the current marching army of lifelong climate researchers to have jobs.

Follow the money, folks.

So, while we wait to see just how the current witch hunt plays out (which I am told has now been extended to some skeptical-leaning think tanks), let me ask:

1) Are you OK with the fact that U.S. energy policy has been informed by an international scientific organization (the IPCC) whose outgoing chairman this week admitted that global warming is his “religion“? Or that others in the IPCC have admitted their goal is global income redistribution? Is this the “unbiased” source of scientific information you want your government to rely on for energy policy?

2) Are you OK with the fact that U.S. government funding for non-human sources of climate change has been almost non-existent?

The governmental Goliath is coming after David. It will be interesting to see what happens.

The American Meteorological Society to Grijalva, saying in part:

“Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers.” See full letter here.

The Republicans strike back:

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OKla.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), today led all EPW Republicans in a letter promoting scientific discovery and academic freedom. The letter was sent to the same 107 recipients of letters sent earlier this week by Congressional Democrats to universities, private companies, trade groups, and non-profit organizations, asking for detailed information on funding climate science. As explained in the EPW Republican letter sent today, there is a real concern the Democrats inquiry may impose a chilling effect on scientific inquiry and free speech.

“Rather than empower scientists and researchers to expand the public discourse on climate science and other environmental topics, the [Democrats] letter could be viewed as an attempt to silence legitimate intellectual and scientific inquiry,” said the Senators in today’s letter. See letter here.

“It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong.” Voltaire

Note: i live in Grijalva’s Congressional district and I have written him expressing displeasure with his tactics.  I will update this post if he responds.


Local Politicians Against Jobs

Southern Arizona is blessed with abundant mineral resources, and cursed with a Congressional delegation and county supervisors, such as Ray Carroll, who would deny us that blessing.

Representatives Gabrielle Giffords and Raul Grijalva have introduced HR2944, the Southern Arizona Public Lands Protection Act of 2009 into the House. This bill would prohibit staking of mining claims, mineral leases, and geothermal projects on all federal land in Pima and Santa Cruz Counties (subject to pre-existing rights). This is essentially a response to the Rosemont mining venture.

Apparently, these politicians are not in favor of good jobs or economic opportunity.

According to testimony before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, the Steelworkers union opposes the bill. “HR 2944 is bad public policy. The bill would completely bypass the federal EIS process put in place under the National Environmental Policy Act for consideration of proposed mining and minerals operations that involve public lands. The EIS (environmental impact statement) process involves state and local agencies on a collaborating basis and works well to thoroughly examine proposed projects. Congressional intervention to enact land use and resources development policy on a county-by-county basis is a bad idea. In addition, job creation would be sacrificed in this bill. Mining plays a strong economic role and has done so for more than a century in Arizona.”

“In Arizona, the average mining job pays $60,000, which is 44% higher than the average pay in the state. Tourism and retail jobs on the other hand pay, on average, about half this amount or just over $29,000. In addition, for every new mining job, another 4 indirect jobs are created. Arizona is home to 411 mining operations that provide direct employment to about 18,480 people and another 34,360 people indirectly from mining activity occurring both in and outside the state for a total of 52,840 jobs statewide.”

The law is also poorly written and may have unintended consequences. For instance, the law would prohibit “all forms of entry, appropriation, and disposal under the public land laws.” The word “entry,” in what I think is the intended context, means “mineral entry” the terminology used for staking and registering a mining claim. But, as written, the law could be construed to prohibit cattle grazing, hunting, hiking, other forms of recreation, and use by the border patrol. The only “entry” we will see is by illegal aliens and drug smugglers.

To give you some idea of the mineral potential of Pima County and the folly of HR2944, I present below, excerpts from a 2001 publication, “Mineral Potential of Eastern Pima County, Arizona” published by the Arizona Geological Survey as Contributed Report 01-B. This report was written in response to Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan by The Southwestern Minerals Exploration Association, a group of local geologists (I am a co-author of the report).

Mineral production has always been viewed as an essential industry, not only to generate wealth and provide employment, but also for the array of products that are consumed by a society. Terms such as Bronze Age and Iron Age have served to demonstrate the essential role of minerals in improving a society’s standard of living. Today, in what we have come to call the Technology Age, the demand for minerals and mineral-bearing products has grown exponentially. This is not surprising, over the last four thousand years, societies with mineral technologies have flourished, while those lacking mineral resources have either conquered to take others, or have ultimately perished.

Mineral production is essential to our civilization because minerals provide the raw materials which allow our society to function. Pima County is endowed with many mineral resources, not only copper mines, but also the important products such as sand, gravel, and limestone used everyday in supporting the infrastructure of our cities. It is essential that these mineral resources, and the lands where they occur, remain available for exploration and development.

Pima County has a unique, and complex, geological history which makes it critical habitat for large copper deposits, geothermal resources, and many industrial minerals such as sand, gravel, gypsum, and limestone. This report documents known occurrences of these mineral deposits, and delineates areas with the greatest potential for future discovery of additional mineral deposits, based on existing geological and geochemical data, and upon proven methods of investigation.

Spencer R. Titley, University of Arizona Professor, wrote in 1982: “The porphyry copper deposits of southeastern Arizona and contiguous regions compose one of the richest copper metallogenic provinces on earth and perhaps the richest of seven separate porphyry copper provinces which surround the Pacific Basin. At least thirty-five separately named significant occurrences of porphyry-intrusion-related concentrations of copper occur here and the

record of discovery suggests that more will be found.” (Titley, Spencer R., 1982, Advances in Geology of the Porphyry Copper Deposits, Southwestern North America: University of Arizona Press, Tucson Arizona 560 pp.)

The first map below shows the distribution of known copper deposits in Pima and Santa Cruz Counties. The red color show outcrops of Laramide intrusives, which can be the generators of the mineral deposits. The brown shows outcrops of older host rocks. Additional potential occurs in the valleys under cover.


The next map shows the mines and areas that hold additional potential for discovery in Pima County. The broad orange arcs are areas favorable for exploration and discovery of porphyry copper deposits as defined by members of the Southwestern Mineral Exploration Association. The yellow areas (e.g. G-1) are tracts permissive for the occurrence of porphyry copper deposits defined by the U.S.Geological Survey in OFR 90-276 “Preliminary Mineral Resource Assessment of the Tucson and Nogales 1 x 2 Quadrangles, Arizona.” The green areas (e.g. T-1) are tracts favorable for the presence of undiscovered mineral deposits – High Potential Tract defined by the U. S. Geological Survey in Bulletin 2083 A-K “Resource Potential and Geology of Coronado National Forest, Southeastern Arizona and Southwestern N.M.”


The next map shows (in blue) the geothermal potential in Pima County. This is a low temperature resource suitable for space heating and cooling for industrial parks and residential developments such as apartments, town houses, condominiums and neighborhoods composed of single-family dwellings. This type of resource is also suitable for aquaculture and greenhouse agriculture. Studies show that 30 degree C water is ubiquitous at depths of 300m and that potential exists for potential for 50- to 55 degree C water at a depth of 1,000 m.

The red area is a mercury anomaly which sits below our water recharge project in Avra Valley (does Tucson Water know about this?). Not to worry though, the mercury anomaly is 75-750 ppb Hg while ADEQ allowable residential standard is 6,700 ppb Hg. (Reference: Hahman, W. R. and Allen, T. J., 1981, Subsurface stratigraphy and geothermal resource potential of the Avra Vally, Pima County Arizona: Arizona Bureau Geol & Min. Technology, OFR 81-5).


The American mining industry pioneered Arizona. For more than one hundred years, metal and aggregate companies have operated under the rules and regulations set out in legal frameworks.

Few anticipated that they would lose access to land for future mineral development. Viewed as a societal good, access to the land encouraged growth. The mineral products provided much needed materials for construction, trade, and local economies. Land-use planning was motivated by economic development needs, manifest in the desire for improved tax bases and infrastructure. Therefore mining plays a key role. We should not let short-sighted politicians deprive us of these benefits.

(Disclaimer: I spent my professional career exploring for and helping develop mineral deposits, and I worked for a major mining company. I have, however, no connection with Rosemont or Augusta Resources.)