This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Pig-headed denial masquerading as fact-finding. Fantasy posing as scientific method. Expertise in metallurgy magically transformed into expertise in climatology. Willful, head-in-the-sand ignorance in the face of a global threat that demands an immediate global response.
All of the above were on disheartening display last week as the Utah Legislature's Interim Public Utilities and Technology Committee once again took up the subject of climate change. And, once again, Rep. Mike Noel, the committee co-chairman and climate change denier-in-chief, turned it into theater of the absurd.
"What we are able to do in this forum is bring a little bit more reason and rationality to the process" than does the media. "I think we've had both sides," said Noel, who made dang sure only one side got heard.
Perhaps the Kanab Republican really believes that US Magnesium metallurgist Tom Tripp, who has no training in reading a climate model, is nevertheless an expert on global warming and worth listening to. Perhaps he really believes that human reliance on fossil fuels isn't driving climate change. Perhaps he really doesn't see any reason for the committee to consider why the overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed studies performed by actual climate scientists show that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are rapidly warming the planet.
We don't know for sure. What is clear, however, is that Noel's loathing of environmental activism encompasses his views on climate change. In other words, don't bother him with the facts because global warming is a plot by tree-hugging liberals to destroy the rights of individuals -- and corporations -- to determine their own destinies. Noel, of course, is not a lone voice of unreason in the Legislature, where too many see climate change through the prism of partisan politics.
This wall of denial will crumble, just as it is crumbling around the world. The evidence of a warming planet is everywhere and increasingly dire. One example among many: Within days of Noel's hearing, the National Climatic Data Center reported that the average global water temperature in July was 62.6 degrees, the warmest in nearly 130 years of record-keeping. Ocean temperatures near the Arctic are up to 10 degrees above average, which increases the likelihood of sea ice melting from below as well as above.
But if the integrity of the Arctic ice sheet is too worrisome, you can always give Noel a call. He'll cool you down.