CNN invited long-time climate denier Tom DeLay, former Republican House majority leader, to discuss the new National Climate Assessment report, and he used the opportunity to spread lies about climate change and climate scientists.
During an interview with CNN Right Now host Brianna Keilar, DeLay lambasted the climate report, calling it “an alarmist political document” that is “nothing more than a rehash of age-old 10- to 20-year assumptions made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming.” Fellow climate denier Rick Santorum was roundly mocked on social media on Sunday for making a similar point on CNN when he argued, “A lot of these scientists are driven by the money.”
DeLay said, “Climate change is caused by man -- that's not proven. There is plenty of scientists that say otherwise.” This statement falls flat in the face of the virtually unanimous established scientific consensus on climate change: 97 percent of climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that humans are causing global warming.
DeLay also spouted falsehoods regarding the level of destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey last year, which broke records by dumping more than 60 inches of rain on the Houston area. He claimed that “the only reason we had the huge flood we had was the government-run dams that failed outside of Houston.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, however, concluded that the dams did not fail. DeLay also disputed the notion that climate change was a factor in increasing the amount of rain that the hurricane dumped on Houston. But two scientific studies last year concluded that rainfall from Harvey was “significantly heavier than it would have been before the era of human-caused global warming,” as The Washington Post reported, while a third study published in May of this year reached a similar conclusion. NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory also notes that hurricane rainfall rates “will likely increase in the future due to anthropogenic warming.”
DeLay also dismissed the idea that climate change played a role in the recent California wildfires. Again, he is wrong -- numerous scientific experts agree that climate change was a factor in worsening those fires.
From the November 26 episode of CNN Right Now:
BRIANNA KEILAR (HOST): Mr. Leader, we’ve been talking about climate change here, this report that came out from the administration on Friday. It was largely buried. I mean, no one is paying much attention to the news on Black Friday. But I wonder what you think. I was reading one of your op-eds from more than 10 years ago where you talk about when it comes to climate change, you said that it's mostly nonsense, but you also advocated for a truly workable package of reforms, you said. You said that no one really voted for a Republican because of his campaign's clever environmental white paper. But I wonder if you think things have changed here in the last 10 years as we have seen some of these effects. We’re seeing more Republicans who are talking about climate change, whose constituents are even under water. You are from the Houston area, you represented the Houston area, you know about this. Is there something that Republicans should be doing here?
TOM DELAY (FORMER REPUBLICAN HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER): They should be standing up for good, solid science -- I tried to read the report that came out Friday and frankly it is horrible. It's a political document and I can't understand why the Trump administration allows -- I know that the statute calls for such a report, but for this kind of report which is nothing more than a political document, and an alarmist political document -- why they let it out like this. They should have written a completely different kind of report based on real science. Climate change is real. Climate has --
KEILAR: You think scientists in the administration -- you think that they -- so, you are basically saying there was sort of a conspiracy to do something that was inaccurate? I guess I'm not following you.
DELAY: Well, look at the report. The report is nothing more than a rehash of age-old 10- to 20-year assumptions made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming. That's what this is all about. It's not any new science. It’s not any new -- the only new stuff is the alarmist stuff that in 80 years we’re gonna see people dying and starving and all that kind of stuff. I remember growing up with Paul Ehrlich and his population bomb. He predicted that right now we would all be starving worldwide and he’s been discredited and debunked on his fake science.
KEILAR: But this isn’t one guy. This is -- I mean this is overwhelmingly accepted science.
DELAY: No, Brianna. Everybody bought into that population bomb, and it affected the politics and a lot of bad stuff was passed in Congress and others that never benefitted anybody or had any change. We need to be focused on adapting to climate and droughts and fires and those kinds of things. We can adapt. You mentioned Houston: The only reason we had the huge flood we had was the government-run dams that failed outside of Houston.
KEILAR: Well reports said it was -- and just to be clear when you’re talking about Harvey, we are talking about feet of rain being dumped in days there in Houston. Reports -- reputable reports said that that was increased significantly because of climate change, that it supercharged the storm.
DELAY: Not at all. Brianna, we had the same rain about five years ago. And we had some flooding, but we did a lot of adaptation and fixing the infrastructure and stuff. And there were a lot of people that flooded before that didn't flood here. I'm not minimizing the devastation of the flood in Houston. What I'm saying is that most of the houses that were flooded was because of two dams built by the Corps of Engineers and managed by government failed. And flooded places that had never had any flooding. So the point is it wasn’t climate change that did it --
KEILAR: In the face of unprecedented rain due in part to climate change is what scientists said.
DELAY: No, no. You can't say it. No, it was not unprecedented rain. We had the same -- we had 24 inches of rain just four or five years ago and didn't have this kind of flooding. We had flooding and we have certain areas that flood, but it wasn't unprecedented. We’ve had these storms for the last 100 years and there wasn't the quote man-made greenhouse gases that were going on. We are going to have these storms, we just have to mitigate them. The fires in California are because of environmental policy. It’s not because of climate change. They’ve shut down whole parts of the forest in California and allowed the brush to grow up, which is, they call fuel. And instead of cleaning that fuel out and keeping it clean and minimizing the fires, the environmentalists and crazy Gov. Jerry Brown --
KEILAR: Scientists -- I will say, Mr. Leader, that scientists take issue with what you’re saying. In this report that you are casting aspersions on from the government, this is 300 leading scientists and 13 federal agencies. What do you say to that?
DELAY: I could give you 300 scientists that will say the difference. If you read the report, there is no dissenting opinion. It’s all politics.
KEILAR: That would be more difficult to find. Well, what does that mean that there is no dissenting opinion? That means it is widely accepted science.
DELAY: No, it's not widely accepted. It's accepted by the politics. Read the first line of the report. It's a political statement. Climate change is caused by man -- that's not proven. There is plenty of scientists that say otherwise. And through the entire report there’s no dissenting opinion. They went out and picked out people that would say what their conclusion they already wrote before they even did the report. It's flawed, it's ridiculous, and frankly, embarrassing.
KEILAR: Alright, Tom DeLay, thank you so much for being with us, former majority leader -- former Republican majority leader. We do appreciate it. And I should say, I do just have to say this: There is acceptance among scientists that there is man-made climate change. Just important to note there.