Outgoing Republican Rep. Bob Inglis (S.C.) broke with his party today and publicly vented his frustration about the apparent turn toward climate skepticism in the next Congress, when Republicans will take control of the House.
Inglis, who has served six terms in the House, was soundly defeated by a more conservative opponent in a Republican primary this year and has blamed the loss in part on his belief in climate science, which hurt him with voters. Inglis made his frustration clear this morning at a House Science subcommittee hearing on the science of climate change.
"To my free enterprise colleagues, whether you think it's all a bunch of hooey, what we talk about in this committee -- the Chinese don't, and they plan on eating our lunch in the next century, working on these problems," Inglis said. "We may press the pause button for a few years, but China is pressing the fast-forward button."
Inglis, ranking member of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, also took aim at "people who make a lot of money on talk radio and talk TV saying a lot of things. They slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and they're experts on climate change. They substitute their judgment for people who have Ph.D.s and work tirelessly" on climate change.
Inglis' remarks stood in stark contrast to those of 87-year-old Texas Republican Rep. Ralph Hall, the leading candidate to take the House Science and Technology gavel in the next Congress, who took a potshot at the White House's use of the term "global climate disruption" and said that "reasonable people have serious questions about our knowledge of the state of the science."
In light of those comments and pledges by other incoming committee chairmen to probe the science of climate change, Inglis had pointed advice for climate scientists.
"I encourage the scientists that are listening out there to get ready for the hearings that are coming up in the next Congress," he said. "Those will be difficult hearings for climate scientists. But I would encourage you to welcome those as fabulous opportunities to teach. Don't come here defensively. Say, 'I'm glad to have an opportunity to explain the science.'"
Inglis said that advice was informed by his experience on a congressional delegation to Antarctica a few years ago, where he encountered "master teacher" Donal Manahan, a marine biologist at the University of Southern California.
Correction: Inglis has said his belief in climate science was partly responsible for his defeat in the Republican primary; an earlier version incorrectly stated that he had voted for Democrats' cap-and-trade legislation.