Ted Cruz Misleads on Climate Science

A video going around Facebook again (first posted back in September 2015) shows Ted Cruz answering an impatient questioner on climate science. Cruz displayed a calm demeanor but he played loose with the facts. The questioner asked Cruz if he denies climate change. Watch:
Unfortunately the questioner got in his own way at first. However, once Cruz got to answer, he claimed three things.

  1. Thirty to forty years ago, there was a group of liberals and scientists who claimed the world was getting cooler. The consensus was that the Earth was cooling and required massive government intervention to stop it.
  2. Then when the data disproved global cooling, the same scientists started to claim the Earth was warming.
  3. According to the satellite data, the Earth has warmed over the past 18 years. Because of that, the preferred term now for those who urge massive government control is “climate change.”

There is irony in Cruz lamenting liberals who he claims have the same answer to every problem because Cruz rarely varies in his analysis of national issues. Nearly every problem comes down to the liberals in Washington who want to exercise over the people.
Cruz is wrong on each point and like his Super PAC president David Barton, constructs a false narrative which he uses to deflect attention away from inconvenient facts.
First, there was no consensus that the Earth was cooling complete with liberals calling for government control of U.S. citizens. A review of scientific papers published in the 1970s on climate found that only seven articles from 1965-1979 proposed “global cooling” as a theory. Forty-four articles supported the idea of a warming planet during that same period.
Second, Cruz said the scientists went to the “global warming” next when global cooling didn’t work out. Third, Cruz said the data shows no warming over the past 18 years. However, he refers to satellite data for his conclusion. Surface and ocean temperature warming are much more accurate indicators of what is happening on the surface of the Earth. Generally, satellite data records conditions in orbit and must go through conversions to approximate surface temperatures. Cruz apparently relies on satellite data because they support his views. The earth has been warming and the last couple of months have been the hottest on record.
This is a very brief narrative from Cruz but in just a couple of minutes, he made everyone who heard him less knowledgeable about climate change. He is wrong about some “global cooling consensus.” He is wrong about the reason climate scientists began warning about global warming and he is wrong about the direction of the temperature over the past 18 years. He sounds smooth and smart but is way off the mark.
Because accuracy regarding the climate is a critical scientific issue going forward, Cruz’s stance is one of the reasons I think he is not ready to be president. I outlined the remaining reasons yesterday.
*I want to thank Christian scientists John Abraham, Katherine Hayhoe, and Erik Anderson for helping me locate and understand data for this post.