Bum Steer Awards 2018 No. 8: Lamar Smith
The outgoing congressman takes eighth place for his refusal to face the truth about climate change.
In November, San Antonio Republican Lamar Smith announced that he would be retiring from Congress at the end of his term. A longtime climate-change skeptic, Smith is the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, a distressingly powerful post for someone at odds with the scientific community. Just about any knowledgeable person agrees that the climate is changing, that human activity has contributed to it, and that the effects could threaten the planet.
Smith, on the other hand, isn’t so sure, and at various times he has squared off against staffers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. Almost no one has done more to delay addressing climate change in the U.S. than Smith. In addition, his reluctance to embrace decarbonization works against the interests of Texas, which is a global leader in natural gas, wind, and solar power. Smith’s denialism isn’t just bad for the planet, it’s bad for his constituents.
Between now and the end of his term, here are five things he could do to help repair his reputation, help Texas, and help the world.
No. 1: Do a 180! Smith should repudiate his stance on climate change. He should say that it’s real and lead the effort to address it. His fellow Texans along the Gulf Coast will thank him.
No. 2: Admit it! The “lull” in global warming earlier this century—a piece of data that climate-change deniers often cite to make their case—was based on faulty research. He should say so.
No. 3: Stay out of the way! Smith should walk back his notion that politicians should help select National Science Foundation grant recipients. Leave that to the peer-reviewed panels.
No. 4: Pony up! Texas has great universities with top-notch STEM departments; shouldn’t we do everything we can to fund them in ways that will help them become part of the
No. 5: Turn Texas loose! Support Texas-based solutions to climate change. A market that penalizes coal power incentivizes natural gas, solar, and wind power, which works in Texas’s favor.