Environment

A Navy Admiral Just Schooled Ted Cruz on Climate Change

December 14th 2015

By:
Alex Mierjeski

As world leaders from 189 nations moved closer to the historic deal they signed on Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz was hosting a hearing on climate change called "Data or Dogma," which sought to examine funding, objectivity, and the "ways in which political pressure can suppress opposing viewpoints in the field of climate science."

At the hearing, Cruz displayed satellite data beginning in 1998 and showing, he said, "no significant global warming for the past 18 years." But when he put this "pause in global temperatures" theory to Retired Rear Admiral David Titley, a Penn State meteorology professor and former Navy oceanographer, Titley proceeded to debunk the presidential candidate's data.

Related: The West Coast Is Getting Its First Taste of El Nino. And It's Not Good.

Titley, who wrote about the Paris accord and Cruz's hearing in the Washington Post on Monday, explained that not only is satellite data an inferior gauge of global temperatures (compared to, say, thermometers on the Earth's surface), but the beginning point in Cruz's dataset inherently skewed things. Titley said that growth on any chart beginning in 1998 — an especially warm El Niño year — would look flat if the starting point sketches a huge spike.


​Titley then produced a graph of his own, using surface thermometer data, showing a much clearer — and frightening — upward trend over more than a century. "I'm just a simple sailor," remarked Titley, "but it's hard for me to see the pause on that chart. So I think the pause has kind of come and gone."

As Climate Desk notes, satellite global temperature data can be less reliable thanks to changes in orbit, altitude, and the settings of the device's microwave-sensing technology that reads oxygen molecules to gather data.

Related: Cher and Ted Cruz Trade Blows On Twitter

Watch the full exchange above, and check out Climate Desk's coverage of satellite temperature reading, and the last time Cruz discussed his theories on climate change, which one leading climate scientist described as "a load of claptrap... absolute bunk."

[h/t Mother Jones/Climate Desk]