For the past eight years, the chairman of the Republican-led House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has been either a climate-change denier or someone who believes the slow-moving ecological disaster can be beneficial.
The most recent chairman, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, once had the audacity to tell Science magazine, “The jury is still out on the contribution of our activities to the change in the earth’s climate."
Smith, a loyal servant of the fossil-fuel industry, would later admit that climate change is happening, but that it's probably a good thing.
“The benefits of a changing climate are often ignored and under-researched,” Smith said. “Our climate is too complex and the consequences of misguided policies too harsh to discount the positive effects of carbon enrichment.”
Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson is favored to become the new chairman of the House Science Committee. She has a medical background and was the first registered nurse ever elected to Congress.
After the Democrats won the House of Representatives on November 6, Johnson laid out her priorities for the future of the committee. They include “defending the scientific enterprise from political and ideological attacks, and challenging misguided or harmful Administration actions.” Another priority will be to acknowledge the reality of climate change “and working to understand the ways we can mitigate it.”
Having an engaged House Science Committee will provide some important push-back against President Trump’s war against the planet.
With a pro-science Democrat in charge, the committee can get back to addressing serious policy issues that have been neglected. According to Neal Lane, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, those include: increasing the support for scientific research, restoring scientific advice in policy making, and creating initiatives to address problems facing scientists and universities around the U.S.