GOP Rep.’s Incorrect Climate Change Claims Examined

The following post first appeared on

Rep. Lamar Smith made several incorrect claims in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece regarding connections between climate change and severe weather.

  • Smith wrote that a connection between worsening storms and climate change has been “widely debunked,” and that the United Nations doesn’t believe that warming is related to “more severe weather disasters.” Both claims are incorrect. There is some evidence linking climate change to worsening hurricanes, droughts and other disasters.
  • He mentioned an oft-repeated claim that there has been a “lack of global warming over the past 15 years.” Though the rate of warming has slowed, the world does indeed continue to warm, and cherry-picked data underlie the claims that warming has stopped.
  • Smith quoted an InterAcademy Council report as saying the U.N.’s climate reports had “significant shortcomings in each major step” of the U.N.’s assessment process. That’s misleading. The report found that though there is certainly room for improvement, the U.N.’s process has been “successful overall.”

Climate and Weather Extremes

In an op-ed titled “The Climate-Change Religion,” Smith, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, criticized the Obama administration’s recent focus on combating climate change, writing that “the worsening-storms scenario has been widely debunked.” Smith mentioned this issue several times, including in this paragraph:

Smith, April 23: The White House’s Climate Assessment implies that extreme weather is getting worse due to human-caused climate change. The president regularly makes this unsubstantiated claim – most recently in his Earth Day proclamation, citing “more severe weather disasters.”

The relationship between increasing severe weather events and climate change is more complicated than Smith reports. We asked Smith’s office for clarification, and a spokesman, Zachary Kurz, sent us a number of links to and quotes from various documents from the <a target="_blank" —> Read More