The Congressional Genius of the Week Award

There is no such award, but if there was The Curmudgeon might nominate Mo Brooks, a Republican representing Alabama’s fifth congressional district.

The Washington Post tells the story about a congressional hearing on whether global warming is responsible for rising sea levels.

During a hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on Wednesday, Rep Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) pressed Philip Duffy, president of Woods Hole Research Center, to identify reasons that sea levels might be rising.

The Post continues.

Brooks asked Duffy what else might be contributing to that rise. Duffy pointed to ground subsidence, which is the sinking of the ground in places that can exacerbate the problem of rising sea levels. Cities like New Orleans are sinking quickly, even faster in many places than the seas are rising.

Brooks asked if any other factors were contributing to sea level rise.

“Those are all that I know of,” Duffy replied.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

“What about erosion!” Brooks exclaimed. “Every single year that we’re on Earth, you have huge tons of silt deposited by the Mississippi River, by the Amazon River, by the Nile, by every major river system — and for that matter, creek, all the way down to the smallest systems. And every time you have that soil or rock whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise. Because now you’ve got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up.”

It’s almost too easy to suggest that what Mo Brooks needs most is Mo Brains

The expert – and if you find yourself questioning whether this Duffy fellow is really such an expert, go here to see his seriously impressive credentials – was having none of it.

“I’m pretty sure that’s …” Duffy tried to interject.

Next it was Brooks who was having none of it.

“What about the white cliffs of Dover?” Brooks continued. “California, where you have the waves crashing against the shorelines and time and time again you have the cliffs crash into the sea. All of that displaces the water which forces it to rise, does it not?”

It does not, Duffy explained.

“I’m pretty sure that on human time scales,” Duffy replied, “those are minuscule effects.”

Duffy is correct, of course, as the Post explained, and to cause sea levels around the world to rise just 3.3 millimeters, it would take…

…a volume of earth equivalent to taking the top five inches of every one of the United States’ 9.1 million square miles of land area and using it to coat the bottom of the world’s oceans. 

Which obviously isn’t happening.

But Brooks wasn’t done:  he also was interested in sharing his expertise about Antarctica.  PolitiFact takes up the story.

Brooks: “Would it surprise you to know that if global temperatures rise, assuming for the moment that they do, that that actually increases the amount of ice that is collected on Antarctica?”

Duffy: “That’s not true, sir.”

Brooks: “I made a trip down to Antarctica and met with National Science Foundation scientists, and they all agreed with global warming, and they emphasize that you’re going to have an increase in the amount of ice in Antarctica because of global warming.…

“Do you understand that as temperatures rise, more moisture is contained in the atmosphere and then that moisture in Antarctica collects on land, and it takes hundreds and hundreds of years for that ice that is deposited on Antarctica to actually ever reach the shoreline where it touches the oceans where it can affect in some way sea level increases?”

Is it true, as Brooks said, that “you’re going to have an increase in the amount of ice in Antarctica because of global warming”?

PolitiFact explains:

… more than a dozen scientists told PolitiFact that while Brooks is correctly describing one part of the complicated interplay around Antarctic climate change, whatever ice gains materialize from this process are almost certain to be overwhelmed by melting ice that he’s overlooking.

 What Brooks said “is like talking about the money in your bank account by only looking at deposits and ignoring withdrawals,” said Gary T. Mitchum, a professor and associate dean at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science. “It’s just flawed. I sure wish I could get away with this at my bank.”

The congressman’s answers were worthy of this Brooks

When The Curmudgeon was a kid and he did something stupid – yes, it happened – his father would say to him that “If you had a brain, you’d be dangerous.”

Which makes Mo Brooks a VERY dangerous man – a very dangerous man who also is a member of the U.S. Congress and who frequently makes decisions that affect your life and those of your friends, family, and neighbors.

Scary, ain’t it?

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