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Congressman Holt, thank you so much for stopping by.
REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: Ezra, good to be with you.
KLEIN: Republicans used to support stronger regulation of greenhouse
gases. The idea of cap and trade actually from market that would cut
emissions was a Republican idea in the first place. It was in John
McCain`s 2008 platform and he was also the first to introduce it in the
Senate. Now, the favorite term for it in Republican circles is cap and
When even Republican policies become an anathema to conservatives, how
do you forge a compromise in Congress?
HOLT: Well, when you change the very language, as you`re describing
now, it leads to really disinformation and challenges the whole basis for
debate. And clearly, that`s what they`re trying to do.
These are powerful interests, energy interests that don`t want the
facts about climate change to be out there. They don`t even want the term
climate change to be out there. There`s no question the sea level is
Even if there`s no melting of glaciers because of the heating, just
the heating of the ocean, which is happening, has happened, will happen,
means that in the lifetime of today`s kids, it`s going to be a foot or two
higher. If there`s significant melting on land of glaciers and ice caps,
it could be much more than that.
So, changing the language is just the special interests` way of trying
to change the argument and overpower the opposition. It`s what happened
with tobacco. The tobacco companies tried to change the language about
They set up a tobacco institute as if it was somehow based in science,
and all it was, was marketing. You know, four out of five doctors smoke
our cigarettes or recommend our cigarettes. You know, crap like that. And
it was clearly that kind of the disinformation that the tobacco industry
used to sow doubt about the science.
KLEIN: The House where you serve, it recently --
HOLT: And you know, it`s --
HOLT: I was just going to say, you know, Rachael Carson and the
pesticide interests and on and on.
KLEIN: The House recently voted against National Science Foundation
funding for political science. In a vote that kind of disturbed me, it was
an amendment from Representative Jeff Flake and it didn`t take away the
funding, it just said the National Science Foundation could no longer use
its funding to fund political science, in part, Representative Flake said,
because the funding was used to support studies on climate change.
That kind of, sort of subtle and specific interference with scientific
judgments worried me as a precedent. Am I right to be concerned, or is
this not a big deal?
HOLT: You`re absolutely right to be concerned. What we were talking
about with climate change and with tobacco, and with big developers against
the Endangered Species Act and big agribusiness against nutrition science -
- that`s the old-style, long-lasting confrontation science, trying to
overpower their science.
What you`re talking about a more insidious problem that strikes at the
very method of science. And, you know, science is really valuable. It is
really valuable for moving knowledge toward more factual understanding.
And this is not of interest just to people who wear lab coats or
techno geeks. Anybody who cares about the air their children breathe or
the water they drink or the nutrition in our lives or the education of
children with special needs, anybody who would want policy based on as much
as possible on fact, on evidence, should care about this.
And if you start messing with the peer review process, as has happened
with education before Congress, if you start messing with what kinds of
research the National Science Foundation can do, what you`re referring to
and you wrote a very good piece about it, a month or so ago, is if
politicians direct the National Science Foundation about what is the value
of the research or what kind of research can be done, it strikes at the
very heart of the method that leads us to this better understanding.
KLEIN: We`ll have to the leave it there, but I would like to talk
about this another day. Rush Holt, the Democratic congressman from New
Jersey and physicist and scientist, we`re grateful for your time tonight.
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