It is becoming more difficult to label U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith as a climate change denier. Perhaps climate change apologist, or even opportunist, may be more appropriate.
Smith, a San Antonio Republican, has been an outspoken skeptic about human contributions to climate change for years from his perch as head of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. On Monday, he offered another explanation, writing in an op-ed that higher carbon dioxide levels might actually be a good thing.
Smith’s attempts at undermining climate change science have included hosting panels of skeptics, issuing subpoenas to scientists and activists and even accusing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of falsifying data on climate trends.
In his latest endeavor, though, Smith writes that higher carbon levels “aid photosynthesis, which in turn contributes to increased plant growth.” He argues this can lead to a “greater volume of food production and better quality food.” These plants would also benefit from an increase in water efficiency, meaning crops can produce more from less, he writes.
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Smith seems to be basing these assertions on a recent NASA study that indicates there are possible adverse impacts on plants from extreme climate change.
The article does note that carbon dioxide may create these changes, but it’s possible Smith is missing a flip side to the debate – especially in regards to problems in his own backyard.
The 2011 Texas drought – which was the hottest and driest Texas summer on record until 2012 – led to approximately $8.7 billion in agricultural losses. That summer, a wildfire erupted in Bastrop County that leveled 1,691 homes. And nearby, in Galveston County, residents can expect heartier storms and hurricanes because of rising sea levels, which are projected to double by 2100.
But fresh off his hush-hush trip to the Arctic, Smith is back to pushing his agenda, which also happens to coincide with that of the oil and gas industry. Since 1989, Smith has received more than $700,000 in campaign contributions from oil and gas. That’s a fact no one can argue.