Ted Cruz, the junior U.S. senator from Texas and first official contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, compared people who think that the climate is warming to "flat-Earthers" and described himself as a modern-day Galileo in an interview with the Texas Tribune.
"On the global warming alarmists, anyone who actually points to the evidence that disproves their apocalyptical claims, they don't engage in reasoned debate," Cruz said in an interview with reporter Jay Root on Tuesday. "What do they do? They scream, 'You're a denier.' They brand you a heretic. Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers. It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier."
Root noted that Cruz's disbelief that the planet is warming puts him out of step with younger voters. But Cruz dug in.
"I'm a big believer that we should follow the science, and follow the evidence. If you look at global warming alarmists, they don't like to look at the actual facts and the data. The satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years," said Cruz. "Now that's a real problem for the global warming alarmists. Because all those computer models on which this whole issue is based predicted significant warming, and yet the satellite data show it ain't happening."
While the argument that the satellite data does not show temperatures rising is a favorite among climate deniers, it represents a skewed view on what we know about temperatures conditions on Earth. Average global temperatures are still increasing, just not as quickly as they did in previous years, largely due to ocean cycles. And claiming that a pause disputes that warming is occurring ignores the preceding decades of temperature records that show them rapidly increasing when compared with historical averages.
Cruz also brought up another favorite denier talking point: that the world was worried about "global cooling" in the 1970s. "I read this morning a Newsweek article from the 1970s talking about global cooling. And it said the science is clear, it is overwhelming, we are in a major cooling period, and it's going to cause enormous problems worldwide. And the solution for all the advocates in the '70s of global cooling was massive government control of the energy sector, of our economy, and aspects of our lives," he said.
"Now, the data proved to be not backing up that theory. So then all the advocates of global cooling suddenly shifted to global warming, and they advocated it's warming, and the solution interestingly enough was the exact same solution -- government control of the energy sector and every aspect of our lives."
But while this argument is often repeated, it's also not quite true. A few articles in the popular press, like the Newsweek example he cited, did discuss the idea of global cooling. But it was far from a widely held or well-tested theory in the scientific community at the time. And the author of that 1975 Newsweek piece has come out and said that it should not be used to try to debunk today's climate science.
Nevertheless, Cruz argued that he's a champion of the science on the issue. "I am the child of two mathematicians and scientists," he said. "I believe in following evidence and data."