“I’m aware of who Malcolm Roberts is, and the only surprise is that he is in fact a senator” so said the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies who has responded to a letter from the senator claiming that NASA has been manipulating climate figures for decades.
The scary thing is (a) that Roberts now has a Senate letterhead from which to spew forth his brand of conspiracy-theorist lunacy and (b) that this comes perilously close to looking like it comes from Australia as a nation. Now I know that NASA’s Dr Schmidt is aware that Roberts is a long time conspiracy theorist but nevertheless in his response he says:
We are certainly gratified by the attention Australia pays to our analysis, but in case you have remaining questions, I urge you to perform your own analyses.
You see what’s happening? We’re all being tarred with the same brush as Roberts abuses his platform and pushes his theories. Roberts is cloaking himself in a mantle of representing the country even though only 77 people knowingly voted for him. His letter says “In Australia, we have considerable concern about temperature adjustments made by NASA over many years…” Do we? Those gathering around Robert’s kitchen table might have considerable concern; but the rest of us can seem to get our heads around the fact that NASA has made necessary adjustments to deal with things like the observation station being moved to the top of a mountain in the 1930s.
There are, however, two interesting things about Malcolm Robert’s letter. The first is that he no longer refers to himself as “Malcolm-Ieuan Roberts, the living soul” as was previously his wont. He’s now Malcolm Roberts, “Australian Senator representing the State of Queensland”. It wasn’t that long ago that the living soul that appears to drive Malcolm Roberts was questioning the legitimacy of our entire Government and demanding that the Government refund the money they spent on things he didn’t agree with. Perhaps he twigged to the fact there’s no provision in the Constitution for the election of living souls.
The second interesting thing is that he copied in a few people. One is from the Iceland Meteorological Office around whose observations Roberts is building his conspiracy (and who responded by patiently explaining, presumably again, why Roberts was wrong). The others are Senator Ted Cruz; Congressman Lamar Smith whose persistent boondoggles and views have hamstrung NASA over the last few years; and Senator Jeff Sessions who has tried to have EPA stopped from regulating greenhouse gasses and, after Roberts’ letter, has just been appointed US Attorney-General by Donald Trump. I’m betting that Roberts’ letter on Senate notepaper will get a lot more attention from them than his old ones did when he was a simply living soul.
It’s no real surprise that Roberts’ was one of those drinking champagne outside Parliament House to celebrate Donald Trump’s victory. No more than it’s a surprise that Roberts remains entirely impenetrable to facts. The only real surprise about Roberts remains the surprise that he is in fact a senator.