Brazil's Former Sports Minister is Moved to Science Post Despite Rejection of Global Warming Science

The New York Times - http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com
07 de Jan de 2015

Brazil's Former Sports Minister is Moved to Science Post Despite Rejection of Global Warming Science

By Andrew C. Revkin

January 7, 2015 5:47 pm January 7, 2015 5:47 pm

The Facebook page of Aldo Rebelo, Brazil's former minister of sports, who was appointed minister of science, technology and innovation despite his rejection of the science pointing to human-caused climate change.
The Facebook page of Aldo Rebelo, Brazil's former minister of sports, who was appointed minister of science, technology and innovation despite his rejection of the science pointing to human-caused climate change.Credit

Updated, Jan. 8, 6:31 a.m. | For the president in any democracy, compromises are often necessary in assembling a cabinet that satisfies a range of constituencies. But even with that in mind, it's really hard to understand how President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, who has repeatedly pressed for strong global action to curb climate change, could possibly justify her choice of Aldo Rebelo as her new minister of science, technology and innovation.

It's unfortunate that Rebelo has no scientific background and probably didn't absorb many relevant insights in the position he held since 2011 - minister of sports. But that's a minor issue compared to his attacks on even the most basic, established aspects of science pointing to human-driven global warming.

To get a feel for his views, which put the longtime Communist Party legislator in line with Tea Party talking points, start with the blistering critique of the appointment by Steve Schwartzman of the Environmental Defense Fund, who's been immersed in Brazilian environmental and forest science and politics for decades.

Schwartzman begins with Rebelo's lead role in drafting controversial revisions to the country's Forest Code, then focuses on this excerpt from an open letter Rebelo sent last July to Márcio Santilli, an environmentalist and former congressman, responding to Santilli's criticisms (the translation is by Schwartzman):

The positivist scientism that you call natural science and contrast with my devotion to dialectical materialism is not magical enough to convert me to the article of faith that is the theory of global warming, which is incompatible with current knowledge.

Science is not an oracle. In fact, there is no scientific proof of the projections of global warming, much less that it is occurring because of human action and not because of natural phenomena. It is a construct based on computer simulations.

In fact, my tradition links me to a line of scientific thought that prioritizes doubt over certainty and does not silence a question at the first response. Parallel to the extraordinary advances and conquests that Science has bequeathed to the progress of Humanity, come innumerable errors, frauds or manipulations always spun in the service of countries that finance certain research projects or projections.

I am curious to know whether those who today accept the theory of global warming and its alleged anthropogenic causes as unshakeable dogma, are the same ones who some years ago announced, with identical divine certainty, global cooling.

Please read the rest here. The translation is by Schwartzman but you can check it against the original.

[Insert, Jan. 8, 6:30 a.m.| It's no wonder that Santilli reacted this way to his appointment in an interview with Simon Romero for an article in The Times:

"At first I thought this was some sort of mistake, that he was playing musical chairs and landed in the wrong chair.... Unfortunately, there he is, overseeing Brazilian science at a very delicate juncture when Brazil's carbon emissions are on the rise again."]

Just to top things off, Rousseff made another cabinet choice that bodes poorly for the Amazon rain forest and its indigenous inhabitants. Here's Schwartzman's summary:

The new Minister of Agriculture, Katia Abreu, was the president of the National Confederation of Agriculture (the national association of large and middle-size landowners and ranchers). As senator, she led the Congress's powerful anti-environmental, anti-indigenous "bancada ruralista", or large landowners', caucus and earned the title among environmentalists of "chainsaw queen."

At Bloomberg View, Mac Margolis, who was previously a Latin America correspondent for Newsweek and wrote a fine book on the Amazon frontier 22 years ago, seconded Schwartzman's concerns and added this about his stance on his other new portfolio - technology:

Denying climate change is not Rebelo's only contribution to policy obscurantism. As a lawmaker in 1994, just as Brazil was beginning to modernize public service, he demanded that government forsake "labor-saving innovative technology," such as computers and automatic elevators. The proposal was quietly shelved in committee, on fear that it would create, among other monstrosities, "a frightening bureaucracy." He had more success in later stopping self-service fuel pumps at Brazilian filling stations, so sparing an underpaid army in overalls.

Then, in 2001, he sought to prohibit the use of English-language terms from public parlance, so banishing "imperialist" terms like "drive-in" and "software."

Undaunted, Rebelo is back, exotic as ever, this time with a fancy job upgrade. How he fits Rousseff's mission to make Brazil a modern and environmentally-sound nation is an open question. But she could start with cabinet change. [Read the rest.]

It'll be interesting to see whether Rebelo accompanies Rousseff to the next big round of climate treaty talks in Paris in December.

For another view of the appointments and these criticisms, read Thomas Lifson at the American Thinker: "Warmists apoplectic as Brazil president names climate skeptic as science minister."


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