Contact:
Jane Moore
jane@kansasdems.org

 

August 25, 2021

REPUBLICANS COORDINATED ATTACK ON SCIENCE, VACCINES

Topeka, KS – The Kansas Republicans’ misinformation campaign continues, now ranging from the COVID-19 vaccines to climate change and the truth.

It is no surprise that Senator Roger Marshall continues to spread blatant lies about the effectiveness of masks. In a recent attempt to mislead the public, he claimed that masks do not offer protection against COVID-19 and “probably even makes it worse.

Where Governor Laura Kelly leads with integrity and recommends that K-12 schools wear masks indoors, Attorney General Derek Schmidt leads with deceit and continues to pursue lawsuits against Laura Kelly’s guidance.

State Republican Senator Mike Thompson made climate change his target-of-lies for the week. In his seminar for an oil and gas convention, Thompson denied the severity of global warming, stated that “Green energy [which] doesn’t work,” and even compared climate science to Nazi propaganda.

“The combined misinformation campaign amongst Kansas Republicans can only be seen as a coordinated attack on science and public safety. The shameless lies being spread by Kansas Republican officials are not only irresponsible but are extremely dangerous,” said KDP Chairwoman Vicki Hiatt. “Kansans know the truth: masks work, climate change is real, and science can be trusted.”

Read more about the Kansas Republicans’ outrageous attacks on science below:

Topeka-Capital Journal: ‘It Probably even makes it worse’: Sen. Marshall questions effectiveness of masks. Experts push back. (August 19, 2021)

Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall has taken aim at face masks, especially at school, as COVID-19 surges across the state.

“I’m against mandates,” Marshall said last week during an interview with Newsmax. “I mean, really, no one has convinced me that masks really work, especially for people that have already had the vaccine or natural immunity. The masks might give a little bit of protection to my parents, but I just think that we’re kidding ourselves if we think kids wearing masks helps. It probably even makes it worse.”

The senator also said, “We know that no child in America has died from COVID unless they had a serious underlying condition.”

Marshall is an obstetrician and gynecologist but not a pediatrician nor an epidemiologist. Many pediatricians and epidemiologists don’t share his opinion on the efficacy of masks.

Children’s Mercy Hospital infectious disease specialist Jennifer Schuster said last week that masks work.

“Masks have really stopped in-school transmission of COVID-19,” Schuster said during a media briefing from The University of Kansas Health System. “We now have a year and a half worth of data where community were surging very high with COVID-19, but there was very little in-school transmission.

“And this was all because schools were implementing universal masking, physical distancing when able and hand hygiene.”

Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist at KU, on Friday cited a CDC morbidity and mortality report in May that showed masking and good ventilation in schools led to a nearly 40% reduction in the incidence rate of COVID-19.

“Research shows that schools where children and adults are consistently masked are effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19,” the American Academy of Pediatrics has said. “COVID remains a serious threat to children’s health. Universal masking can help make in-person learning safe this fall.”

The Kansas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has also recommended that school districts mandate masks for all students, staff and visitors.

“It is critical to use science and data to guide decisions about safely returning children to the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Kansas pediatrician group said in an Aug. 6 statement. “Research shows that if we follow good public health precautions there is very low spread of COVID-19 in schools.”

On July 30, Gov. Laura Kelly and the Kansas State Department of Education issued guidance that recommended schools implement universal masking. In an Aug. 2 news release, Marshall said he “blasts Gov. Kelly for kids’ mask mandate.”

“Data proves that mask mandates have little if any benefit, especially for school children,” Marshall said.

Looking at Roger Marshall’s sources:

Marshall’s statement on mask mandates linked to a Facebook post he made in March that contained a chart comparing COVID-19 case rates in states with mask mandates and states without such public health requirements.

The chart was created by First Trust Advisors for its March 5 COVID Tracker, using numbers since December from The Atlantic’s data reporting. Kansas was listed among the states with mask mandates, even though individual counties had the authority to opt out of the governor’s order.

“I would agree with the Senator’s conclusion that looking at the case trend in states with and without mask mandates, there was no statistically significant difference that would suggest masks played a difference,” said Bryce Gill, an economist at First Trust Advisors, in an email. “I think this is doubly so for school aged children who are at no statistical risk from COVID barring a significant preexisting condition like leukemia.”

The First Trust graph shows that case rates generally moved in the same direction at the same time among states with mandates and states without. However, states with mask mandates consistently had lower case rates between early January and early March.

“You point out the difference of maybe 1-5 cases per 100,000 over time, but what’s more important is the trend,” Gill said. “Cases rose and fell almost perfectly in unison in both mask and non-mask states. If masks were effective you would expect to see cases rise more slowly and fall more quickly in the mask states and that clearly didn’t happen.”

First Trust Advisors shared the dataset behind the graph, which showed the seven-day moving average of daily cases per 100,000 people was, on average, about 8.7% lower in states with mask mandates between Jan. 1 and March 2.

The average difference was about 3.8 fewer cases per 100,000 people per day in states with mask mandates. That equates to about 111 fewer cases per day in Kansas, or about 6,753 fewer cases during that time period.

Researchers at the University of Kansas Institute for Policy & Social Research have previously found that county-level mask mandates in Kansas during the fall and winter led to a 60% reduction in cases, a 60% reduction in hospitalizations and a 65% reduction in deaths.

Marshall claimed that masks could “make it worse” for children. His office cited a number of stories and scientific studies about potential risks related to wearing masks.

One was a Townhall story about Florida parents sending their kid’s masks to a lab that found “dangerous pathogens” on the masks. Experts have determined the lab analysis is misleading and lacks scientific credibility, according to AFP Fact Check.

“Elected officials at the state and local level must put politics aside, listen to science, and apply common sense when it comes to allowing parents decide what is best for their individual child when it comes to wearing a mask,” Marshall said in an emailed statement.

“Real world science shows us this virus disproportionately impacts senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions — not healthy children. These anti-science, inconsistent mask mandates by bureaucrats and politicians are putting children at risk of developmental delays as well as extensive health concerns.”
Topeka Capital Journal: Science a ‘weapon,’ Kansas Sen. Mike Thompson says. Climate change experts fact-check him. (August 23, 2021)

Do humans and carbon dioxide have no effect on climate change? Is science being weaponized, and are scientists comparable to Nazi propagandists?

That’s what one politician told the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association during its annual convention in Wichita last week. Sen. Mike Thompson, a Republican from Shawnee, is the chair of the Senate utilities committee. He is also a retired meteorologist.

The convention was held one week after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report was released. International officials referred to its findings as a “code red for humanity.”

Following are eight claims Thompson made during a seminar on “The Weaponization of Climate Science” — and what the climate experts at the University of Kansas contacted by The Topeka Capital-Journal had to say in response.

Do humans have ‘zero control’ over climate change?
Thompson: “Climate change has been happening since Earth has been around naturally, natural cycles, with stuff that’s more powerful than anything humans can do. And so it’s pure hubris to think that we should be spending billions of dollars — or now trillions of dollars — on mitigating climate change for something we have zero control over. And that includes trying to change our energy policy to fit that by going more green, with the renewables, which are not reliable.”

Kees Van der Veen(Department of Geography & Atmospheric Science professor): “As reported in the IPCC Report, we cannot explain recent temperature trends (i.e. over the last century or so) without taking into account the warming effect from anthropogenically produced carbon dioxide. That is, natural processes (volcanos, solar activity, etc) are not enough to explain the recent warming trend. See Figure TS.7 in the Technical Summary of the WGI IPCC Report that was just published.”

Does burning fossil fuels and increasing carbon dioxide affect climate change?

Thompson: “We can burn fossil fuels. We can put things into the environment that might change the environment, but it’s not going to change the climate. Reducing CO2 will have nothing to do with changing the climate on this planet. … CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but it’s a very tiny one. Water vapor does 95% of the stabilization of the temperature of this planet. … With carbon dioxide right now, we could double, triple quadruple the amount of CO2, it is not going to change the amount of warming on this planet or the temperature on this planet at all.”

Van der Veen: “Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide: any hydrocarbon source (fossil fuel) plus oxygen produces carbon dioxide and water, plus a lot of energy that we as society use. This is a straight-forward chemical reaction.

“It has been known since the 19th century that CO2 is a greenhouse gas (from laboratory experiments conducted at the time). No one denies this and every introductory textbook will tell you that conditions on Earth are favorable for life as we know it exactly because of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Compare conditions on Mars (no atmosphere to speak of) and Venus (atmosphere consisting of 96% carbon dioxide). If we look over the last million years, temperature variations corresponding with glacial cycles are linked with similar variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Water vapor is indeed a strong greenhouse gas that is likely to amplify warming brought about by carbon dioxide — this is called a positive feedback in the climate system.”

Does green and renewable energy work, and is it reliable?

Thompson: “The renewables, which are not reliable. Green energy, which doesn’t work. … And of course, it’s green, but it kills the birds. And, of course, it’s full of all sorts of toxic materials. And then during the course of a winter outbreak … look what provided the energy, it was oil and it was gas, and it was coal.”

Shannon O’Lear(director of the Environmental Studies Program and a Department of Geography & Atmospheric Science professor): “The fossil fuel based infrastructure on which much of the world relies would not be possible without considerable and sustained government subsidies and support of large corporations. What could it look like if renewable energy received the same amount of support and protection? Energy storage solutions mean that wind power can still be effective even if the wind is not blowing right now. Granted, expanding renewable energy will require a new business model, because key inputs such as wind and solar radiation are freely available, do not require international trade agreements, and do not generate waste that requires additional problem solving.”

Van der Veen: “One might want to expand one’s view to other countries, such as Germany and elsewhere in Europe where ‘green energy’ plays a greater role in society and increasingly replaces fossil fuels as energy source.”

Is becoming net carbon neutral by 2050 possible?

Thompson: “BP, Exxon Mobil, they all put the promos on Sunday morning, they have the windmills and everything. They say they’re gonna go net carbon neutral by 2050, or whatever year it is. It’s impossible to do, it’s virtually impossible to do. And a lot of it has to do with these ESG standards, because they are being forced into these ESG standards by financial institutions. … it’s a complete distortion of our economy.”

Van der Veen: “Where there is (political) will there is a way — who would have imagined the Internet only three decades ago or the phenomenal growth in online retail, spurred on by Amazon? — just to name one example of rapid societal changes occurring despite naysayers stating it could not be done.”

Does global warming exist, and can it kill people?

Thompson: “Science has just become a weapon. So we basically turned real science into we’re all gonna die in 12 years, OK. And unfortunately, this is the culmination of the dumbing down of America. People buy this stuff. They hear it on the news. They think global warming is real. We’re all gonna die.”

Van der Veen: “Strawman argument – no credible scientist will say that we are all going to die, let alone in 12 years! But one has only to look around to see impacts of warming already happening, be it more frequent storms, tornados and landslides brought on by wildfires or clear-day flooding in Miami.

“It would be wise for politicians and other officials to read the actual IPCC Reports — or at least the appropriately titled ‘Summary for Policy Makers.’ These Reports are a far cry from the sensationalist headlines or sound bites that Senator Thompson apparently attributes to science.”

Are mitigation strategies, such as carbon sequestration, a waste of money?

Thompson: “From the climate mitigation standpoint, there really, like I said, if you look, there really isn’t much we can do. We could spend money, but it would be fruitless. The climate is going to change on its own. … Bottom line is, there’s nothing we can do to change the climate. Nothing at all.

“CO2 sequestration sounds like the dumbest idea I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Van der Veen: “I agree that CO2 sequestration, or any other proposed geo-engineering ‘solution’ is not a real or permanent solution and mostly a waste of money (and energy!!)”

Would more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere be good for agriculture?
Thompson: “If you do some studies on carbon dioxide, plants thrive at high levels of CO2. … In fact, there was a Harvard study that showed plants are hardier, more drought resistant, produce more crops at about 1200 parts per million — three times what we have in the atmosphere right now. So it’s actually beneficial to have more CO2. And since we’ve seen higher levels of CO2, we’ve seen a greening of the planet. We’ve seen a lot more forestation we’ve seen a lot more green, which counteracts any potential warming that we have.”

O’Lear: “Although plants may grow larger leaves with increased levels of CO2, the nutrient quality in those plants becomes diluted and causes knock down effects throughout the foodchain. Research at Kansas State University has demonstrated this point and why it is a concern both for agriculture and for ecosystem resilience. For instance, lowering the nutritional value of biomass could lead to a decline in some species of grasshoppers only to contribute to swarms of other species of grasshoppers that could damage crops. Beyond grasshoppers, other species and types of animals could be negatively affected.”

 

KSHB: Kansas AG appeals Johnson County judge’s ruling on Senate Bill 40. (July 21, 2021)

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is appealing a ruling by a Johnson County judge that found Senate Bill 40 unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 40 allowed people to file grievances against cities, counties and local school boards if they didn’t agree with mask mandates or other restrictions in place.

It would then require a hearing within three days and a decision within 10 days.

If the city, county or local school boards refused to eliminate or change protocols, the people who filed the grievance could file a lawsuit.

If a lawsuit was filed, a court had three days to hold a hearing and 10 to issue a ruling.

“This Court’s decision is creating unnecessary and disruptive confusion about the validity of other provisions of SB 40 not at issue in this case and so presumably and should therefore be stayed until the Kansas Supreme Court can address these issues,” Schmidt said in the motion.

 

###


Paid for by the Kansas Democratic Party, Yolanda Taylor, Treasurer

Kansas Democratic Party
501 SE Jefferson St
Suite 30
Topeka, KS 66607
United States