In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said that "global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers." (Texas Tribune)

OK, so Ted Cruz said something, and we went back and forth about whether or not we should address it because it's just baffling. But then we figured, yes, even the baffling things deserve some sort of response.

In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Cruz talked about climate change. Specifically, he said this, as transcribed by the Huffington Post's Kate Sheppard:

On the global warming alarmists, anyone who actually points to the evidence that disproves their apocalyptical claims, they don't engage in reasoned debate. 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.

And then he said:

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. 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.

And then he said:

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. ... 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.

There's not much Cruz got right here.

First, Cruz conflates the science of climate change with the politics of climate change. Scientists don't scream, "You're a denier." They point to the scientific evidence that human activity is leading to climate warming -- the evidence of which is overwhelming. (Here's the international version and the U.S. version.) There is no "evidence that disproves their apocalyptical claims," because if there were, scientists would abandon the theory. That's how science works.

Second, science works that way because scientists developed a system in which they created hypotheses and tested them. So it's silly to say that "accepted scientific wisdom" said the world was flat, because the assumption that the world was flat didn't derive from science. Instead, science challenged the conventional thinking, using a superior system for uncovering the truth.

Cruz's book. (AP Photo/Broadside)

Third, Galileo came along well after people knew the Earth was round. People had sailed around the world before he was born! His conflict with the church was that he said the Earth revolved around the Sun, instead of the opposite. (Actually, his conflict with the church was probably more about his views on transubstantiation, but that's a different topic.) Galileo challenged the orthodoxy based on evidence collected through science.

Fourth, the "warming hiatus" is not "a real problem" for climate scientists, except in the sense that it poses another question to be answered. In fact, scientists have a theory on why temperatures haven't increased as quickly as projected in recent years. (In short: They suspect that it has warmed -- but deep in the ocean.) What's more, scientists that studied the satellite data to which Cruz refers reject the idea that it somehow disproves the idea that human activity is making the world warmer.

Fifth. That Newsweek article. Oh man.

In 1975, Peter Gwynne wrote a brief for the magazine that suggested that some scientists believed the world was cooling. It was nine paragraphs long, quoting scientists who admitted that their projections were preliminary. To DailyClimate, Gwynne explained, "It was just an intriguing piece about what a certain group in a certain niche of climatology was thinking." He added, "Newsweek being Newsweek, we might have pushed the envelope a little bit more than I would have wanted."

But that article has fueled a cottage industry in science rejection. What Cruz is doing is treating as valid one magazine article from 40 years ago but rejecting as hopelessly flawed study after study showing that the world is warming.

The Galileos on climate change are, like Galileo, the scientists. The people pushing back on the science are, like Cruz, those who favor the status quo. Cruz's comments, from start to finish, are simply not correct.

Sen. Ted Cruz has declared his candidacy for president. The Texas Republican is known for his fiery oratorial style. Here's his take on immigration, Obamacare and, well, green eggs and ham. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)