New EPA Program Provides Climate Deniers With an Official Platform

D.R. Tucker points me to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s latest brainstorm for cooking up skepticism about climate change:

The program will use “red team, blue team” exercises to conduct an “at-length evaluation of U.S. climate science,” the official said, referring to a concept developed by the military to identify vulnerabilities in field operations.

“The administrator believes that we will be able to recruit the best in the fields which study climate and will organize a specific process in which these individuals … provide back-and-forth critique of specific new reports on climate science,” the source said.

“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”

Let me translate: this is a program designed to use taxpayer money to create reports on EPA letterhead that regurgitate all the usual claptrap of the climate deniers. In the interest of “fairness,” actual climate scientists will be allowed to write rebuttals, but no one will care about them since climate scientists have been writing that stuff forever. The real point is to get all the skeptic rubbish collected in one place and made available to the public with an official federal government imprimatur.

I suppose they can start off with this:

A new paper just published in the Journal of Climate is a stunning setback for the darling of cherry-picking for contrarian scientists and elected officials….Much of their position relies upon finding evidence that the current observations of warming are not great. That is, the Earth is not warming as fast as predictions.

To support this incorrect (and intellectually dishonest) position, contrarians have scoured the data for any evidence at all that suggests the Earth is not warming. They have skipped oceans…Earth’s surface temperature…ice loss…sea level rise, and in fact ignore everything except some select regions of the atmosphere. Their fallback position is that since a part of the atmosphere seems not to be warming very fast, this means the Earth isn’t warming or that climate models cannot be trusted.

Long story short, a new look at the atmospheric data shows that, in fact, it matches the surface data pretty well. If anything, the corrected satellite data suggests that the lower troposphere is slightly warmer than the surface:

Not to worry, though. The deniers will figure out some reason why this conclusion is wrong. Or else they’ll decide that atmospheric measurements aren’t important after all, and we should really be looking at the anomalies in tree ring measurements in 16th century Moldavia. And Scott Pruitt will be there to hand them a megaphone.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.