U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is launching a formal “back-and-forth critique” of settled climate science, engaging scientists in a “red team, blue team” format used by military strategists to identify vulnerabilities.
“Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing,” said EPA spokesperson Liz Bowman, in a ClimateWire report picked up by The Hill and other news sources. “A new, fresh, and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”
Pruitt, an avowed climate denier who launched multiple lawsuits against the EPA in his past role as Oklahoma attorney-general, previously told the Breitbart alt-news site that “what the American people deserve, I think, is a true, legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective, transparent discussion about CO2.”
“But actual climate scientists argue that ‘back-and-forth critique’ already exists in climate science,” ThinkProgress notes. “It’s called the peer review process.”
“The system they describe is precisely what scientific peer review is,” veteran Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress via email. “The only thing these folks don’t like is the conclusion that the scientific community (that is, the world’s scientists, literally) has arrived at — that climate change is real, human-caused, and a threat.”
Correspondent Natasha Geiling writes that Pruitt is looking for “little more than performative false balance”, given the overwhelming weight of evidence already in hand.
“They’re looking to use taxpayer funds to run a pro-fossil fuel industry disinformation campaign aimed at confusing the public and policy-makers over what is potentially the greatest threat we face as a civilization,” Mann wrote. “It is frankly un-American.”
While ClimateWire presented Pruitt’s decision to initiate the review as a done deal, the Washington Post reported Saturday that the White House is still debating the idea. “There are no formal plans within the administration to do anything about it at this time,” one unnamed official told the Post.
Another official said the intent is “to get other federal agencies involved in this exercise on the state of climate science” to examine “what we know, where there are holes, and what we actually don’t know.” Other agencies drawn into the exercise could include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and NASA.