Guest post by David Middleton
Environmentalists have put out a new ad campaign attacking President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for “encouraging debate” among scientists about the “degree and extent” of global warming.
“He believes debate should be encouraged about the truth of climate science,” says a recent ad attacking Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt funded by the political arm of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress,” Pruitt and Strange wrote.
Apparently, encouraging scientific debate is not something environmentalists want when it comes to climate science.
EDF, an environmental group, goes on to claim “applying Pruitt’s radical views of federalism to the EPA would gut the agency’s long-standing bipartisan mandate to ensure basic protections for clean air and clean water nationwide.”
EDF says they’ve never opposed a candidate for EPA, but says Pruitt is “so dangerous” they felt compelled to publicly oppose him.
Democrats have labeled Pruitt a “climate denier” who will do the bidding of “Big Oil,” and some are plotting to, at the very least, make a public spectacle out of his confirmation hearings.
“The EPA is in charge of clean air for America. We must not have a professional climate denier in charge. This is an emergency,” Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz recently tweeted.
Talk about chutzpah!!!
“He believes debate should be encouraged about the truth of climate science…”
In 40 years (counting college) as a geoscientist, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase, “the truth of geology.” Science without debate isn’t science. Science with sacrosanct truths to be protected from debate is religion. In geology, debate is always encouraged. Most geoscientists are taught to embrace Chamberlin’s Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses. The prevailing theory about the formation of granite as an intrusive igneous rock doesn’t require protection from the granitization theory that granite can form as a metamorphic rock.
Based on the two recent surveys of the American Meteorological Society (Maibach et al., 2012 and 2016), it appears to me that atmospheric scientists are also open to debate…
The 2012 survey found that 52% of survey respondents thought that humans were the primary drivers of global warming over the previous 150 years, a bare majority. The 2016 survey focused on the most recent 50 years and it only found a 67% majority that humans were the primary drivers of climate change over the most recent 50 years. While a solid majority, it is far short of a “consensus.” More revealing was the widespread disagreement about whether or not recent climate changes have been beneficial or harmful and the degree to which future climate changes can be averted…
Based on Maibach et al., 2012 and 2016, it appears to me that a great deal of debate “about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind” remains to be had.
What could possibly be motivating the EDF and other environmental activist groups to try to stifle this debate? [Yes… This is a rhetorical question.]
 Maibach E, Stenhouse N, Cobb S, Ban R, Bleistein A, et al. (2012) American Meteorological Society Member Survey on Global Warming: Preliminary Findings. Fairfax, VA: Center for Climate Change Communication.
 Maibach, E., Perkins, D., Francis, Z., Myers, T., Englbom, A., et al. (2016) A 2016 National Survey of American Meteorological Society Member Views on Climate Change: Initial Findings. George Mason University, Fairfax, VA: Center for Climate Change Communication.
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