Quantcast
Popular

3 Reasons Trump's EPA Pick Can't Be Trusted With Climate Science

By Scott Weaver

As a climate scientist I've been trained to base my conclusions strictly on scientific evidence and not on politics. This is why I find it so troubling that President Trump's pick for the top job at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) openly misrepresented scientific data during his confirmation process.

Here are three climate facts Scott Pruitt denied in his written testimony before the U.S. Senate—facts that an incoming EPA administrator simply cannot get wrong.

1. There is no "hiatus." The Earth is consistently getting warmer.

Pruitt wrote in response to a question from Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon that he was "aware of a diverse range of conclusions regarding global temperatures, including that over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming, which some scientists refer to as the 'hiatus.'"

In reality, his idea of a hiatus, and of a potential discrepancy between satellite and surface-based data, has been under intense objective scrutiny by the scientific community for some time—and the results are clear.

NOAA scientists recently published a peer reviewed article in the Journal Science that clearly shows the "hiatus" never existed. A follow-up study undertaken by a separate group of researchers as an objective check on the NOAA result confirmed that the global warming hiatus never happened.

The alleged satellite discrepancy has also been debunked. Stated plainly, raw satellite observations from space are not as accurate as those taken in the actual location, so these raw observations must be quality-controlled for scientific accuracy.

Bottom line is: All data today point in the same direction.

2. Urbanization has not created a fictitious warming trend.

But Pruitt continued to use the idea of a discrepancy between satellite-based and urban land-based data to build his narrative. He now attempted to blame it for the increasing temperature trend—which he just argued did not exist.

Pruitt wrote that he was "aware" that this so-called discrepancy "can be attributed to expansive urbanization within our country where artificial substances such as asphalt can interfere with the accuracy of land-based temperature stations."

Agencies charged with keeping the data, he alleged further, "do not accurately account for this type of interference." Well, he was wrong again.

The impact from urbanization and so-called "heat islands" has long shown to be minimal at best, especially when applied to the massive geographic expanse of the world relative to the lesser change in the geographic extent of cities.

Again, Pruitt ignored scientific facts.

3. Trend is clear: 2016 was the hottest year on record

Pruitt went on to quibble with the fact that 2016 was the warmest year ever recorded—by overemphasizing the role of negligible differences in how various scientific agencies around the world calculate the globally averaged temperature.

Except, the diversity of approaches is a scientific strength because it provides a balanced view of the data, much like one seeks a second opinion on a medical diagnosis. These minimal temperature differences don't matter in the end; the overall trend has remained the same over the last several decades.

Despite the trivial differences in methodology Pruitt emphasized, the three long-running analyses by NASA, NOAA, and Great Britain's UK Met Office all showed 2016 to be the hottest year on record, following the two previous record-setting years.

You can't quibble with that fact.Pruitt hopes to run the agency responsible for protecting the lives and health of Americans from environmental threats, a mission that includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. And as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, the EPA has the authority to address greenhouse gases.

This is why the man chosen to lead this agency needs to manage science responsibly so it can do its job. That means listening to scientists and accepting facts, plain and simple.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals
Pexels

Glyphosate Could Be Factor in Bee Decline, Study Warns

Another study has cast doubt on the environmental safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the most frequently used weedkiller in the world.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Jim Peaco / National Park Service

Yellowstone Area Grizzlies Regain Endangered Species Protection

A federal judge restored endangered species protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park on Monday, The Huffington Post reported, putting a permanent halt to plans by Wyoming and Idaho to launch the first Yellowstone-area grizzly hunt in four decades.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
An activist adjusts his hat while protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline during the Native Nations Rise protest on March 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. The KXL has been at the center of a contentious fight for a decade. Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

KXL Pipeline Developer Plans to Start Construction in 2019

Construction on the long-delayed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline is planned for 2019, developer TransCanada said Monday.

"Keystone XL has undergone years of extensive environmental review by federal and state regulators," TransCanada spokesman Matthew John told Omaha World-Herald. "All of these evaluations show that Keystone XL can be built safely and with minimal impact to the environment."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Artist Ricky Lee Gordon paints his mural, Wings of Paradise, on a building in Long Beach, California. David McNew / Ricky Lee Gordo / Greenpeace

Wings of Paradise: Drawing Attention to Rainforest Destruction

By Alexander Navarro

For too long the story of Indonesian forests has been painted with the darkness of burning rainforests, disappearing species and displaced communities. Greedy palm oil companies, that only seem to be driven by the bottom line whatever the cost to humanity or biodiversity, have played a major role in this.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Science
The ICESat-2 will point lasers at Earth's ice sheets. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

NASA's New Space Laser to Measure Earth's Changing Ice

NASA will soon activate the "most advanced laser instrument of its kind" to study Earth's changing polar ice.

The incredibly precise Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) is the main feature of the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) that successfully launched into space from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 15.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The Atlantic wolffish is already at risk from oxygen depletion. Nilfanion, via Wikimedia Commons

Oxygen Loss in Canada Linked to Climate Change

By Tim Radford

Oceanographers have identified an act of slow suffocation, as oxygen loss grows near one of the world's richest fishing grounds, and are linking the change to human-triggered global warming.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Business
A Co-op grocery store location in Shoreditch, London. The Co-op Group / CC BY 2.0

Supermarket Becomes First in UK to Replace Single-Use Plastic Bags With Compostable Alternative

Since 2015, all large stores in England have been required by law to charge five pence for single-use plastic bags in an attempt to reduce plastic pollution.

Now, major UK supermarket chain the Co-op is taking that one step further by phasing out plastic bags entirely and replacing them with compostable alternatives, becoming the first supermarket in the UK to do so, The Guardian reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Tiger: Bernard DuPont (CC BY-SA 2.0); Wolf: John and Karen Hollingsworth /USFWS

Tigers and Wolves: The Reigning Cats and Dogs in Conservation?

By John R. Platt

Do the species most in need of conservation also receive the most scientific research?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!