Quantcast

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

Popular

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mike Mozart / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles.

Read More Show Less
Electric towers during golden hour. Pixabay / Pexels

An international group of scientists released a report today detailing how the fossil fuel industry actively campaigned to sow doubt about the climate crisis and what steps need to be taken to undo the damage, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less