Saturday, March 18, 2017

The New EPA Chief Has No Idea How Science Works

EPA chief Scott Pruitt willfully denies the science on
climate change because he's beholden to the fossil
 fuel industry, in my opinion and that of many others.
We shouldn't be at all surprised by this of course, but there was Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on CNBC's "Squawk Box" last week saying carbon dioxide is not responsible for climate change.

Sigh. 

Pruitt managed to bring most of the same tired climate denying tropes out in one paragraph:

"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to global warming that we see."

Actually, it's extremely easy to measure how much carbon dioxide is in the earth's atmosphere. It's about 405 parts per million, and rising. No matter what Scott Pruitt says.

And pretty much every scientists can tell you that an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase the heating capacity of the atmosphere.

Of course, Pruitt didn't win himself a lot of fans with his comments.

"Anyone who denies over a century's worth of established science and basic facts is unqualified to be the administrator of the EPA. Now more than ever, the Senate needs to stand up to Scott Pruitt and his dangerous views,"  said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, according to CNBC.

Good luck with that, though.

Republicans control the government, and they'll stick to the party line of denying climate change.

Since most people are not scientists, we get the following situation, as outlined in The Atlantic: 

"And yet, few minds are likely to change as a result of this debate. Many Americans will hear Pruitt's comments at the same time they hear the scientific community's response. They will assume that both groups mean well - the their new public servant isn't lying to them - and they will grasp for a false truth somewhere between the two statements. 

These Americas will come to assume there is some debate about climate change, some moderate position between those who say the world is warming and those who say otherwise. 

"These Americans will be intelligent, good-faith, savvy consumers of media - yet they will hve been successfully misled. The moderate position between the truth and a falsehold is still a falsehood."

Vox points out persuasively that the point here isn't "scienceplaining" anyway. The facts of climate change are besides the point with Pruitt's takeover at the EPA.

Vox offers this analogy:

"Imagine you're playing a basketball game. A member of the other team travels. The referee calls the travel, but the opposing player just shrugs and says, 'I don't care.'

He refused to surrender the ball and just keeps going. Then his team starts putting extra players on the court, fouling at will, and pelting your team with refuse. The referee continues to call violations, but the other team simply disregards him. They start appealing to their own referees, friends of theirs in the stands. 'Bob says there was no foul.'"

The basketball game Vox is talking about is climate science and the current political environment.

We all know the reality, the rules, as it were. But the people in authority are ignoring the referee - which is the well established climate science.

As Vox writer David Roberts says:

"Like the basketball team ignoring the referee, they have simplky chosen not to accept the results of climate science. Restating, underscoring, or even strengthening those scientific results won't solve that problem."

"Explaining the basic facts of climate science (again) is utterly futile if the intended audience rejects the authority of climate scientists and scientific institutions. We're eventually going to have to grapple with this crisis of authority."

In other words, it's long become totally besides the point to argue climate science. The argument must be purely political.

It's a matter of mobilizing anyone and everyone who believes the science of climate change is sound (it is!) so that the Powers That Be who are apologists for the fossil fuel industry will be booted out of office. Like Pruitt. Like Tillotson. Like Trump.

It starts at the local level and goes all the way up to the President.

Because things aren't going to get any better with the Trumpsters in charge. Just on Thursday, Trump's Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney said battling climate change is "a waste of your money."

Yeah, right.

I know there will be no major changes in the political makeup in this nation for two years or more. Scientists and activists have an increasing sense of urgency over climate change. Every minute that something is not done is wasted, in that line of thinking.

They're right. The work starts now. It won't be that noticeable at first. It never is.

But we'll get there. We have to.

















  
If someone chooses to simply reject those scientific institutions, procedures, and results, then piling on more facts is beside the point. It’s not about facts any more, it’s about the authority of the institutions.he right’s refusal to accept the authority of climate science is of a piece with its rejection of mainstream media, academia, and government, the shared institutions and norms that bind us together and contain our political disputes.
I have a longer post on that subject in the works (get excited). But for now, it’s enough to simply note that Pruitt’s comments point to something deeper and more corrosive than mere misinformation or misunderstanding. . Until then, more facts and periodic outbursts of outrage are futile.




  
"The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere," NASA and NOAA said in January.
Pruitt previously served as Oklahoma attorney general, where he rose to prominence as a leader in coordinated efforts by Republican attorneys general to challenge President Barack Obama's regulatory agenda. He sued or took part in legal actions against the EPA 14 times.
Democrats and environmentalists opposed Pruitt's nomination to lead the EPA due to his close relationship with fossil fuel companies and his history of casting doubt on climate change. Conservatives and the energy industry have cheered his efforts to push back on what they view as over-regulation under Obama.Pruitt maintained on Thursday it's possible to be pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-environment all at once.
"This idea that if you're pro-environment you're anti-energy is just something we've got to change so that attitude is something we're working on very much," he said.
Asked whether he would seek to roll back the EPA's 2009 determination that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases are a danger to public health, Pruitt suggested he would like to see Congress take up the issue.
"I think all those things need to be addressed as we go forward but not least of which is the response by the legislative branch with respect to the issue," he said.Pruitt also called the Paris Agreement, an international accord aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change, "a bad deal." He said it puts the United States on a different playing field than developing countries like China and India.

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