Pruitt Demands Peer-Review of 14-Man Peer-Reviewed Climate Change Report

Scott Pruitt is in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency and he denies that climate change is human caused. He is presently claiming that scientific reporting of climate change is “politicised” and recently took much criticism after announcing that he wanted to have a “red team, blue team” debate of climate science.

Indeed, The New York Times released a major (draft) climate report the other day.

Though the Times initially reported the paper was leaked, indicating it was sent to them by someone involved in the process of its creation, numerous scientists noted a draft version had been circulating online since the EPA first released it for public comment last year….

The publicization of the report is a clear middle finger to Trump, Pruitt and their plan to derail federal climate research and policy, and it ensures the public has an opportunity to review it before they get their big, grubby mitts all over it. But given Trump’s penchant for launching into a self-destructive rage every time an act of rebellion embarrasses him, it could also inspire the White House into an ill-advised act of revenge.

So, although it wasn’t released by the paper exactly in the manner reported (i.e. before Pruitt and the EPA could “cook the books”), the paper still feared that Pruitt could interfere with it before its final release. Their actions have put this whole thing firmly in the spotlight. And the spotlight should focus uncomfortably on Pruitt.

As the Times reported:

The authors note that thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate changes on land and in the air. “Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” they wrote.

The report was completed this year and is a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report, and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it.

One government scientist who worked on the report, Katharine Hayhoe, a professor of political science at Texas Tech University, called the conclusions among “the most comprehensive climate science reports” to be published. Another scientist involved in the process, who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity, said he and others were concerned that it would be suppressed….

The report concludes that even if humans immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the world would still feel at least an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit (0.30 degrees Celsius) of warming over this century compared with today. The projected actual rise, scientists say, will be as much as 2 degrees Celsius.

A small difference in global temperatures can make a big difference in the climate: The difference between a rise in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius and one of 2 degrees Celsius, for example, could mean longer heat waves, more intense rainstorms and the faster disintegration of coral reefs.

As Politico reports:

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said his staff will gauge the “accuracy” of a major federal science report that blames human activity for climate change — just days after researchers voiced their fears to The New York Times that the Trump administration would alter or suppress its findings.

“Frankly this report ought to be subjected to peer-reviewed, objective-reviewed methodology and evaluation,” Pruitt told a Texas radio show Thursday. “Science should not be politicized. Science is not something that should be just thrown about to try to dictate policy in Washington, D.C.”

The problem is, that report he is talking about is peer-reviewed.

Politico points out:

Scientists called his remarks troubling, especially because the report — part of a broader, congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment — has already undergone “rigorous” peer-review by a 14-person committee at the National Academies. The reviewing scientists backed the report’s conclusion from researchers at 13 federal agencies that humans are causing climate change by putting more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to a clear increase in global temperatures.

The report’s authors implemented the 132 pages of suggestions from the reviewers, and now the Trump administration has one last opportunity to review the document before publication. Agencies are supposed to sign off by Aug. 18 and send their comments to the authors.

“It’s a much more extensive process than a usual peer review, which does not typically come out as a paperback book,” said Bob Kopp, a lead report author and climate scientist at Rutgers University.

Kopp said he has “no idea” what to expect after hearing Pruitt’s comments. Staffers at EPA had already signed off on an earlier draft.

Eric Davidson, president of the American Geophysical Union, said the report has undergone “a very rigorous peer-review” and is “built on 50-some years of published research, and each of those papers went through its own peer review.”

He added that while fears of Pruitt suppressing the climate report might be more imagined than real right now, he didn’t rule it out.

“Certainly it’s a possibility, and if the administration doesn’t understand that it’s already peer-reviewed, that really is a sign of concern that he may not understand the process,” Davidson said. “If he’s continuing to question why CO2 is a big deal, that’s also very concerning, because CO2 is a big deal. … To see those quotes continue to come out is definitely disconcerting.”

This is really problematic, this seeming lack of understanding about the scientific process and how it works in practice. It comes on the back of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issuing a separate report confirming that 2016 was the warmest year on record, surpassing the records set in both the two previous years. Pruitt seems to want the EPA (his EPA) to have a hand in further reviewing the report. But the EPA has already been involved in reviewing that document. The (U.S. based) Global Change Research Program, which coordinates the agencies involved in the review, lists EPA’s Andrew Miller as being the person in charge, a longtime employee and an associate director of climate research. Go figure.

In other words, the EPA has already been heavily involved in the process of creating the report!

It still amazes me that this man, Scott Pruitt, can be the man in charge of the EPA.

Prtuitt

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