Pruitt Right to Call for Climate Debate


by Tom Harris, Executive Director, ICSC, ©2017

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is Donald Trump’s nominee for EPA Administrator

(Feb. 3, 2017) — Democratic members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee boycotted the February 1 vote on President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency largely because of the nominee’s position on climate change. For example, Committee member Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) explained that he opposed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s candidacy because he “denies the sum of empirical science and the urgency to act on climate change.”

Considering the vast uncertainty in this field, arguably the most complex science ever tackled, Pruitt’s position is actually very ‘progressive.’ Rather that trying to restrict discussion about the underlying reasons for expensive climate change mitigation policies, now costing $1 billion a day worldwide, Pruitt has called for open debate about the issue. It is the Democrats and their activist allies who, reminiscent of the 13th-century Spanish Inquisition, are intent upon censoring what they regard as scientific heresy. They have apparently forgotten that real science is all about skepticism and constant re-examination of old theories.

Writing in the National Review in May 2016, Pruitt explained his position:

“Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. 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… Dissent is not a crime.”

The reason such a rational, balanced approach has come to be regarded by Democrats as extreme, and therefore unacceptable for an EPA administrator to hold, is that they assume that the science of climate change is ‘settled’ in favour of the position they hold dear. But they are mistaken. As demonstrated by thousands of peer-reviewed papers in leading science journals highlighted by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, there is a broad range of scientific opinion on this issue. Indeed, much of what we thought we knew about climate is now regarded as wrong or highly debatable.

Widespread misunderstandings about the actual state of climate change science is largely the fault of the United Nations, which often labels its science conclusions “unequivocal,” in other words, statements that cannot be wrong. For example, the first sentence in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report Synthesis Report starts, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations.”

As evidence for this position, they present empirical data. But scientists have always understood that observations are particular, contingent, and probable, so cannot be used to prove truth.

Although he supports the dangerous human-caused global warming hypothesis, Lehigh University philosophy professor Steven Goldman explained in a personal communication that the IPCC statement is flawed. It is “an attempt to persuade extra-logically,” said Goldman. “Strictly logically, no observations can lead to an ‘unequivocal’ interpretation.”

David Wojick, a Virginia-based Ph.D. in the logic and philosophy of science, disagrees with Goldman about the climatic impact of human activity but agrees that the IPCC has made a serious mistake. “Reasoning from evidence is inductive logic,” said Wojick. “As for unequivocal, that is never the case in inductive logic.”

The greatest misinformation in the global warming debate is that we currently know, or even can know, the future of a natural phenomenon as complicated as climate change. University of Western Ontario professor Dr. Chris Essex, an expert in climate models, lays it out clearly: “Climate is one of the most challenging open problems in modern science. Some knowledgeable scientists believe that the climate problem can never be solved.”

Yet Democrats often label scientists like Essex as ‘deniers’, implying that they are as misguided as those who deny the Holocaust. When it comes to climate change, tolerance of alternative perspectives, a much-vaunted hallmark of liberalism, vanishes. They should welcome, not condemn, questioning of the status quo. Science advances through fearless investigation, not frightened acquiescence to fashionable thinking.

At stake in the climate controversy are literally trillions of dollars, countless jobs, and, if politicians like Senator Cardin are right, the fate of the global environment. We need leaders in science, engineering, economics, and public policy to contribute to the debate without fear.

Yet, because the issue is riddled with censorship, illogic, defamation, and even death threats, many experts are afraid to comment publicly. Pruitt is right to try to change this. The stakes are too high to do anything less.


Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.


11 Responses to "Pruitt Right to Call for Climate Debate"

  1. Tom Harris   Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 10:23 AM

    I stopped reading David James’ latest smear against me when he wrote:

    “Mr. Harris far more concerned with politics than science. Mr. Harris conservative political agenda is not surprising. He is a long time advocate for deregulation of coal ”

    That is 100% fabrication. I am not even a consistent conservative, holding left wing and centrist views on many issues. And I have advocated for nuclear many times. And so on. Mr. James is simply making these things up.

  2. Dale   Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 10:19 AM

    Once again, David James who constantly trolls after Tom Harris from site to site, is attacking with his usual ad hominem rants. Several times previously Tom and others including myself have corrected David’s wild accusations, yet David continues with his broken-record personal attacks.
    David apparently feels that “his” total (un)scientific understanding of climate mechanisms, based on a few selected links to NASA and NOAA (those government-funded political institutions which are constantly changing and tampering with their data) is somehow a justification for his distorted views.
    He has yet to show a properly constructed scientific study or research paper proving his claims. The simple reason of course is that such a paper doesn’t exist. Therefore, his activity remains that of being an Internet troll and slinging ad hominem attacks at Tom Harris.
    David…grow up, get a life and learn some science. Try replacing your continuous ad hom attacks with scientific views backed up with actual research papers. Forget the links to political science sites and instead look at the actual scientific data.
    If writers, in this case Tom, state something incorrectly, scientifically attack the point, not the person.
    As it’s unlikely we’ll any science from you, you can have the last word in your ever ending personal attacks.
    Just remember, there hasn’t been a single scientific study proving catastrophic anthropogenic global warming nor a study proving that increasing CO2 levels can have any more than a minor effect on global warming. Also understand that any possible effect that carbon dioxide might have (on warming), has for the most part already occurred (because of its logarithmic nature).

  3. Sharon Rondeau   Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 8:30 AM

    Everyone has a right to his own opinion, and thank you for providing the links. At The Post & Email, we strive to present facts and/or opinion without attacking any specific individual. Disagreement within civil discourse is fine as long as it follows that guideline. Thank you.

  4. David Jame   Friday, February 3, 2017 at 10:42 PM


    Regarding climate science, Tom Harris is not credible.

    Mr. Harris far more concerned with politics than science. Mr. Harris conservative political agenda is not surprising. He is a long time advocate for deregulation of coal and according to Terry Dunleavy the founding chairman of ICSC, “…Donald Trump is now saying what groups like ours have been saying for years…”

    Mr. Harris pretends to be non-partisan. In the past election Mr. Harris repeatedly demanded political leaders follow Donald Trump on climate change.

    On Dec. 30, 2015, Trump told the crowd at a rally in Hilton Head, S.C., “Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”
    Tom Harris demanded again and again, “GOP must follow Trump’s lead (on climate change).”

    Tom Harris is wrong on science. Mr. Harris claims, “ the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website shows that the incidence of extreme weather state records has been decreasing in recent years.”

    According to NOAA, “For each of the past four years, this report has demonstrated that individual events, like temperature extremes, have often been shown to be linked to additional atmospheric greenhouse gases caused by human activities, while other extremes, such as those that are precipitation related, are less likely to be convincingly linked to human activities,”

    Mr. Harris claims it is a highly debatable hypothesis that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from human activities are causing catastrophic climate change.

    But according to NASA, “The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.”

    Tom Harris actually rejects all science as a source of knowledge. According to Tom Harris, “Scientific hypotheses, and even scientific theories, are not knowledge…”

  5. Sharon Rondeau   Friday, February 3, 2017 at 9:23 PM

    Please submit your article, then.

  6. David James   Friday, February 3, 2017 at 6:44 PM

    Climate Otter you are mistaken. I can back up everything I have written with documentation.

    Tom Harris is not above criticism. When he makes phony arguments he deserves to be call on them.

  7. ClimateOtter   Friday, February 3, 2017 at 5:48 PM

    David James is all about sour grapes. Certainly not about the truth. GO TOM!

  8. Jeffrey Harrison   Friday, February 3, 2017 at 4:37 PM

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Seems to me lots of our government agencies have self interest
    and self preservation, perhaps using climate change as justification for them to continued to exist.

    To me this climate change is to drain the USA and control of the New World Order. Those that defend it don’t live it. They can burn fuel from their jets, and live in huge homes, and have a huge
    foot print. The common man be dammed.

  9. Kicking Horse   Friday, February 3, 2017 at 2:40 PM

    Gathering the evidence (the temperature and CO2 concentrations of the past) is empirical science. Concluding that man is thus responsible for climate change is not empirical science. It goes against the scientific method and is therefore not science. Political science maybe.

  10. Sharon Rondeau   Friday, February 3, 2017 at 1:55 PM

    Would you be interested in submitting an opposing viewpoint on the subject?

  11. David James   Friday, February 3, 2017 at 1:14 PM

    Tom Harris claims to be a victim. He is not.

    Tom Harris is the only person who implies those who deny climate science are equivalent to those who deny the holocaust. Mr. Harris created a straw-man to knock down.

    Tom Harris rejects the climate science of NASA, NOAA, the National Academies of Sciences and the IPCC. Mr. Harris is an advocate for deregulation of coal and demanded many times that people support Donald Trump. Mr. Harris is far more concerned about his political agenda than science. In fact Tom Harris has claimed that science is not a source of knowledge.

    Mr. Harris’s argument is similar to the promoters of “intelligent design.” Mr. Harris wants to “teach the debate” in order to impugn and distract from the actual science.

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