The deniersphere’s dream that the Trump Administration will dismantle climate science remains alive, Scott Waldman reported at E&E yesterday. But (thankfully) it’s been whittled down to a shadow of its former self.
What started in 2017 as a pitch for a full-throated Deniers vs Alarmists debate of climate science (albeit a rehash of the debate), potentially even broadcast on TV, was watered down to organizing comments on the Endangerment finding in 2018. Then in early 2019, it was reimagined with an executive order and national security flair, before now, finally, being envisioned as “a series of white papers from both sides, essentially establishing a formal record of climate contrarianism,” per Waldman.
One source told Waldman that such a set of papers would serve as a “correction” to the National Climate Assessment. This itself is an admission of deniers’ scientific failure and unseriousness given that they could have submitted comments to the NCA as part of the extensive public peer-review process it already went through.
This can be thought of as the “Oh, you didn’t do your homework? Well go ahead and do it now and as long as you turn it in by the end of the day it’ll count” approach used by oh-so-many frazzled teachers dealing with the spoiled children of annoying parents.
So while this would still give deniers the political win they always wanted, which is to be able to say the government is questioning climate science, it wouldn’t give them the public spectacle of a live debate.
But apparently this isn’t the only idea floating around, as some are still committed to having a debate. The problem, Waldman reports, is that “mainstream scientists are unlikely to participate.” The administration is considering forcing NOAA or NASA experts to get involved, but they have so far proven hesitant, apparently. (While we haven’t gotten our hands on any actual correspondence, odds are their responses to such a request look a lot like what we joked about back in 2017.)
Then there’s the idea to have the National Academies of Science (NAS) “review and respond to the work of the team,” which would provide a spectacular scientific smackdown.
Because having the scholars at NAS take a run at denial “science” would be like if William Jennings Bryant’s infamous prosecutorial role in the Scopes Monkey trial had been played by an actual monkey.
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