WSJ: Climate-blind, soft-pedaling the predatory Pruitt

The Wall Street Journal is always chockfull of ironies and surprises. Just recently the WSJ’s Bret Stephens delivered the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA, a fiercely eloquent, well-received broadside pushing back against Trump’s attack on reality. Applause! 

One wishes that Mr. Stephens had applied this independence of thought and intellectual integrity to the subject of climate. No: Stephens is a fierce and retrograde climate denier, one of the worst of the ostrich crowd. As he once told Bill Maher, “consensus should not rule science.” Ah. So we should base extremely-high-stakes public policy on fringe opinions, then?

Then there was Kimberly Strassel’s interview with Scott Pruitt (paywall, I read it so you don’t have to), in which she laughably claims that he’s just gonna play it straight down the middle, yessir:

Republican presidents tend to nominate one of two types of administrator to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. The first is the centrist—think Christie Todd Whitman (2001-03)—who might be equally at home in a Democratic administration. The other is the fierce conservative—think Anne Gorsuch (1981-83)—who views the agency in a hostile light.

Scott Pruitt, whom the Senate confirmed Friday, 52-46, doesn’t fit either mold. His focus is neither expanding nor reducing regulation.

Except for killing the Clean Power Plan, one of our last and best hopes for averting an utter climate catastrophe in mere decades — if it takes that long.

Pruitt claims he won’t “prejudge the question” as to whether the EPA will regulate carbon dioxide:

,,, Does EPA even possess the tools, under the Clean Air Act, to address this? It’s a fair question to ask if we do, or whether there in fact needs to be a congressional response to the climate issue.

You may remember Massachusetts vs. EPA, the 2007 case that confirmed that yes indeed, Congress did require the EPA to address CO2. There is no mention of Massachusetts vs. EPA in the entire interview. Huh. Expect more lawsuits as he tries to ignore this hard-fought requirement.

He also promises an anti-intellectual chill, an ideological attack on EPA’s science. In doing so, he essentially uses the Trumpian intellectual black hole “A lot of people believe/don’t believe XYZ”:

… Mr. Pruitt plans to overhaul the agency’s procedure for producing scientific studies and cost-benefit analyses. “The citizens just don’t trust that EPA is honest with these numbers,” he says. “Let’s get real, objective data, not just do modeling. Let’s vigorously publish and peer-review science. Let’s do honest cost-benefit work. We need to restore the trust.”

That is some fancy word salad, loaded with innuendo. Whose trust? Who are you talking about? Dare you talk about “the citizens”, who overwhelmingly support regulations for clean air, clean water, clean energy, and climate action?

No. As we protested at Copley yesterday — Objective Reality Exists.

“Restoring trust” to Pruitt means handing over the agency to the interests of those that have paid for his career advancement. Just look at the names on this press release, menacingly entitled Job Creators, American Energy Producers, Farmers and Elected Officials Cheer Scott Pruitt’s Ascension to EPA Administrator — industry hacks and politicians, from fossil fuels to the pig-shit industry; not a single individual who has actually done environmental protection. And some of us thought that was the agency’s job.

It comes straight from the top: The Trump administration’s incessant lying, about matters large and small, is a slap in the face to every person who is honest, diligent, checks their facts, and tries to do a good and thorough job. That includes the professionals at the EPA who have dedicated their careers to protecting the public from environmental pollution and degradation. And in 46 years, they have been wildly, overwhelmingly successful at it, saving countless lives and trillions of dollars – so much so that doubtless we take their success for granted.

If there’s a silver lining — there isn’t really — it’s that Strassel and Pruitt still have to pay lip service to the critical role the EPA plays. But they make pretty damned clear that this is to be an anti-scientific, industry-captured agency, to be rearranged for the purpose of privatized-gain and socialized loss. We drink coal — they make money.

I beg a favor: If you show up to your representative’s town hall — buttonhole them on climate, as well as health care and refugees and treason and the lot. It’s a problem of long-term consequences that require immediate action.

And Mr. Pruitt — We’ll see you in court.

Recommended by jconway, fredrichlariccia, betsey.


6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Well, to be fair...

    …consensus shouldn’t always be taken as gospel either IFF there is legitimate contradictory evidence – just ask Copernicus.

    • But consensus is the guide

      There is no Supreme Scientists of the United States. There is either
      * consensus of a single explanation,
      * consensus that there are multiple incomplete but plausible explanations (some think A, some think B), or
      * no freaking idea.

      So when Copernicus finally publishes the Heliocentric model (which is able to predict the movement of celestial bodies without use of the equant by assuming the sun is at the center of the Solar System rather than the Earth) in 1543 under the title Dē revolutionibus orbium coelestium, it was slow to catch on. It took about 60 years, in fact. During that period, if you were to ask for a scientific consensus, you’d still have the sun revolving around the Earth. The model was inferior, but laypeople would have no reason or ability to believe Copernicus’ model over Ptolemaic astronomy. And when astronomers finally did accept Copernicus’ theory, they soon figured out that circular orbits and epicycles, as described by Copernicus, were bunk.

      It turned out that Copernicus’ ideas weren’t obvious — they required Galileo’s inertia and Isaac Newton’s universal law of gravitation to unify terrestrial and celestial mechanics. Copernicus had the right idea and his model was clearly simpler, but the scientific community didn’t yet have the necessary theorems to support Heliocentricity back in 1543.

      TL; DR scientific consensus isn’t taken as gospel, but consensus of the scientific community is the standard, always — because legitimate contradictory evidence dissolves consensus if and only if it is legitimate and contradictory.

    • What the wha...?

      Well, to be fair…(0+ / 1-) View voters

      …consensus shouldn’t always be taken as gospel either IFF there is legitimate contradictory evidence

      Just who, or what, is it that you attempt “to be fair” to… ?

      The scientific consensus is just this: “Scientists are united in the knowledge that NO legitimate contradictory evidence exists.” This is not one side saying “yea” and the other side saying “nay”… this is one side saying “we know” and the other side plugging up their ears and tightly scrunching their eyes and saying “lalalalala-neiderneeiderneeder–im-not-listening–neederneiderneeider-lalalalala” How is it ‘fair’ to legitimize that?

      Political power of corporate toadies and snake-oil salesmen to question reality is only comparable in the very short term to the power of science and scientists. As noted elsewhere: reality always wins, in the end. The question, for us, is if we’ll be there to see it when it happens.

  2. "Fair"

    Bro, these clowns are not freaking Copernicus. They’re trolls whose intent is to exhaust and delay, to “annihilate truth”, as Garry Kasparov says. I ran out of patience with that about 10 years ago.

  3. Wow!

    OK, between the downraters and those who replied y’all took me way more harshly/seriously than I intended. It should go without saying that I am not defending climate deniers and of course understand where the evidence leads on this particular issue. Maybe I should have ended my previous comment with a smiley emoticon or something, though OTOH the point is still valid as a general matter. Can we lighten up just a touch?

  4. Carbon Welfare

    Especially at a time when gods own free market is driving down the prices of alternatives considerably. And as Charley as been astutely arguing on Twitter-far more jobs to create in alternatives than to save in coal. And the quality of job is ultimately better too. The worst part is, removing the regulations is amounting to a subsidy for polluters.

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