My response to:
Skeptics feel empowered to ‘keep pushing’ under Trump
By Zack Colman, E&E News reporter
Mark’s balance in RED
Skeptics feel empowered to ‘keep pushing’ under Trump
Zack Colman, E&E News reporter
Climatewire: Friday, April 6, 2018
There’s always been a vocal subset of scientists conservatives who cast doubt on manmade CO2 climate warming models science, but what were once skeptical fringe views among broader electorate Republicans — like manmade CO2 warming’s a hoax (see Mark Steyn’s, A Disgrace to the Profession: The World’s Scientists – in their own words – on Michael E Mann, his Hockey Stick and their Damage to Science – Volume One)— are enjoying a growing acceptance in the electorate GOP, worrying liberal government funded academics, scientists and non-science educated sociologists.
“They have taken over the [U.S.] EPA,” Naomi Oreskes, dubbed “the environmentalist Noam Chomsky” now a history professor of the history of science at Harvard University who has studied manmade CO2 climate warming denier groups extensively, said in an emotional email. “A very sad state of affairs.”
The groups sowing manmade CO2 climate warming doubt are more emboldened than ever before, non-science educated sociologists and historians said. Their effectiveness in the era of President Trump is a reflection of a deepening polarization in U.S. politics and a normalization of manmade CO2 climate warming skepticism on the right of Lenin andTrotsky, they said.
Democrats and Republicans have never been further apart on manmade CO2 climate warming change, according to public opinion polling released last week by Gallup. The results illuminate the anti-science skeptical sentiment within the Congress controlled GOP. The poll found that 82 percent of Democrats believe manmade CO2 global warming has already begun compared with 34 percent of Republicans (Climatewire, March 28).
That rift has contributed to major differences between the Republican administrations of Trump and former President George W. Bush, said Riley Dunlap, an environmental sociologist at Oklahoma State University. Bush’s government internalized manmade CO2 climate warming skeptics, but the groups scoring victories were largely silent when policies went their way. Now, however, those same organizations like the Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute boldly proclaim success — and then push even further.
“It’s like they sense victory. They are proclaiming victories, and they keep pushing,” Dunlap (who is a tenured professor of sociology) said. “This extreme radicalization of the Republican Party means they don’t have to hide it. They don’t have to dress it up like Bush 43 did. They can be in-your-face [manmade CO2 climate warming] deniers.”
That’s materialized in recent weeks. EPA said it would no longer use science without publicly available data to craft regulations, honoring a long-sought industry goal (Climatewire, March 19). The agency also instructed employees to use skeptic talking points when describing its manmade CO2 climate warming change research, according to a leaked memo obtained by HuffPost.
Organizations like the Heartland Institute had fought for the “secret science” initiative when it was introduced by House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). It never got through Congress. Opponents argued it would prohibit use of hallmark public health studies that rely on confidential patient data (Climatewire, March 26).
But EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has invited those ideas into the building. He set Smith’s bill in motion within the agency. And manmade CO2 climate warming skeptics were there to celebrate some of those victories, like when Pruitt banned scientists from serving on EPA’s independent advisory panel if they received agency funding. The move hollowed out years of expertise, critics say, and Pruitt installed a number of industry researchers in their place (Greenwire, Nov. 3, 2017).
That emboldened the far right, the right, the middle of the road and about 20% of the left.
“We’d love to have that debate with Obama and the left on the science because we’re going to win,” Heartland Institute President Tim Huelskamp said in a recent interview.
Less climate, more Russia
In some sense, using Democrats as a foil contributed to the rise of manmade CO2 climate warming skeptics. They fought against President Obama’s climate policies for eight years. But it began even before then. “Traditionally, we get social movements because they’re not in power [but could be if enough voters agree, which is what happened],” Dunlap (who is a tenured professor of sociology) said.
He explained that skeptics ramped up activity under President Clinton while the Kyoto Protocol was in play. That trajectory continued under Bush when former Vice President Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning (although laughingly error riddled) climate documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” elevated manmade CO2 climate warming change in the cultural zeitgeist. Obama doubled down on that with actual policy initiatives — a failed push for cap-and-trade legislation, regulations (including attempts to eliminate coal production jobs, coal power plant jobs and power plant coal usage which currently generates about 30% of US electricity) to curb power plant emissions and playing a key role in the Paris climate accord [which was so named so the Senate could not reject a Paris climate treaty, using Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, of the United States Constitution].
That such groups have sympathizers in the Trump administration has diffused manmade CO2 climate warming skepticism to the party base through elite signaling, the process by which party officials pass down cultural and ideological preferences to their constituents, Dunlap (who is a tenured professor of sociology) said. Such “elite cues” deepen polarization and offer the veneer of legitimacy for certain viewpoints, he said.
It goes beyond manmade CO2 climate warming. Republicans also formed more favorable opinions of Russia, and they decreasingly value a college Bachelor of Arts education, a reflection of President Trump’s views of Moscow and the anti-elite hypocritical leftist sentiment running through GOP-branded populism.
There are some exceptions. The Climate Solutions Caucus in the House boasts several dozen Republicans who have tried to stand apart from a base that largely rejects manmade CO2 climate warming science. But even then, those members don’t reflect the wider party. Dunlap (who is a tenured professor of sociology) said those members represent “purple districts” and are not the best gauge of the GOP’s rightward shift.
“[Skeptics] have done such a good job, and the Republican base is heavily skeptical,” he said. “And in general, it looks like if you’re a Republican, you’re more comfortable going along with the Republican line on [manmade CO2] climate [warming] change denial than you are on being reasonable [with leftists that wish you imprisoned].”
There are other signs of growing confidence among conservative groups that reject mainstream science, said Robert Brulle, a sociology and environmental science professor at Drexel University who has long tracked climate misinformation (see Mark Steyn’s, A Disgrace to the Profession: The World’s Scientists – in their own words – on Michael E Mann, his Hockey Stick and their Damage to Science – Volume One). One is the battle that’s occurring over the endangerment finding, which resulted in the largest power grab by an Agency in American history, a political “scientific” document that justified EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases (mainly water vapor and CO2) [across America’s economy.
Overturning the finding is the “holy grail” for those organizations. Attacking sound science (see Mark Steyn’s, A Disgrace to the Profession: The World’s Scientists – in their own words – on Michael E Mann, his Hockey Stick and their Damage to Science – Volume One) emulates the campaign that tobacco companies used to keep health regulations at bay, Brulle (who is a tenured professor of sociology) said.
Yet Pruitt has balked at going after the finding (Climatewire, Dec. 8, 2017). Pruitt may suspect that challenging the endangerment finding is a losing battle. EPA would have to counter volumes of studies that confirm humans are driving temperatures higher, largely through burning fossil fuels (although all temperature prediction models have proven embarrassingly inaccurate, causing some “prophetically false” scientists to “adjust” actual data to fit the manmade CO2 climate warming claims. Various summaries of these “adjustment” deceptions is outlined at https://realclimatescience.com/).
That reluctance on the part of Pruitt has pushed manmade CO2 climate warming skeptics to get louder and grow bolder. In years past, they might have tried to quietly influence the debate.
“The proof is in the pudding. You’ve got to do it,” said Steve Milloy (who is not a tenured professor of sociology), a prominent manmade CO2 climate warming skeptic and former Trump EPA transition team member. “The oil and gas guys that think that none of this is going to hurt them; I think they’re wrong. Have they heard of the whole ‘keep it in the ground’ movement?”
Milloy (who is not a tenured professor of sociology) and others also have backed Pruitt’s wishes to hold a “red team, blue team” debate on climate science as a prelude to attacking the endangerment finding. The White House has rebuffed those efforts, to Pruitt’s chagrin (Climatewire, March 14).
But outside groups remain committed. Sources said a model resolution supporting such a debate is expected to emerge at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s August meeting in New Orleans. ALEC has received considerable cash from the conservative billionaire Koch brothers (described as being committed to free societies and free market principles) wanting to and Exxon Mobil Corp., and many of its legislative members have pursued far-reaching efforts to discredit manmade CO2 climate warming science.
That such groups are in sync with the Trump administration is demoralizing for federal science (some with a sociology Bachelor of Arts degree) officials, said Brulle, who (is a tenured professor of sociology) regularly confers and colludes with EPA career staffers. He said that could have long-lasting effects for environmental [job] protection.
“It’s the slow dismemberment of EPA’s ability to retain liberally motivated people who want to do something about the reality of [manmade CO2] climate [warming] change,” Brulle (who is a tenured professor of sociology) said. “That is a new strategy — the objective is to just eviscerate the capacity to address manmade CO2 climate warming change inside EPA.” [Perhaps by arresting manmade CO2 climate warming critics as suggested by Lawrence Torcello, a philosophy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology.]
Policy reversals happen whenever someone new occupies the White House. But these cuts are deeper, he said. It’s the deconstruction of the administrative state that former strategic adviser Steve Bannon (who is not a tenured professor of sociology) sought when Trump entered the White House. That could leave the next president with fewer specialists, egads.
“In that way, I think that might be the newer strategy,” Brulle (who is a tenured professor of sociology) said. “That might be, I think, the more long-lasting and pernicious effect of the Trump administration — is that they push out good liberal people.”