EPA nominee offers refined view of the climate change issue

Jan. 30, 2017
Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt forced the news media to report what they've ignored for too long-and still they missed the point.

Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt forced the news media to report what they've ignored for too long-and still they missed the point.

"The climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner," the nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency said during his Jan. 18 confirmation hearing.

"It is the ability to measure it and the extent of that impact and what to do about it that is subject to continued debate and dialog."

That definition of the issue seldom appears in the general news.

Yet Pruitt's two simple sentences, before the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, express what should be the focus of debate about climate change.

The media persistently assert that climate change is warming the planet dangerously, that human activity accounts for most of the effect, and that the use of fossil energy therefore must be curtailed.

They call this "established" or "settled" science, the product of "scientific consensus."

And they dismiss dissenters as loony or corrupted by the fossil-energy industry.

As usually reported, therefore, the climate-change story is simplistic and wrong.

It's certainly possible to find a scientist-even groups of them-willing to defend climate alarmism with unwavering certitude.

By nature, scientists are fiercely allegiant to their opinions about how the world works.

Scientists fiercely allegiant to scary predictions about dangerous warming get the most press.

But it's also possible to find scientists-even groups of them-who fervently question the extent of humanity's role in climate change, the severity of the problem, and the wisdom of radical response.

Obviously, Pruitt has encountered their views-although probably not in the nightly news.

Do the media understand how thoroughly his restatement of the climate-change issue rebukes their prejudgment?

Probably not. Coverage of the hearing focused on Pruitt's departure from President Donald Trump's wild campaign claim that climate change amounts to a hoax.

Pruitt's largely subordinated attempt to refine discussion was far more important.

He should be EPA administrator.

(From the subscription area of www.ogj.com, posted Jan. 20, 2017; author's e-mail: [email protected])

About the Author

Bob Tippee | Editor

Bob Tippee has been chief editor of Oil & Gas Journal since January 1999 and a member of the Journal staff since October 1977. Before joining the magazine, he worked as a reporter at the Tulsa World and served for four years as an officer in the US Air Force. A native of St. Louis, he holds a degree in journalism from the University of Tulsa.