EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Wants Scientists To Debate Climate Deniers Live On TV


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Scott Pruitt, seen here giving a talk at a conference in Texas earlier this year. F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not what it used to be. Instead of actually protecting the environment, it’s now being headed by Scott Pruitt, a climate-denying attorney general that was instrumental in convincing the President to take the country out of the Paris agreement. Scientists there are being bullied, censored, and dismissed with reckless abandon.

The worst thing that Pruitt has done during his time at the helm, however, is to suggest that the basic science of climate change should be debated by a committee composed of two teams: one of actual credible climatologists and another of ardent climate skeptics.


This is indubitably a terrible idea, as people have been pointing out on twitter.


But nevertheless, Pruitt is immune to such logic. Doubling-down on this “red team-blue team” approach, he now plans to televise it to the nation.

“There are lots of questions that have not been asked and answered (about climate change),” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt explained in an interview with Reuters on Monday. “Who better to do that than a group of scientists... getting together and having a robust discussion for all the world to see.”

When asked if he thought it should be broadcast on live television, he answered in the affirmative, saying that “the American people would be very interested in consuming that. I think they deserve it.”


Let’s get something very clear here. Science is decided by constructive debate between scientists presenting the best data available. What Pruitt is trying to set up here is a way to discredit the 97 to 99 percent of scientists that agree the climate is changing, and we are changing it.

By splitting the panel between scientists and skeptics 50/50, he’s giving the impression that the science is not settled, and that there is still a massive degree of uncertainty within the scientific community. This is nothing less than a blatant attempt to discredit science and those supporting cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Imagine this happening to any other field of science. Imagine the best doctors, nurses, clinical practitioners, and biomedical researchers sitting on a committee that was shared equally by anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists. There’s a good reason this won’t happen – although lest we forget the President is, or at least appears to be, a vaccine skeptic himself.

How the debate between scientists and deniers should play out. LastWeekTonight via YouTube


Despite the fact that the majority of the public is scientifically literate and support the Paris agreement, the broadcasting of this “debate” would be a powerful way to sow seeds of distrust within the public. It would be a horrific act of defamation, an example of nothing less than pro-fossil fuel propaganda.

Pruitt’s EPA is not just a shadow of its former self. It’s rapidly becoming the enemy to science, reason, and the environment itself.


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