Hardline Climate Deniers Dominate Candidate List For EPA's "Red Team-Blue Team" Exercise


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Science denial in action. disto89/Shutterstock

Earlier this year, Scott Pruitt – the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – suggested that he wanted to get two opposing teams to “debate” the science of climate change, ideally on television. One side would have climatologists on it; the other would have “skeptics” on it.

This “red team-blue team” approach was, as you’d expect, widely derided by scientists at the time, who saw it for what it was: a chance to publicize the views of climate deniers and to discredit the science of climate change. As has now been revealed by the Huffington Post, the deniers set to be on the “red team” are even more extreme and insidious than you might have imagined.


The list of candidates has largely been selected by The Heartland Institute, a right-wing think tank that once worked to deny the health risks of second-hand smoking. Today, it spends much of its time denying the science behind climate change, and is not coincidentally funded by big players in the fossil fuel industry, including Koch.

The list – written back in May – can be read in full here, but here are some of the lowlights:

1 – Edwin Berry, a self-funded climate researcher and Trump apologist who furiously denies climate change science. He often says things like “The claim that our CO2 causes dangerous climate change is a government hoax” and has compared climatology to ancient sacrifices.


2 – Joe Bastardi, a Fox News meteorologist who’s into shouting and refusing to accept that humans are altering the climate. He’s often heard saying that “the climate has always changed.”


3 – Larry Bell, a space architect and author of Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax.

4 – Tom Tanton, ex-Exxon-funded think tanker and someone who once claimed wind power “has been found to increase emissions of pollutants.”

5 – James Taylor, a legal analyst focusing on environmental issues who once said that climate change is a “mythical crisis,” and that NASA satellites “show absolutely no warming during the past 10 years.”

6 – Alan Carlin, an economist and ex-EPA employee who painted himself as a whistleblower while claiming that carbon dioxide isn’t warming the planet after all.


The list, which will likely be shortened by the time the final red team members are chosen, contains the names of just over 200 people that have either scientific or economic backgrounds. They may claim to be climate experts, but many have long espoused views that are considered to be thoroughly ludicrous.

It shouldn’t need to be said that this is not how science works, but hey, it’s 2017.

Scientific data, methodologies, and interpretations are discussed and debated between scientific experts, which results in an emergent truth. In the case of climate change, anywhere from 97 to 100 percent of scientific papers that have taken a position on the matter have concluded that it’s serious, and humans are causing it.

Sure, there are people on this list that have scientific backgrounds, but when they are handpicked by an institute that’s infamous for comparing climate change advocates to domestic terrorists and murderers, you know that they aren’t going to be on the side of objective science.


This red team-blue team exercise is nothing short of weaponized deception. It’s designed to wave paid-for climate deniers with real qualifications in front of the American public, hoping that they’ll buy into their rhetoric.

[H/T: Huffington Post]


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