In the latest blow to widely accepted climate science, the Trump administration has decided to set up an advisory panel to investigate whether or not climate change will affect national security.
Not only is the committee set to be led by a man (William Happer) who once compared the "demonization of carbon dioxide" to the Holocaust, but, according to new reports, the White House has been putting out feelers to recruit the small minority of climate scientists who challenge the consensus that human activity is affecting the climate.
A leaked White House memo states the goal of the group is to carry out "adversarial scientific peer review" of climate science, suggesting something in the vein of ex-EPA chief Scott Pruitt's controversial proposal for a "red-team, blue-team" debate. An exercise that would have seen climatologists defend a science accepted by at least 97 percent of experts in the field against climate change skeptics on TV. Unlike formal advisory panels, the new working group will not be subjected to requirements that would compel them to meet in public, have representative membership, or respond to public record requests.
While the final line-up is yet to be determined, reports have disclosed the names of researchers who have been approached or discussed for the role. These include Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric physicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (now retired), who has described those who voice concerns about climate change as a "cult", and Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist and former undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy during the Obama years, and an advocate for the red-team, blue-team climate debate. Many of those being contacted are the same researchers invited by Republican politicians to underscore the uncertainty of climate science.
"President Trump has a wealth of experts at his disposal who are well-acquainted with the significant threat climate change poses to US national security," Brenda Ekwurzel, a senior climate scientist and director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said in a statement.
"Setting up an exercise headed by a climate denier is a misguided and wasteful attempt to get the answers he wants rather than ones based on scientific fact. This is yet another play from the Disinformation Playbook designed to further delay solutions and distract the public."
It may be weeks before the committee is officially launched via a Trump-signed executive order but Happer did lead a meeting last week to discuss the goals of the panel. According to a memo, representatives from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy were invited to take part.
As to why exactly the administration is keen to establish a committee to question its own findings on climate change, the White House has kept suspiciously quiet.
"Do you have an articulate, competent question?" Kellyanne Conway asked reporters on Friday, before ignoring questions concerning the meeting.
[H/T: E&E News]