For pro-free-marketers, the big bright spot of the Trump administration is the hatchet he’s taking to the Environmental Protection Agency: doing things like packing the agency with global warming skeptics and rolling back absurd new automobile mileage mandates.
The man in charge of this is new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who up to now has been cautious about saying anything that would express his skepticism that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing global warming.
Except now he’s done it. In a CNBC interview, the host asked, “Do you believe that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate?” Pruitt answered: “No, I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet. We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”
This was met with howls of outrage and derision at such an assault on established science. But it might not surprise you to hear—because this is becoming something of a theme these days—that Pruitt is absolutely right, and it’s the media commentators who don’t understand the scientific issues.
Separate Data from Interpretation, Please
NPR, for example, accused Pruitt of questioning “basic facts about climate change.” But the problem with global warming alarmists getting on their science high horse is that they don’t really know the science all that well, or how to talk about it.
For example, NPR goes on to say: “The view that CO2 is a major heat-trapping gas is supported by reams of data, including data collected by government agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Er, which data would that be? Carbon dioxide is certainly known to be a greenhouse gas, but nobody needed NASA or NOAA to tell them that. (More on this in a moment.) Presumably NPR thinks there is data which shows that carbon dioxide is primarily responsible for recent increases in global temperatures. But “data” can’t show that. Any assertion of cause and effect in a complex system like the climate, where there are hundreds of competing variables, is someone’s interpretation of the data.