The EPA administrator sat down with the Washington Examiner for an interview that included discussion of the proposed red team-blue team process that he says will open up a dialogue over the science behind global warming to see what is true and what is not.
“The red team-blue team is still being evaluated,” Pruitt said. “I think it’s very, very important. I think the American people deserve an open, honest dialogue about what do we know, what don’t we know with respect to CO2 and its impact.”
The Trump administration has been criticized in recent weeks by environmentalists and others for ignoring the effects of manmade global warming in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Although climate scientists are careful not to equate weather with global warming, they do say that the increased intensity of the storms is a result of a warmer planet.
But the Trump administration feels a need to test that. The red team/blue team process Pruitt wants to set up has been widely used by the military to test assumptions when it comes to an enemy’s wartime capability. A red team would challenge the assumptions of the blue team.
In the case of climate change, the red team would include scientists known for their skepticism of the science held by the majority of climate scientists who say human activity is causing the Earth’s temperature to rise and will have disastrous consequences unless abated.
The Heartland Institute, which actively challenges U.N. climate change findings that the broader scientific community accepts, has been tapped by the Trump administration to recommend who should staff the red team.
But Pruitt wouldn’t give a timeframe for when the exercise would begin. “As far as the timing, that has not been determined. But I think it’s important for the American people to be able to consume that, to see that, to participate in that,” he said.
“I want it to be an open process where we literally put scientists in the room, both red team and blue team scientists, and they critique one another and talk to one another and inform each other about about this very important issue,” Pruitt said.
A number of scientists have come out against using the red team approach. They fear the exercise will confuse the public by suggesting that the science on climate change is not settled, when it is.
Christine Todd Whitman, the former EPA chief under President George W. Bush, recently said Pruitt’s red team exercise is the wrong approach.
“The red-team approach makes sense in the military and in consumer and technology companies, where assumptions about enemy strategy or a competitor’s plans are rooted in unknowable human choices,” Whitman said in New York Times op-ed published Sept. 8.
“But the basic physics of the climate are well understood. Burning fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. There is no debate about that,” she said. “The link is as certain as the link between smoking and cancer.”