EPA tells employees to lie to you about climate science

EPA tells employees to lie about climate science

Rally opposing EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. Photo by Lorie Shaull via Flickr.

The EPA directed its employees last week to follow eight talking points about climate change in all their dealings with the public. These points follow the lies and distortions consistently spewed by climate science-denying administrator Scott Pruitt. The Associated Press contacted 15 climate scientists and published their reactions to several key statements in the memo:


“Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”


“To say that ‘human activity impacts our changing climate ‘in some manner’, is analogous to saying the Germans were involved in WW II ‘in some manner’,” David Titley, a professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University and retired U.S. Navy admiral, said in an email.

The EPA memo contradicts a November 2017 federal science report, signed off by 13 government agencies, including the EPA. That report says the world has warmed 1.2 degrees (0.65 Celsius) since 1950 and that the likely human contribution to this was between 92 and 123 percent.

It’s more than 100 percent on one end, because some natural forces — such as volcanoes and orbital cycle — are working to cool Earth, but are being overwhelmed by the effects of greenhouse gases, said study co-author Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech.

Hayhoe, one of the scientists who criticized the EPA memo, said the debate now is more about whether humanity’s role is merely close to 100 percent of the warming or if it is it much more and offsetting natural cooling.


“While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports regarding climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it.”


Two scientists, Jonathan Overpeck, dean of environmental science at the University of Michigan, and Michael Oppenheimer at Princeton University each described the idea of gaps in scientific knowledge as “flat out wrong.” Scientists said there are some details that aren’t completely known, but not gaps in knowledge about what is causing the problem and humanity’s role.

“Suggesting that there are gaps that remain in our understanding of the role of human activity and possible solutions to the problem is false equivalence at its finest,” said Kathie Dello, an Oregon State University climate scientist. “We know it’s us and we know what we have to do about it.”

Asked to provide any sources for the agency’s contention that the contribution of man-made carbon emissions in climate change is unsettled, EPA spokeswoman Ernesta Jones issued this statement:

“The talking points were developed by the Office of Public Affairs. The Agency’s work on climate adaptation continues under the leadership of Dr. (Joel) Scheraga.”

This administration, with the full support of the Republican Party, is engaged in an all-out assault on truth and on the future of life. The GOP piously proclaims itself to be pro-life, when in fact it is the world’s only major political party that denies climate science, and its idolatrous worship of unlimited economic growth is tearing apart the foundations of life.

We have a very short window of opportunity to pass on a tolerable climate to future generations. If we don’t start making serious reductions in fossil fuels within a few years, we will be responsible for immense suffering and death. It is time for all people who are truly pro-life to turn against the party of death.

I wish this meant that the easy answer is to vote for Democrats, because the Democrats will do the right thing. Frankly, too many of them still don’t understand the time crunch that we face. They are too willing to talk a good game and accept making progress a little bit at a time. That, my friends, is simply a different form of death. As the science makes overwhelmingly clear to anyone who is willing to pay attention to the scientists rather than pundits and politicians, we have a small chance of achieving a good result, and even that chance requires action stronger than either political party has been willing to face.

For me, right now the only option is to vote out every. single. Republican. Every last one, until the party stops lying and faces reality. That is a requirement for anyone who cares about life. As Pope Benedict XVI put it, “Our Earth speaks to us, and we must listen if we want to survive.” And he said the church “must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction.” Pope Francis has called defending Mother Earth the most important task of our times, and said, “Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin….I ask you, in the name of God, to defend Mother Earth.”

There are large numbers of Catholics in the US who have been trained by the bishops to vote for Republicans because the GOP is the pro-life party. That, too, is a lie, and it is time to rise up against clergy who defend power and privilege over life itself.

About the author

David Backes

I have always been drawn to where the wild things are: the natural world around me, and the wilderness within. As a writer, speaker, and university professor, I have for decades focused on this combination of nature and the human spirit. In recent years, my spiritual journey has added another lens: social, environmental and intergenerational justice. Put it all together and you’ve got The Earth Keeper, a blog of integral ecology and the prophetic imagination. The Earth Keeper may at times make you feel hopeful or inspired; it may make you feel uncomfortable or defensive or even angry. I hope it often will be challenging, and always interesting.

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