A new morn­ing for the en­vi­ron­ment

Trump’s elec­tion bodes well for a more sci­ence-based EPA

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By An­thony J. Sadar and Su­san T. Cam­marata

As the mem­o­rable Ron­ald Rea­gan po­lit­i­cal ad an­nounced, “It’s morn­ing again in Amer­ica.” Hope­fully, fol­low­ing the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump, a bright new day will dawn for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in the United States.

One fed­eral agency that needs im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion af­ter the swear­ing in of Pres­i­dent Trump is the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA). Founded in 1970 un­der Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon, this pow­er­ful agency had an ad­mirable goal to clean up the mess over­tak­ing the na­tion’s air, wa­ter and land at that time. Since 1970, tremen­dous progress has been made on all ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal fronts. In par­tic­u­lar our air qual­ity has im­proved 70 per­cent from re­duc­tion of ma­jor con­tam­i­nants.

To­day’s EPA is a far cry from the agency of the ’70s. As a can­di­date, Mr. Trump as­serted the day be­fore the his­toric elec­tion gov­ern­ment should serve the na­tion, not the spe­cial in­ter­ests. The EPA ap­pears to be serv­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists’ spe­cial in­ter­est. And ar­ro­gant ac­tivism ap­par­ently keeps rolling along at the high­est lev­els of the EPA.

The head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, seems to be on shaky ground when it comes to at­mo­spheric sci­ence. Like many oth­ers, she must have faith in cli­ma­tol­o­gists. Lucky for her, the largely aca­demic and gov­ern­ment-sup­ported cli­mate sci­en­tists bol­ster pre­sup­po­si­tions about the cli­mate. These pre­sump­tions are based on an ide­ol­ogy, which is ap­par­ently founded on an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist uni­ver­sal­ism. Such re­li­gion is rooted in years of un­re­lent­ing in­doc­tri­na­tion in the cat­e­chism that hu­mans are de­stroy­ing the planet by liv­ing com­fort­ably off fos­sil fu­els.

From what ap­pears to be a su­per­fi­cial, faith­based knowl­edge of the cli­mate change is­sue, the EPA’s Ms. McCarthy has re­cently said, “I’m not talk­ing to cli­mate de­niers — that’s it.” Spo­ken like a true be­liever.

It is of­fen­sive to many of us sec­u­lar, knowl­edge­able, prac­tic­ing at­mo­spheric sci­en­tists that the top EPA of­fi­cial spouts den­i­gra­tion and de­mands obei­sance to eco­log­i­cal re­li­gion. With a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, per­haps we de­plorable un­be­liev­ers will have some voice to pro­vide per­spec­tive on the com­plex is­sue of cli­mate change, its mag­ni­tude and rea­son­able mit­i­ga­tion.

Some cli­mate facts are well es­tab­lished, such as the ob­ser­va­tion that man’s ac­tiv­ity on the lo­cal and medium scales has af­fected cli­mate. Cities that re­placed veg­e­ta­tive ar­eas with de­vel­op­ments show mea­sur­able in­creases in tem­per­a­ture and other long-term changes to at­mo­spheric dy­nam­ics when com­pared with the sur­round­ing coun­try­side. The lat­est is­sue of Physics To­day fo­cuses on some cli­mate changes re­lated to land-sur­face and land-man­age­ment changes.

Weather pat­terns can change from hu­mans’ un­to­ward in­puts to not only land­scape changes but, to a mi­nor ex­tent, in­creased load­ing of par­tic­u­late mat­ter and volatile or­ganic com­pounds into the at­mos­phere. How­ever, since dra­co­nian mea­sures to re­duce “green­house gases” will lead to, at best, a small frac­tion of a de­gree de­crease in global tem­per­a­tures, it makes more sense to fo­cus time and tal­ent at the EPA on fur­ther re­duc­ing toxic pol­lu­tants that pose a real threat to pub­lic health. Health­ful com­mu­ni­ties will re­sult from the feds work­ing dili­gently with job-grow­ing in­dus­tries to rea­son­ably limit harm­ful emis­sions. Com­mand-and-con­trol strate­gies from the EPA do not en­rich pop­u­la­tions if the strate­gies drive out busi­ness and pad­lock fac­to­ries.

Peo­ple do have some sub­stan­tial, lim­ited im­pact on cli­mate. But, how se­ri­ous and to what ex­tent are ques­tions far from be­ing an­swered in any “set­tled sci­ence” way.

Ar­ro­gant gov­ern­ment elites, politi­cians and aca­demic sci­en­tists must shut down qual­ity chal­lenges to their faith in them­selves, and so the EPA must be more broad-minded, open­ing a big tent to le­git­i­mate, in­formed ques­tions re­gard­ing the en­trenched idea that the cli­mate is con­trolled by pal­try peo­ple pol­lu­tion. An­thony J. Sadar is a cer­ti­fied con­sult­ing me­te­o­rol­o­gist and au­thor of “In Global Warm­ing We Trust: Too Big to Fail” (Stair­way Press, 2016). Su­san T. Cam­marata is a prac­tic­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal and fam­ily lawyer.


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