"... 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," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, quoted in "Scott Pruitt’s office deluged with angry callers after he questions the science of global warming." That's at WaPo, which counters Pruitt with this quote from Gina McCarthy, the previous EPA Administrator:
"The world of science is about empirical evidence, not beliefs.... When it comes to climate change, the evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high.”The McCarthy quote actually doesn't disagree with anything Pruitt said. It just models a different attitude toward the science.
WaPo chooses to forefront the anger against Pruitt. What's the journalistic theory there? I'm headed back out on the road, so I'll just give this my "emotional politics" tag and throw the discussion over to you.
IN THE COMMENTS: Many noticed what I noticed and didn't have time to say: The 2 sentences spoken by McCarthy look ridiculous side by side. They're not necessarily inconsistent. But sentence #2 cannot be taken to be within the "world of science" that's "about empirical evidence, not beliefs." However "robust and overwhelmingly clear" the evidence is, the acceptability of the cost of inaction is a matter for political debate.
Paul Zrimsek made the point first, asking snarkily:
In what units do scientists measure unacceptability?Lewis Wetzel said:
"... evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high.”Ignorance is Bliss said...
These are opinions. Being derived from "empirical evidence" does not make them statements of fact. No one can tell you with certainty what inaction will cost or what action will cost.
The costs of climate change (and the costs of avoiding climate change) are questions science can attempt to answer.Drago quotes Paul Zrimsek's question and says:
Whether those costs are acceptable is not.
There are multiple scales. For instance, it appears that Pruitt's comments come in at -57P (Pelosi units) for acceptability which is equivalent to -249WMOMJ (We Miss Obama: MSM "Journolists" Units).Many more comments. Those are just a few of the early ones.
These scales are subject to historical revisionism, altering of baselines, modifications based on public perceptions and political needs of the day, expunging of "inconvenient truths", etc.
By the way, I thought it was funny that WaPo wanted both to stress the solidity and seriousness of science while making the main news about how terribly angry some people are. WaPo seems to want public emotion to drive policy but still seems to expect us to soberly submit to the pronouncements of scientists because they are scientists (even when they, like McCarthy, show us outright that they blend policy opinion into their science).