Is it possible that we’re still debating the existence of climate change? Two months ago, President Trump’s Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared 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.”
Secretary Scott Pruitt continued:
“We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”
But review and analysis require data. And last week, the EPA removed significant amounts of public data and scientific information from its own web site.
Why would Secretary Pruitt remove data from public view if he believes that we need to “continue the review and the analysis” of the information? According to an EPA spokesperson, the removal was needed to “eliminate confusion by removing outdated language.” And yet the spokesperson didn’t explain why the language of the data was “outdated.”
So why should we feel concern? Given that climate changes over time, scientists must analyze data that has been collected over many years in order to evaluate the effects of various environmental factors. Thus, it is difficult to understand how a set of data can itself become “outdated.”
To be sure, this is not to say that Secretary Pruitt is wrong. In fact, it is never wrong to question established scientific findings, or to call for more review and analysis.
But such activities are simply impossible to perform when information that resides in the public realm is removed from public access. So when our government “of the people, by the people, for the people” compiles data and publishes it on a public web site, perhaps we’d be better served if it simply leaves it there.