Last week, someone from Donald Trump‘s transition team sent out a 74-question survey to the Department of Energy. It included a request for a list of the names of employees and contractors who had attended climate change conferences, as well as all materials and emails related to them.
Given Trump’s history of climate change denial, and the fact that his pick to lead the EPA is climate change denier Scott Pruitt, this was viewed by some as an attempt to start a witch hunt for DOE employees who accept climate change, possibly for the purpose of firing them.
After this questionnaire was released to the New York Times by anonymous DOE employees, the Trump team disavowed it, claiming it was unauthorized and that the person who sent it out has since been “counseled.”
Speaking to this controversy on CNN’s New Day was Wall Street investor and Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci, who had some rather interesting things to say on the subject.
“I know that the current president believes that human beings are affecting the climate,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Wednesday on “New Day.” “There are scientists that believe that that’s not happening.”
“There was overwhelming science that the earth was flat and there was an overwhelming science that we were the center of the world,” Scaramucci added. “We get a lot of things wrong in the scientific community.”
Anthony, Anthony, Anthony — there was never any “overwhelming science that the earth was flat.” It was just what people believed until science proved them wrong. People also believed that the Earth rested upon a giant tree called Yggdrasil. That doesn’t mean they had any “science” to back this up. And while, yes, the geocentric model of the solar system was the standard until Copernicus and Galileo proved it wrong, scientists were willing to change their views accordingly and accept the new discoveries. The Roman Catholic Church, however, was not. At least not for a good long time. They were the ones rejecting the new science, not the scientists.
In this analogy, Anthony, you’re not the scientists. You’re the Church, and you’re wrong.
But let’s point out here that, at least this time around, even the Church is on the right side of science. The Pope accepts that humans are causing climate change and says not taking care of the environment is a sin. So, like, 97% of all scientists and the Roman Catholic Church — of which you are a member — agree that climate change is a real problem… but you’re still holding out?
Trump’s current position on climate change is that “nobody really knows” — a slight improvement on his previous claim that the whole thing is some kind of hoax. That’s still not true — an overwhelming number of scientists do know what causes it. But because there are a few people out there who question it, Trump feels justified in saying “nobody really knows.” (It’s the same way he approaches the hacking scandal. The intelligence community says “Russia did it,” but a few conservatives argue otherwise. Trump errs on the side of negligence.)
For what it’s worth, a study conducted in 2006 showed that 20% of Americans still believe in a geocentric model of the solar system, and there are plenty of amateur scientists on the internet claiming that the Earth is flat. The mere act of being able to find someone who believes a lie is not proof in and of itself that the truth is questionable.
Similarly, the fact that scientists have been “wrong before” on things doesn’t mean that it’s a terrific idea to go about life assuming they’re always going to be wrong. Refusing to believe scientists about climate change because you’d prefer to pollute the Earth or do away with environmental regulations on businesses is about as smart as me refusing to believe scientists about gravity because I’d really like to jump off a cliff and fly instead of falling to my death.