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Red team-blue team exercise will expose the junk science that filled Obama’s EPA

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Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman has leveled a number of error-riddled accusations against the current administrator, Scott Pruitt. Perhaps she is troubled by the fact that Pruitt’s term in office will likely be marked by a landmark contribution to the scientific debate while her legacy was middling.

Whitman’s main concern is that Pruitt will establish a “red team-blue team” exercise to examine whether the EPA has falsely claimed scientific certainty on unresolved questions in the debate over anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Such questions include whether human-produced carbon dioxide is the major driver of global warming and climate change, and if it is possible to accurately forecast future climate conditions and even weather events.

Whitman contends there is “broad consensus” and “no debate” on these matters, and that “the red-team idea is a waste of the government’s time, energy and resources.”

{mosads}The first question to ask Whitman is, if the science is settled, the evidence overwhelming, and the answer is a slam-dunk, what is she afraid of? If she is right, the debate will last all of five minutes. She would seem to have nothing to lose.


We believe Whitman’s real fear is that an objective, transparent, and rigorous red team-blue team exercise would reveal that the science behind current EPA climate policies was manipulated, biased toward alarmism, and is therefore not a reliable basis for public policy.

Claims about global warming coming from EPA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and international groups such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are loaded with appeals to secret, hidden, or “missing” files and to pre-conceived conclusions, subject to overt political interference, and protected by a deep corruption of the peer review process. A red team-blue team exercise would expose all this dirty laundry.

How could an open and public debate result, as Whitman contends, in the public knowing “less about the science of climate change than before”? This is insulting to millions of people who are better trained to understand the science debate than she is.

The red team-blue team methodology was pioneered by the national security community to test assumptions and analyses, identify risks, and reduce — or at least understand — uncertainties. The process is considered a best practice in complex high-consequence situations such as intelligence assessments, spacecraft design, and major industrial operations. Would not Whitman agree that global warming is a complex high-consequence situation?

A red team-blue team exercise has staunch supporters outside the Trump administration. Earlier this year, Dr. Steven Koonin called for a more formal exercise to be overseen by an interagency group similar to the Obama-era and now disbanded Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon. Others who have joined the call include Dr. William Happer at Princeton University, Dr. Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Dr. Freeman Dyson at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

An international exercise has been underway since 2003, when Dr. S. Fred Singer, a distinguished atmospheric physicist, launched a Team B to critique an upcoming report from the United Nations’ IPCCC. That effort is ongoing and is called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.

None of these distinguished scientists fits Whitman’s demeaning reference to the “tiny minority of contrarians who publish very little and are funded by fossil fuel interests.” Dr. Koonin, just to focus on one, served as Undersecretary of Energy for Science under President Obama, served a decade as provost at Caltech, and is founder and currently the Director of New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress.

Whitman argues that a red team-blue team exercise would be a waste of government resources and “a slap in the face to fiscal responsibility and responsible governance.” Frankly, it would be a well-deserved slap in the face of past EPA administrators, including her, and other federal agency leaders who shamefully allowed climate science to become politicized and unreliable.

It is fiscally irresponsible and irresponsible governance to spend trillions of dollars on uneconomical technologies, forcing consumers to buy products they do not want, and destroying entire industries on the basis of untested hypotheses and inaccurate forecasts.

A red team-blue team investigation of the truth about global warming is absolutely imperative. We know why Whitman opposes it. For the rest of us, this exercise is long over-due. 

Joseph L. Bast is CEO of The Heartland Institute, a conservative nonprofit group based in Illinois, and Roger H. Bezdek, Ph.D., is president of Management Information Services, Inc, an economic research and consulting firm.

Tags Christine Todd Whitman Climate change Climatology Environmental policy in the United States EPA Natural environment Scott Pruitt Scott Pruitt United States Environmental Protection Agency William Happer
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