The Trump team is considering demanding federal scientists participate in an exercise where they would be required to undercut their own scientific assessments about climate change.
The Trump administration is doing everything it can to undermine climate science — including trying to demand that legitimate scientists do the same.
For months, Scientific American reports, the White House has been floating the idea of a "red team" climate change exercise. It's a concept drawn from the military, where the "red team" takes an adversarial approach to an issue or organization to improve its effectiveness.
But it's not an approach that makes sense when dealing with climate science, because climate change is real and there aren't two legitimate sides. The administration isn't interested in genuinely strengthening the science. Instead, they're hoping to muddy the waters and undercut the National Climate Assessment that was issued last year.
No reputable scientists want to be part of the red team because the exercise "threatens to pull experts into conspiratorial exercises that might harm their careers," Scientific American notes.
Because of that, the administration is weighing whether to force reputable scientists who work at places like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA to be part of the review.
The lead author of the National Climate Assessment, Katharine Hayhoe, explained why this is a problem. Making scientists "relitigate" settled science, she said — particularly when those scientists are currently "self-censoring" themselves so they don't get in trouble with political appointees — is "an intimidation tactic that could conceivably be used to drive people out of federal positions or even ruin the careers of those who disagree."
Bob Kopp, a co-author of the National Climate Assessment, put it another way, calling the White House's efforts a "show trial."
The only people who want to serve on Trump's anti-science red team are people like William Happer, a physicist who also sits on Trump's National Security Council. Happer thinks there is a "war on CO2" and that this war is just like the "demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler."
Another likely candidate for the red team is Richard Lindzen, a retired MIT professor who thinks people who believe in global warming are like cult members.
All of this is in keeping with Trump's anti-science attitude. He thinks global warming is a hoax, and he wants to manipulate both science and the scientists to foist his wrong and dangerous views onto the rest of the world.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.