In an interview with Reuters published Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency chief elaborated on his plan to form a group to question the science of global warming. Using a so-called “red team, blue team” method, Pruitt wants scientists to conduct what he called “a robust discussion for all the world to see”—and, he told Reuters, he’d like to see it happen on television.
Asked if he thought the debate should be televised, Pruitt said: “I think so. I think so. I mean, I don’t know yet, but you want this to be open to the world. You want this to be on full display. I think the American people would be very interested in consuming that. I think they deserve it.”
The “debate” Pruitt seeks over whether humans are the main cause of climate change is just an excuse to create a spectacle and stall action. But Pruitt also seems unaware that Americans have been subjected to unnecessary TV debates over the merits of climate change for years. Indeed, most cable news networks’ favorite approach when covering global warming has been to pit one person with mainstream views on climate science—more often than not, Bill Nye—against a person who denies mainstream climate science. A 2014 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that 30 percent of CNN’s climate coverage was misleading, mostly stemming “from debates between guests who accepted established climate science and other guests who disputed it.”
One-on-one debates about human impact on climate change misrepresent the scientific consensus. A statistically representative debate on climate science would feature 97 mainstream scientists debating three contrarians. Pruitt says that Americans deserve this debate, but what Americans actually deserve are responsible cable news networks that don’t force this manufactured debate on them.