So Who Asked You?

Besides our Chaos President, does anyone think Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA, is qualified to judge the scientific data, and to reject the opinions of the vast majority of climatologists?  Last week he said that carbon emissions are not a primary cause of global warming, despite much evidence to the contrary.  How did he reach that conclusion?  He is an administrator, not a scientist.  He is a lawyer who was Attorney General of Oklahoma, and as such, spent years defending the interests of oil companies and businesses with the potential to increase carbon pollution.  Now he plans to roll back limits on vehicle tailpipe emissions, which will certainly please the auto industry while worsening the air that we breathe.  The extent to which CO2 and other heat-trapping products of fossil fuel consumption (e.g. by power companies, car/truck manufacturers, and other human activities) contribute to climate change is determined by scientific research, not by the financial interests of those companies.  Or so one would think.

Imagine if a lawyer from a tobacco-producing southern state who has spent his career promoting the tobacco industry suddenly became the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  This administrator, who has no knowledge of epidemiology and public health, then declares that the mountain of evidence linking cigarette smoke to cancer is insufficient, unconvincing, and invalid.  Henceforth warning labels would be removed, age limits on cigarette purchases rolled back, smoking in restaurants and public spaces allowed.  Imagine the howls of protest and accusations of corruption that would ensue!

Career researchers and consultants for the EPA must feel a bit like Commander Peter Annenkov, who, in this excerpt, has just been issued orders by a civilian on board his ship, in my sci-fi novel Fourth World:

There were a dozen men in plain black uniforms, some standing at attention while others faced control panels.  An irate-looking blond man with a sharp face and small mustache, dressed in a gray uniform with red stars on his shoulders, sat in a dominant position raised two steps above the surrounding modules.  This was certainly a warship, and Benn was looking at it through another person’s eyes.

“Carefully, now, Comrade Peter.  Use a slow approach,” Benn heard himself saying in a tone usually reserved for small children.  The ship’s commander, the blond man named Peter (last name Annenkov, gleaned from the mind Benn was occupying) glared at Benn- or rather at the speaker- making no effort to disguise his simmering anger.  He was master of one of the fastest and deadliest ships serving the PWE, and here was a mere civilian bureaucrat, pulling back on the reins of his charger, urging a slow approach?  This corrupt health official, this creature of the pharmaceutical industry!  Giving orders in front of Peter’s crew.  Intruder!  Pirate!  With each of these thoughts, Peter’s red aura issued a small eruption, like a solar flare.




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