Editor: After reading Ms. Ray’s passionate plea to bring science back to the EPA, I felt enticed to do a little scientific digging of my own. I would like to address a few of her points, and provide some scientific backing.
I’d like to start with the fact that the majority of scientists in the field do, in fact, believe in a form of human-induced climate change, or at least think that it is extremely likely. It is a common misconception that there is still large scientific debate over whether climate change is human induced, as in reality 97 percent of climate scientists agree on the main issue. This page here briefly summarizes the scientific consensus on the matter, and provides the sources of many studies for more detail: climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/
Another common misconception is that the terms “global warming” and “climate change” are interchangeable. NASA defines these two terms here: climate.nasa.gov/resources/global-warming/ As you can see, climate change accounts for more than just global warming, importantly noting extreme weather events. More realistically, we are experiencing a “global weirding,” where rather than simply becoming hotter our weather experiences both extremes. Last January, we got three feet of snow, and this February we enjoyed 70-degree weather for multiple days. Weird.
Ms. Ray does bring up a good point about manipulating data. Something that is disconcerting is that some corporations present their own scientific studies on subjects relevant to their industry, sometimes even controlling all information and data on that subject. By doing so, the organization looks good in demonstrating their commitment to the environment, but can influence the studies in discreet ways. Since the company hires scientists, and the scientists need income, they are more inclined to organize studies and search for explanations that find results that benefit the industry, for if that scientist doesn’t do so, another scientist who will find scientific reasoning to justify a desired action will be hired instead. One example is that in the 1990s the Vinyl Institute controlled and supplied all information about dioxin emissions, which are toxic chemicals that are largely produced by plastics industries. It’s scary to wonder if information was hidden or avoided because of industry benefits. Yes, scientific studies can become politicized, but it’s important to note that this happens on both sides of the spectrum.
The EPA does have science to prove its mission, it just may not be your science.
Hailey Disch, Leesburg