Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

By Chelsea Harvey and Chris Mooney
4 May 2017

(The Washington Post) – As the Environmental Protection Agency proceeds with a large-scale update of its website, its climate change site has been taken down, pending review. But several climate scientists contacted by The Post argue that this is unnecessary.

“If any errors were present, they could have been fixed with minor editing,” said atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in an emailed comment, who also noted that he’s never heard of any climate scientist objecting to any information on the website. “There was no cause for a wholesale review of the site’s materials.”

The climate change site, which has existed since the 1990s, contained a wealth of information on the scientific causes of global warming, its consequences and ways for communities to mitigate or adapt. An archived version of the site clearly states that “humans are largely responsible for recent climate change” and also includes data on the sources of greenhouse gas emissions, reports on the observable effects of climate change, fact sheets about its threat to human health and numerous other resources.

As of April 27, however, the site redirects to a page claiming that the agency is “currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, for his part, has publicly stated that he does not agree that human activity is a “primary contributor” to current climate change. […]

However, some scientists are challenging the idea that the climate change site is in need of reviewing or updating at all — or at least, that it warranted being taken down during the review process.

“[E]very administration has the right and indeed responsibility to review, update, and improve the policies and websites of agencies under their purview, so there is nothing inherently wrong with the EPA website being revised,” said Matthew Huber, a climate scientist at Purdue University, by email. “It does strike me as unusual and irresponsible to take the entire climate change website down at once and not conduct a rolling review and update. This is akin to removing all emergency exit signs from a movie theater while a movie is showing because the upper management has decided they might need to improve their disaster plans.”  

According to Huber, the previous climate site contained valuable information related to the safety of human communities, such as a report aimed at helping citizens protect their health against extreme heat in the future.

“So the administration has removed a well executed, scientifically valid guide to protecting health — information needed right now not just in the distant future,” he said. “This seems to be a direct abrogation of the EPA’s mission ‘to protect human health and the environment.’” [more]

The EPA climate website taken down for review was accurate, scientists say



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