In the United States, people are allowed to believe anything they want to believe. That is, after all, part of the point of living in “the land of the free.” A right-wing conservative is free to reject out of hand any scientific theories that offend his preferred religion, cling tightly to a religious world view based on theocratic right-wing orthodoxy, and refuse to believe in accepted scientific conclusions such as evolution based on natural selection. It becomes a problem, as New York Magazine contends, when such a person is in charge of a federal agency tasked with evaluating — and protecting against — environmental threats.
Scott Pruitt seems to be precisely that sort of right-wing conservative. Pruitt denies evolution and argues that climate change is in no way caused by human pollution. The EPA director flat-out refuses to accept any science that impinges on his religious world view and doesn’t seem to mind when companies spew endless amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. The man who now heads the EPA is a danger to us all, according to New York Magazine.
EPA head denies evolution, climate change
On March 2, Politico revealed the contents of a six-hour-long tape in which Trump appointee Scott Pruitt offered his opinion on a number of social and political issues, including his skepticism about science. Recorded at Tulsa radio station KFAQ-AM in 2005, the newly revealed tapes were provided to Politico by an anonymous researcher who was looking into past remarks by the current head of the Environmental Protection Agency. In the tapes, which were originally recorded for a series of broadcast talk radio shows, Pruitt advocates constitutional amendments to prohibit same-sex marriage and abortion as well as proposing constitutional protection of the Ten Commandments and the Pledge of Allegiance.
After analyzing the tapes, Politico asked an EPA spokesman if EPA head Pruitt’s skepticism of scientific conclusion in any way conflicts with his “mandate to follow science” as administrator of the environmental agency. The EPA rep’s non-answer was a clear indication that Scott Pruitt’s religious dogma outweighs his understanding of science, explains New York Magazine.
“If you’re insinuating that a Christian should not serve in capacity as EPA administrator, that is offensive and a question that does not warrant any further attention.”
Actually, it does warrant further attention
The Union of Concerned Scientists is one group that has consistently criticized Pruitt’s stance on environmental policies. UCS Director Andrew Rosenberg noted that the former Oklahoma attorney general’s religion is not relevant to his job “because the job is not to be the nation’s pastor” but still worries that the Republican at the helm of the EPA opts to “sideline science” while allowing religion and politics to wholly impact his decisions about how — or if –to protect the environment.
“If I had to say if there was a philosophy behind his [EPA head Scott Pruitt] decisions, it’s ‘Industry is always right and we should just get out of the way.'”
During the course of the six-hour interview, Pruitt said that he believes the right to own guns is given by (his) God. Pruitt also made it clear that he flatly denies the theory of evolution by natural selection, despite the fact that it is widely accepted science. In 2003, the then-senator from Oklahoma unsuccessfully attempted to force inclusion of a disclaimer that evolution “is only a theory” into schoolbooks.
“There aren’t sufficient scientific facts to establish the theory of evolution, and it deals with the origins of man, which is more from a philosophical standpoint than a scientific standpoint.”
Keeping a watchful eye on the EPA during the Trump administration
The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1969. The Vietnam War was raging and the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was ablaze. Scientists, students, and MIT faculty declared U.S. military misuse of science while asserting that science should be focused on solving environmental issues instead of war technology. Today, the USC stands with science to resist the Trump administration’s efforts to sideline science from decisions that affect us all.