President Trump and the administration are discussing whether to undertake an initiative that would question the science of climate change through a debate process, according to a new report.
The Washington Post said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is the driver behind the idea, which has "sparked a debate among top Trump administration officials over whether to pursue such a strategy."
The report was based on numerous anonymous officials within the administration, one of whom was also quoted as saying "there are no formal plans within the administration to do anything about it at this time."
The idea's genesis is an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal from April, written by Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist and the director for the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University.
Koonin's idea is to create a debate structure called "Red Team/Blue Team," which would create "an open adversarial process would shine much-needed light on the scientific debates."
"Here's how it might work: The focus would be a published scientific report meant to inform policy such as the U.N.'s Summary for Policymakers or the U.S. Government's National Climate Assessment," Koonin writes in the full op-ed. "A Red Team of scientists would write a critique of that document and a Blue Team would rebut that critique. Further exchanges of documents would ensue to the point of diminishing returns.
"A commission would coordinate and moderate the process and then hold hearings to highlight points of agreement and disagreement, as well as steps that might resolve the latter. The process would unfold in full public view: the initial report, the exchanged documents and the hearings."
Pruitt supported the idea in a recent interview with Brietbart, a pro-Trump news website.
"The American people need to have that type of honest, open discussion, and it's something that we hope to help provide as part of our leadership," Pruitt said.
The idea is being criticized by those who are concerned that views skeptical of climate change will be elevated.
Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Post such a debate structure would, "promote the notion of a lack of consensus about the core findings, which in fact is a false notion."
Climate change was a key point of debate when Pruitt faced the Senate for his confirmation to lead the agency back in January. At the time, Pruitt said he disagreed with Trump's notion that climate change was a hoax, but he also refused to detail to what extent he believed human industrial activity was the main culprit.
The entire concept of Red Team/Blue Team is not completely original. The military and businesses often use debate and competition structures like this to challenge assumptions and explore new operational ideas.