WASHINGTON – President Trump’s Twitter megaphone may be silenced, but his administration’s disinformation continues to flow.
David Legates, a climate denier appointed by the Trump administration last year to oversee climate change science, published a series of debunked reports claiming to represent research on global warming prepared for the United States government White House Science Office.
However, his reports do not appear on a government website a private one that campaigns for climate denial. They do, however, bear the logo of the President’s Executive Office and are said to be the copyrighted work of the White House Science and Technology Policy Office representing the “current state of the art” on climate change.
The response from the White House Science Bureau was quick.
“These papers were not produced under the direction of the White House Science and Technology Policy Office, nor were they produced by the O.S.T.P. Leadership, ”said Kristina Baum, a spokeswoman for the office, in a statement on Monday evening.
The papers contain long-discredited claims that climate change occurs naturally; that the sun, not man-made pollution, is responsible for recent warming; and that the impact of climate change on the planet, if any, will be minimal. William Happer, a physicist who focused on carbon dioxide with the “Demonization of the poor Jews under HitlerIs one of the featured authors. Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, an astrophysicist whose work Downplaying the risks of greenhouse gas emissions was funded by the fossil fuel industry is another.
Mr Legates’ chess game appears to be a rogue effort by some of the most extreme elements of Mr Trump’s administration to translate the federal government’s imprimatur to research aimed at undermining the established science of climate change. Many denialists have done this openly recognizedcould give more weight to such studies when submitted in legal proceedings, congressional testimony, or even at the next national climate assessment, the government’s most important contribution to climate knowledge.
According to a Trump administration official and an outside advisor, both aware of the effort, White House Human Resources officials asked Mr. Legates last year to put together a series of research for Mr. Trump in an allegedly internal project. Mr. Legates is currently the director of the United States Global Change Research Program, which oversees the national climate assessment. Kelvin K. Droegemeier, the President’s chief adviser on science and director of the White House Science Bureau, was unaware of the project, according to the two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly comment on the episode speak .
Dr. Roy Spencer, a climate denier who wrote an article for the package entitled “The Faith-Based Nature of Man-Made Global Warming,” said in one blog entry Late Monday, Mr. Legates hopes “to post these on the White House website by January 20,” presumably to be included in the outgoing administration’s official report. But he added, “Given recent events, there are no guarantees.”
Mr. Legates did not respond to a request for comment. Meanwhile, the legal implications of publishing the studies on a private website using the White House logo and copyright in a seemingly unauthorized manner late Monday were unclear. Federal law states that Anyone who “fraudulently or improperly” seals a United States department or agency can face fines or imprisonment of up to five years.
John Holdren, who ran the science office for President Barack Obama, said a spokeswoman’s rejection of the disinformation effort was not enough.
“Kelvin himself has to reinforce this farce committed in the name of O.S.T.P. and denounce it emphatically,” he said.
Peter Gleick, a climate researcher and member of the National Academy of Sciences, who noticed the posts and posted them on Twitter, called them “ridiculous” and an effort to give junk science a veneer of state respectability in front of the president. The elected Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office on January 20th. He said he expected the studies would not have lasting policy implications.
“Perhaps someone will try to call you meritorious in the next national climate assessment,” said Dr. Gleick. But he added, “To climate science itself, these pose very little danger because they are pseudoscientific, because they are ridiculous, and because nobody in the scientific community will be paying any attention to them.”
The papers appeared late last week on the premises of the Center for Environmental Research and Geosciences, an organization connected with Dr. Soon.
In an introduction, Mr. Legates describes the papers as “the current state of science on various topics of climate change”. He named the leaflets from “top scientists from leading institutions” across the country.
“The Science and Technology Policy Bureau is pleased to provide this information to help you improve your understanding of climate change by learning from these learned scientists,” he wrote. In the introduction, Mr. Legates is identified as a professor of climatology at the University of Delaware rather than by his government title.
Many of the reports, scientists found, are repackaged summaries of previously published articles. One of the articles was written by Ryan Maue, a senior official with the White House Science Bureau who has downplayed the effects of climate change and the links between global warming and extreme weather events. On the website, Dr. Maue’s article does not mention his government affiliation but describes him as a “private sector meteorologist”. Dr. Maue could not be reached for comment.
Current and former federal officials involved in the National Climate Assessment expressed dismay that the papers would be presented as representatives of the Office for Science and Technology Policy.
The documents marked the latest low point in the Trump administration’s approach to climate science.